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Ascent of Maroon Peak on 2018-09-27

Climber: William Musser

Others in Party:Nate: guide for Aspen Alpine Guides
Date:Thursday, September 27, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Maroon Peak
    Location:USA-Colorado
    Elevation:14156 ft / 4314 m

Ascent Trip Report

Was at a conference at Snow Mass and wanted one of the big 14ers in the area. But I needed to get up and down an in time to get back and catch the classes. Unsure of the new terrain and reading that if you do not select the correct routes through the sedimentary bands you can end up in class 4 with broken unstable rock, I hired a guide to pick me up, get me to the TH, make sure in the dark we followed the most efficient routes and make sure I stayed on class 3 or easier rock all day. My guide was Nate an interesting young man who studied electrical engineering and had his MBA but gave that all up to be a guide. He was also an elite Colorado rescue volunteer and told me of the 9 deaths that occurred on Colorado 14ers last year, he was part of 7 of the extractions. He had useful information on how each had died...... and most were on Capital. Some were bad luck but many could have been avoided. Some good info from a professional that spends a lot of time getting people down.

My pace up 14ers with say 12 miles RT and 4200 feet of climb has been like 3 hours up and 2 down so with this more difficult 12 miles and 5000 feet, I suspected I could do it in 4 up and 3 down. He said no way. 7 hours? Figure 8 to 10. It took a little over 9 and I was not stopping for any rest other than to shed layers, put on a climbing helmet or get a drink all day. I was flying on the class 1. So why so slow? The terrain is very tough. There is like a 2,800 foot climb up a scree and dirt steep slope that neutralizes any fast pace. It is a steep class 2 with few footholds. it is grueling and likely why this trip is rated "hard" by 14er.com.

Nate did a marvelous job of getting us to the upper ridge about when sun came up. We started early (he picked me up at 3:30 AM) and we started at the TH a bit after 4AM. The class 3 on this hike is not that often. Surprisingly with good route finding which he did for me....we were mostly on class 2 and 2+ all day but the few times we were on class 3 it was easy 3 or very typical class with reasonable exposure. I only recall one place where the narrow foot holds and fall consequences on the ledge would be about a class 3+ but nothing approached class 4 anywhere where we climbed. We passed a curious mountain goat and hit the summit in exactly 5 hours.

I was disappointed at our time up. But it was the compacted dirt and tiny scree gullies that got me. When we got on solid rock it was fast climbing. I highly recommend you wear a rock climbing helmet with all the loose rock up there. Also we each carried on walking pole each and I really wish I had brought with me two poles. My speed on the loose dirt-scree areas would have been much faster if I had two poles to help with footing coming down the long arduous slopes.

We were down and back in time for me to catch my sessions but i was a long day. One side note....this is not a hike with little additional gain. There are a lot of roller-coaster hills along the lakes and once you are on the bands there is a lot of places where you downclimb one band to get to a new gully up-climb the gully to get on a new band and then down climb on the band some. I estimated 430 feet of additional gain on our route each way, an estimate I am confident is correct to within 5 to 10%. Thus, the day has more total vertical gain than the net gain between your starting elevation and the summit.


Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5456 ft / 1662 m
    Total Elevation Loss:860 ft / 262 m
    Round-Trip Distance:12 mi / 19.3 km
    Grade/Class:1,2,3,3+
    Quality:9 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles, Guide
    Weather:31F at TH at 4:00 AM
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:5026 ft / 1531 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 4596 ft / 1401 m; Extra: 430 ft / 131m
    Loss on way in:430 ft / 131 m
    Distance:6 mi / 9.7 km
    Route:standard trail up Maroon Lake to Crater lake to So
    Start Trailhead:Parking Lot near Maroon Lake  9560 ft / 2913 m
    Time:5 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:430 ft / 131 m
    Gain on way out:430 ft / 131 m
    Distance:6 mi / 9.7 km



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