Peak(s):  Belleview Mountain A  -  13,233 feet
Maroon Peak  -  14,163 feet
North Maroon Peak  -  14,022 feet
Pyramid Peak  -  14,029 feet
"Thunder Pyramid"  -  13,932 feet
Unnamed 13722  -  13,722 feet
Unnamed 13631  -  13,631 feet
Unnamed 13180 B  -  13,180 feet
Unnamed 13140  -  13,140 feet
Date Posted:  08/28/2015
Date Climbed:   08/23/2015
Author:  mojah
 Red, Rugged, and Rotten or: The Dumbest Thing I've Ever Done   

Red, Rugged, and Rotten or: The Dumbest Thing I've Ever Done

Bells Ridge to Pyramid Ridge from West Maroon Pass
Elevation Gain: ~14,000'
Mileage: ~28 miles
Round Trip Time: ~28 hours

Pyramid Summit Pano - Photo Cred to Shawn from Aspen

For those of you that know me, I've done some pretty dumb things. I first got the idea for this when I saw the Magamaroonal and Megamydal Traverse TRs here. The authors had proposed a Megamoronal Traverse that linked them both. At the time, I wasn't sure I was capable of doing it, but by that point, I had completed all the Great Traverses and considered it a distant possibility.

Fast forward to July 26, 2015 and I've just finished the 14ers, a couple weeks over a year since the first. Late that winter, I had set a goal to complete the list of 58 within a year of the first, but shortly after, the big snowy spring hit and I knew I would be hard-pressed to meet that goal. A mixed blessing though. While I didn't make the one year goal, I got some ski descents I otherwise wouldn't have. I knew that this would just be the beginning, but I wasn't entirely sure what would be next. Centennials and more ski descents surely, but I was in no rush to abide by a rigid list again. So I came back to the idea of big linkups. Living in the heart of the Elks, it was obvious to me what I'd do next.

While this isn't the complete Megamoronal Traverse originally conceived of, it's close. It truncates the hardest part of the Bells Ridge - North Maroon to Buckskin Pass, which includes the Sleeping Sexton and UN 13039. I figured this would be reasonable if I were to keep it within my limits. Besides, I really only wanted the centennial Thunder Pyramid. Everything else was "collateral damage" as they'd say

So I waited for a weather window. I finally got it this weekend, amidst the haze blowing in from the wildfires out west. I started from the Schofield Park TH at midnight. This TH is practically home for me. A short drive from Crested Butte after the road turns to dirt, I had already used it to approach the Bells, Pyramid and Snowmass last year. A little more than two hours later, I stood on Belleview. I had already summitted it twice before, once in the dark. Still navigating by headlamp, I made my way down. Without photos to jog my memory, I don't recall too many details from this section. Darkness and 28 hours on the "trail" will do that I guess. The only thing I can clearly recall is having this stupid song from an equally stupid internet video featuring stuck in my head. "Put a banana in your ear! Put a ripe banana right into your favorite ear!". With the lack of sensory input, I think my brain decided to dig this viral gem from the depths of my memory. Even now, as I write this report, I have the YouTube video playing in the background.

What I do remember is how horrendously chossy this section was. Try as I might, it was nigh impossible to keep from continuously sending down full on rockslides as I descended. Not just one or two boulders tumbling down. Full on rockslides. With each step, I could hear the veritable flood of stone hurtling down into the void. The chossiness does relent at some point, sometime after the ridge flattens out and eventually starts ascending Maroon proper. Still, it didn't keep me from eating shit somewhere along that section of ridge. I stepped onto a block which immediately gave out from under me, taking me with it. I stopped quickly, but from what I could hear down that gully, that might have been the end of me. Luckily, all I have to show from it are a few scrapes and bruises. Great start!

Soon after, I found myself where the standard route joins the ridge. I looked down to a mass of headlamps in the valley. Was hoping to meet up with another group (Michael J, Noel, Zach, Chuck, Danielle and some others I hadn't met) for the traverse, but the headlamps in the lead were hours away at best. So I resigned myself to hiking solo for the rest of the day. Glad to find some sort of trail with twilight now illuminating the way, I picked up my pace and caught the first rays of light peeking over Pyramid at about 13,700'. I reached the summit at about 6:30, and watched the sun creep up over the hazy horizon.







The last time I was here, it was the first time I was over 14,000'. I was in decent shape and more than prepared in almost every aspect, but I had grossly underestimated the nutritional requirements to get here and back. I would continue on the traverse with success, but by the time I started the descent from North Maroon, I was out of food and almost out of water. To make matters worse, I got off route and found myself on North Maroon's rotten north face. And as if the fates had conspired to keep me down, I still had to hike over West Maroon Pass to get back to Crested Butte. It was nothing I hadn't done to myself, but needless to say, it was a rough introduction to climbing 14ers.

I started on the traverse after basking in the rising sun for a bit, reaching North Maroon in just under an hour.


The last of the alpenglow


A bit more time on the summit of North Maroon, and I start the descent. This time around, I was much more prepared. I had studied the route down and by now, I had dialed down my caloric intake. I ran into the first people at the 4th class chimney just below the summit. They were roping up for the section, so I headed left and found a different way down. Near the top of the second gully, I ran into Sarah and the CFI crew. What a strange coincidence. Who knew you'd bump into 14ers members on a 14er?

People on the summit of Maroon


Back down in the valley, I refilled with water at Crater Lake. Not many people down here surprisingly. After half an hour munching on energy bars and contemplating whether or not to continue, I decided the weather was still good to go. Despite wanting to make good time, I still had to stop and take pictures of the locals. I'm on the summit of Pyramid by 1:20.




On the summit, I met a couple of Aspen locals (of the human variety). I was happy to have a bit of company, so I lingered as long as they would. I'm always surprised how friendly people seem to be above 14,000'. They wished me well and after they started down, I made my way over to the edge of the first cliff.

From here, I'll let the pictures tell the story, as everything just seems to blend together. Red, rugged and rotten just about sums it up. Lots of cliffs, and occasionally one I wasn't willing to downclimb, taking the Nope Train to Fuckthatville and backtracking. I had hoped to be well past the major difficulties before dark. Turned out everything was a lot more difficult than expected. IF I ever attempted this route again in the distant future, I'd do the circuit in the counterclockwise direction, climbing the ridge first thing. I'm confident that the route can be done in under 24 hours that way.

Pyramid Ridge from the summit

Below the summit cliffs

Looking towards Thunder

Oh, so if I fall here, it's over? Quick, lemme get a photo.

Pyramid from the highpoint on the ridge with Thunder

Looking back at Pyramid from Thunder

From just below Thunder

Looking back to Thunder

Looking forward from "Lightning" (13722)

Looking forward from the high point betweek "Lightning" and 13631

Looking back at Pyramid Ridge from below 13631

After 13631, the last major difficulty was 13180, and what I think (at least it felt like it at the time) was the hardest climbing on the ridge. I had hoped to be past this before dark, but light was fading quickly. I soon found myself climbing by headlamp, just taking the most direct way to the summit; an easier path be damned. Soon after, I stood atop 13180. It was 9:00 and by now, the moon was up. I was pretty much home free. But you're not home until you're home. I still had 3 miles of ridge and an additional 4 miles to the TH. This is where I crashed, and hard. The remainder of the ridge is Class 2 at best, but I found it hard to maintain a steady pace. It took me 5.5 hours to reach the pass from 13180. Worse, that stupid banana song became my march. "Put a banana in your ear! You will never be happy if you live your life in fear!" Of all the god-awful songs, it had to be that one. The strange things your mind fixates on when you're delirious.

And just like that, I was home. I reach the TH at 4 AM and promptly passed out in my car. My alarm would rudely wake me in a couple hours for work, for which I'd call in sick. "Yeah Dan, sorry but I'm just absolutely wrecked. I'd just be completely useless. Alright thanks, see you tomorrow."

GPX file exceeds the 5 MB limit

'Cause sometimes you just feel tired,
Feel weak, and when you feel weak, you feel like you wanna just give up.
But you gotta search within you, you gotta find that inner strength
And just pull that shit out of you and get that motivation to not give up
And not be a quitter, no matter how bad you wanna just fall flat on your face and collapse.
-Marshall Mathers

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27

Comments or Questions
Oso Blanco
Utterly Phenomenal!
08/28/2015 21:48
Completely Epic! Congrats Sir. Next time we’ll catch up to you quicker

08/28/2015 23:19
Not sure the last time I saw a trip report with 14,000 gain and 28 miles in a day trip. And done along that route...That’s incredible!

kick ass
08/29/2015 07:25
Nice write up Jomah, and obviously the badassness of the journey speaks for itself. The only thing to add is what was the tonnage of debris you let loose? Haha. And the song stuck in your head reminds me of the touching the void mountaineering story. I’ll chip in for a music player around your next birthday.

Lets go back to longs and do the nesotaieux’s ten tadasanas

EPIC day
08/29/2015 07:43
congrats. "taking the Nope Train to Fuckthatville." hilarious. I will be stealing that line.

08/29/2015 16:12
I thought Megamydial team x2 was sick, but this is nuts! Congrats on pulling it off. Elks traverse next?

FOTM and M5....
08/30/2015 08:04
I think you now know that the whole shebang must be done.

Amazing job, Jomah, and a great trip report!!

This video
08/30/2015 10:48
OMG, this video is so stupid but it’s hilarious. Again, amazing job on your 28 hour day! That’s insane!

08/31/2015 09:06
That is one intense day....well done

08/31/2015 11:58
Ah we know. Jomah throws down.

Question is, do we compete with him or try to recruit him? Gotta pull him off the Centennial kick though.

Thanks all!
09/02/2015 19:03
Kevin – Yeah, still on my list. Think we should do it with the original group
Natalie – Oof, not sure I’m ready for that. It’s a whole ’nother beast
Alicia – So dumb... fo real
Ryan – Recruit me for the whole shebang? I don’t even wanna think about it for a while For real though, I’m just alternating between cool routes and climbing with friends currently

Everyone else – Thanks!

Wanna do it again?
09/02/2019 17:54
Hello my friend, I recently made a post on the infamous Facebook page about a similar trail. However I'd start from Maroon Lake, go up Pyramid, and then take the ridge over to the bells. Would you think this is a good idea? CalTopo put it at 16.43 miles roundtrip, about 42% shorter than your 28.2 trek!
However what you did those days is truly remarkable! I hope you were able to get your goal of summiting all in one year of time! Last summer a friend of mine and myself did 57 in 56 days, only missing culebra and sunlight spire. Truly an unbelievable time and can only hope individuals like yourself could experience such a voyage through time and space.

   Not registered?

Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

Please respect private property: supports the rights of private landowners to determine how and by whom their land will be used. In Colorado, it is your responsibility to determine if land is private and to obtain the appropriate permission before entering the property.

© 2022®, 14ers Inc.