Peak(s):  Maroon Peak  -  14,156 feet
North Maroon Peak  -  14,014 feet
"Thunder Pyramid"  -  13,932 feet
Date Posted:  09/08/2020
Date Climbed:   08/30/2020
Author:  Will_E
 Bells weekend 2020   

Bells Traverse August 2020

South Maroon Peak is the most fantastic mountain in this state, this is without question. I had 2 summits of S. Maroon prior to this trip, they were fantastic. Summer 2020 I had 2 main goals: Make a sizable dent in the centennials, and complete the Grand Traverses. I made good headway on the centennials (as of now I'm at 80), so started looking at nice weather opportunities for the traverses. El Diente-Wilson was done last summer, got Little Bear-Blanca in July, then did the Crestones traverse earlier in August. I wanted the Bells traverse to be last, because I expected it to be the hardest (it was). I also had to do it last because I waited too long to try and get a parking reservation, when I booked my reservation in early July, late August was the earliest available. Fast forward to late August, and my weekend was here.

I started just before 6am, there were storms predicted in the afternoon, I didn't want to have to skip the traverse because of weather. The day started out relatively warm, despite cold weather (and some rain/snow) the day before. I climbed Bard peak on my way over from Aurora, I wanted to do something short and easy so I'd have fresh legs for a big Sunday effort.

Started out with a headlamp, days are getting shorter this time of year. I took an extra bottle of Powerade with me, and dropped it off at the Pyramid turnoff. I had in the back of my head that if I made good time and weather looked good I'd go for the trifecta and do Pyramid too.

Caption Here

My objectives for the day, from Crater Lake.

Looking back on sunrise.

Sun hitting the mountains from avalanche area. I hate waking up early, but sometimes its worth it.

Made my way across the valley floor to the start of the 2800 ft. of greatness.

Playing with pano shots on the 2800 ft of greatness.

Didn't encounter any people until I started up the 2800 ft of greatness, passed a few groups there. Reached the top of the 2800 ft of fun in short order. Now the real fun begins.

From the top of the 2800 ft of fantastic. S. Maroon is so beautiful. I love that mountain.

A few sections had some snowy/icy rocks, but nothing super hazardous.

Getting closer.

Lame attempt at an artsy shot with a cairn.


Reached the summit of S. Maroon in 3:50, pretty good time.

Summit of S. Maroon. Best mountain around. Looking at Pyramid.

Such a great view.

Snowmass, Capitol and N. Maroon all in view.

Eyeing the traverse.

When I first started getting into this mountain thing 2 years ago, I didn't think I'd ever work my way up to something like the Bell's Traverse. I've worked my way up to more challenging levels of exposure and physical abilities very progressively. But now I was here, and felt ready to tackle this route.

Lots of snow and ice on the down climb off South Maroon. I took it pretty slow.

Looking back up the initial down climb off S. Maroon.


The low point of the traverse is the Bell Cord Couloir. Someday....

Time to start climbing up.

The route across the traverse is really pretty straightforward. I'm not the greatest route finder around, but really there's only so far you can wander off this route and live to tell about it. There are cairns here and there, but really its not difficult to figure out where to go. The views, the climbing and the exposure are great up here.

Along the traverse.

From the traverse. Favorite shot of the weekend.

Looking down one of the rock towers I ascended.

Looking back as I near the summit of N. Maroon.

From North Maroon's Summit.

Made it across the traverse in 70 minutes. I think I could have done it under an hour without the snowy downclimb off S. Maroon. Something to shoot for next time. Descended N. Maroon's standard route and reached the Pyramid turnoff about 2:30. I knew I could get up and down Pyramid in about 5 hours, so I went for it. Made good time to treeline, and then clouds started building. Took my headphones out so I could listen for thunder, and continued through the amphitheater. As I reached the end of the amphitheater, I heard the dreaded thunder. Ugh. Altimeter showed me to be around 12,100, clouds to the west didn't look good, and I was probably 90 minutes from standing on Pyramid's summit. I reluctantly turned back. Getting to see the Pyramid goats on the way back down made it a worthwhile side trip.

Turning back is so hard, but the thunder sounded close. Had a few lightning flashes on the way down too.

Pyramid goats are the second best. S. Maroon is the best.

The next day I went up Thunder Pyramid, I'll spare the extensive play by play (I didn't take a lot of pictures anyway), and just say that the route is okay until reaching the long gully to the summit. That gully feels every bit as long as Red Gully on Crestone Peak, but its a loose sloppy mess. Glad I was alone in it. The views from Thunder are fantastic, its great seeing the bells and 'regular' Pyramid from different angles.

Got off track a bit here, but got a nice photo from it.


Bells from summit of Thunder.

'Regular' Pyramid.

Stats from Bell's Traverse and halfway up Pyramid.

Stats from Thunder Pyramid

Thanks for reading.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Holy Damn
09/08/2020 23:31
You do have a love for Maroon. Damn beautiful and interesting photos.

What Green Onion said...
09/09/2020 10:59
Great pictures and a very solid effort!

Great weekend
09/10/2020 07:11
We climbed Pyramid on 8/30/20, only 7 people climbed it the entire day. It was awesome to have the summit to ourselves for the 45 mins we were on the summit.

Excellent report
09/10/2020 23:32
What a great weekend and wonderful photographs.

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