Peak(s):  North Maroon Peak  -  14,022 feet
Date Posted:  03/21/2022
Modified:  03/22/2022
Date Climbed:   03/07/2020
Author:  SnowAlien
Additional Members:   JtheChemE, Kevin Baker
 North Maroon in winter 2020   

North Maroon NW ridge

March 6th-8th, 2020

Ann Driggers, Kevin Baker, Justin Becker

I had made a solo attempt on North Maroon in early February 2020, encountering challenging snow conditions, particularly around the Gunsight tower. With another party successful a week later, I was chomping at the bit. Thankfully, Ann decided to come on the trip and help with trailbreaking. Halfway through the 9 mile approach, I got a Delorme message from Kevin Baker that he was also going to make an attempt next day as a daytrip. The more the merrier, as far as I am concerned. With Ann's help, we were able to reach a campsite about a mile further than on my solo trip a few weeks earlier. Instead of melting snow, I tried to get some water from the creek and promptly fell though, soaking in one of my ski boots. Then I had a hard time crawling out of the steep and deep snow well.

On the approach
past the logjam
Ann on the approach
Oops, I fell into a well

Thankfully, the liner was practically dry by the time Kevin and Justin showed up in the morning, after the first leg of their 36-hour "daytrip" death march. They were on snowshoes and I was on skis. I was moving a bit quicker, having gotten some rest at night. Finally done with the approach, it was time to stash the skis and put crampons on. From my perch I could see Ann's tent gone from the valley (she didn't have plans for the peak). Only my tent remained. After doing my research, I decided to bypass the Gunsight tower to the right, but could see Kevin and Justin continue in the direction of the standard gully. Slow, but steady I made it to the saddle @ 13k. Just as before, the Gunsight looked very intimidating and I was glad not to deal with it this time. I took a break and decided to wait for the guys since they are normally quite a bit faster than me. After delayering and a snack break, they were nowhere to be seen, so I decided to proceed. Besides, I wasn't sure that Gunsight traverse won't cause them a turnaround as it stopped me 3 weeks prior.

Getting ready
Starting out
Our goal
looking back
My ascent route
Gunsight traverse

Since I just did NW ridge of North Maroon the prior spring on the way to ski the north face (with the goal to check it out for winter), I didn't expect any major difficulties after the Gunsight saddle. But with different loading patterns in winter vs spring, the route finding proved to be challenging. After endless traversing and booting in steep & deep snow, I was sort of in a dead-end. I finally found a precarious perch to check the route on my phone, and by then Kevin and Justin finally caught up to me. They didn't look too happy when I told them I was off-route. :) I wasn't ready to give up yet, so decided to check out the next ledge with the hopes it may go before reversing the steep booter. After a few sketchy moves, I made it to the next ledge and could see the promising path to the ridge proper. Justin and Kevin followed me, we reached the ridge and I finally felt that North Maroon was indeed within grasp. The rest of the ridge was just like remembered it from the spring, and I didn't even have skis with me this time. Just after 3pm we finally summitted.

Kevin and Justin catching up
Justin on the ledge
Justin on the ledge that will connect to the ridge
Justin and Kevin on the ridge
Pyramid across the valley
Starting the descent
Justin on the descent

After a very brief stay, three of us headed back down. I was hoping the descent would be easier, but once again, there were a few tricky spots and the route felt harder than in the spring. The guys confirmed that Gunsight tower traverse was very challenging and had no desire to do it on the way back, so we all descended a variation of the route I went up. The problem was, the snow wasn't providing much of the support that late in the day. Kevin & I finally found a more consolidated strip of snow and waited for Justin to downclimb the steep face. I was incredibly relieved to be back to my ski stash in one piece. I bid good-byes to "slowshoers", clicked in and skied back to camp in the waning daylight, arriving by 7pm.

Next morning
Endless ski out

I was too exhausted to eat, but boiled some water for a hot drink and crawled into my sleeping bag. I fell asleep for an hour or so, but then heard the steps. Whoever it was - I thought it was Justin - I offered to crash in my 2 person tent. He was quickly asleep. Some time later I heard more steps. Kevin arrived and wanted to take a nap also. I gave one of my sleeping pads and we all managed to fit in. However, I had trouble sleeping because the side that was pressing against the tent wall was very cold. I drifted in and out of sleep. Around 2am Kevin, unable to fall asleep, decided to continue, although it had started snowing some time ago. Kevin and Justin left and I was finally able to fall into a deep sleep. I woke up the next morning around 8am to a few inches of new snow on the ground. I was hoping the trail won't be too obscured. I packed up and made the long, almost 5 hour exit on skis. Upon arrival, I heard about 36-hour ordeal for the guys and the start of the Covid news wave. Despite my best hopes, Capitol would have to wait for another time.

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Comments or Questions
03/22/2022 19:37
What happened to your partner from your approach? She disappeared from your report!

Quite the outing, thanks for sharing!
36hrs out doesn't sound like fun. hahaha...but I suck and lean toward being a sissy.

03/22/2022 20:29
My bad - Ann packed up and left in the morning. She wasn't planning on N Maroon, she was just helping me with the approach - and she loves camping!
36 hours is really something - not for me either. Never been into single push things - too much risk, imo if something does go wrong.

Trip down Memory Lane
03/26/2022 06:08
I think I had Kevin and I's time pegged closer to 38h. That said, having woke up 4am to work a full day before Kevin and I were scheduled to leave TH at 9PM, by the time I found you and Kevin at your tent I'd been up over 40 hours. There may have been hallucinations prior to the Firstlight catnap. You forgot to mention that it snowed and the wind blew in around 6-8" overnight, and Kevin and I had to re-trench until well back into the trees! Kevin mentioned 'Pain Cave' a few times, and in hindsight this trip fits the bill.

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