MAROON PEAK     Scrolling Photos     Back


After an enjoyable climb of North Maroon Peak I was anxious to stand at the top of it's southern twin to
entertain the notion of perhaps traversing between the two on the Bell Cord.  After an early start I 
followed the trail around the right side of the lake for three miles or so before following a well trodden
trail that quickly climbed the mountain's eastern slope.  Various cairned trails led to the ridge above; I
chose a way to the right while another climber I had stopped to talk with - Carl Strippel - climbed left.
After gaining the ridge I stopped to eat a bit and wait for Carl to join me.  While I enjoy hiking the lower
reaches solo I always prefer company when the route finding gets more challenging above.

Carl and I took our time working our way up, choosing between countless optional routes, mostly
following cairns that kept the climb at a Class 3 endeavor.  The weather was fine and we reached the
summit after a patient effort.  While on top I was able to get a good look at the traverse between the
peaks known as the Bell Cord.  A group of eight climbers from Mesa College could be seen climbing
one of the traverse's three Class 5 difficulties using fixed ropes.  I watched for awhile and entertained
the notion of down climbing to catch them, but then opted to return the way I came with Carl and
save the Cord for another day.

After carefully working our way back down to the ridge Carl and I exited too soon and were faced with
a steep descent of the slope back to the valley below.  The steepness of the slope beat up the legs
and feet as we had to fight gravity most of the way until we finally reached some switchbacked trails.
Just before we reached the bottom Carl slipped in some scree and dislocated his right elbow in a quick
but painful fall.  From that point the objective changed to just getting Carl out of the mountains
safely without further mishap and to the hospital in Aspen for treatment.  

Carl and I took our time to hike back to Crater Lake.  With no acute pain and no neurological symptoms
he seemed alright.  At the lake I asked Jeff, who works as a professional nurse, to attend to Carl,
walk him back to the trailhead, and take him to the hospital.  Carl reached the hospital without further
incident, called his wife, and was left in good hands.  After they straightened him out, he would probably
have enough time to get out and climb some more this summer.

The Maroon Bells and Pyramid Peak have taken a large toll on climbers with injury and death.  Never to 
be taken for granted, the mountains must always be approached with respect and a wide margin for
safety.  This was my first trip to Colorado in which someone did not die on a fourteener while I was 
climbing there.  One never fully appreciates the gravity of the decisions made in route selection and
careful movement.  Returning home without personal injury for perhaps the first time I was glad I
could help someone else who was less fortunate.