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North Maroon
Elevation: 14,014 feet
Mileage: 8.0 miles
Vertical Gain: 4,450 feet
Route: Northeast Ridge

July 23rd, 2005

Another weekend, another foray into Colorado’s Elk Range. The drive to Aspen is becoming routine, I’ll be able to do it in my sleep soon. However, I never get tired of rounding that final corner on the Maroon Lake Road and seeing the Maroon Bells tower over the valley. From Maroon Lake, “The Bells” seem to scrape the sky and beckon climbers like a high-altitude playground. Unfortunately upon closer inspection, climbers soon realize that somebody forgot to tighten all the nuts and bolts on this playground and it seems poised to collapse onto itself with the slightest disturbance. North Maroon is no exception, its loose rock and exposed slopes reaffirm the Elk Range’s reputation of dangerous peaks. Approach this peak with caution and respect.

If I gave every trip report a fitting title, the title for this one would be, “When a good plan goes bad.” First things first though, let’s start with the plan. My friend Matt has climbed all the 14ers aside from Culebra and had climbed both of The Bells before, doing the traverse from North Maroon to South Maroon. He was interested in doing the Bells Traverse again this summer so the date was set and the time had arrived. We planned to traverse from North to South Maroon again, like Matt had previously done. We would bring a rope along for the traverse in case we encountered a down climb we didn’t like. This would allow us the option to rappel over any difficulties. Sounded like a great plan.

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