Skiing the North Face of North Maroon
Carl, Marc, Derek, and I met up at the Maroon Lake TH in the predawn hours of May 23rd, 2010. Our goal: the uber-classic North Face of North Maroon Peak on skis. None of us had ever climbed or skied this face before, and given the notoriety of this face and it's history, we knew we were in for a fun one. We started from Maroon Lake at 3am under starry skies. With most of the approach melted out, we were able to stay in boots and keep skis on our backs all the way to Crater Lake. Heading north from Crater Lake we found ourselves stuck in a willow field, wallowing for several minutes each in branches up to our necks before finally breaking out below the North Face.
We were treated to outstanding views of Pyramid Peak as we made our way across North Maroon's 12,000' apron.
After a long break near a rock at the base of the massive face to crampon up and tighten everything down, we started on up.
Carl, this face is steep from the outset:
We elected to climb the face in its entirety as none of us had skied the route before. Those who know the way down through the cliff bands have the luxury of taking the ridge to the summit, which is both safer and more efficient.
Above the ski exit chute, we were faced with a long climbing traverse:
Through a chute in the center of the face, we traversed climber's left again across steep ground:
The snow was getting soft as this face is practically more east-facing than north. An earlier start time would have benefited us greatly. We decided to pick up the pace but we had a tough battle ahead as the snow just got deeper the higher we climbed.
Snowmass and Capitol from high on the face:
Slowly but surely we made our way to the base of the punk rock band and headed far climber's left towards a break in the cliffs:
Heading up Punk Rock:
We strolled up the final few feet to the summit and immediately geared up for the ski. By now the snow down lower was likely getting soft and we wanted to get things rolling as quickly as possible.
Summit of North Maroon, looking over at South:
Marc heads out:
Me making turns high on the summit ridge:
Next was getting past punk rock, which is considered to be one of the cruxes of skiing North Maroon.
Carl makes a turn uncomfortably close to the void:
We each negotiated punk rock via our own method:
Next was a skiing traverse to the left across the massive upper-face:
Derek and Pyramid:
Down through a chute we traversed back skier's right, following our booter through the cliff bands:
Locating and skiing down a narrow slot that cuts through the major mid-face cliff bands was another crux.
View over Carl's skis:
Cutting through the cliffs:
After another small, albeit mandatory air, we were on the final traverse left to the exit chute.
Once out of the exit chute, we made fun turns down the apron and back to Crater Lake:
The route as seen from Crater Lake:
After reaching the parking lot, we retreated to Aspen for burgers and beers. Overall I would say this is a manageable face given good snow and first-hand knowledge of the descent. Though steep with several narrow sections and two mandatory airs, this face is certainly attainably for the everyday ski mountaineer.
Thanks for reading!