OverviewThis is the easiest and standard route up North Maroon. North Maroon is considered to be one of the more difficult of the Colorado 14ers.
Although the climbing is not very technical or difficult, loose rock and big crowds can make this a dangerous climb. If you know how to use an ice axe, early season ascents have less rockfall, but a slip could prove disastrous.
This is a beautiful climb and in my opinion, much more aesthetic and more enjoyable than the standard route up South Maroon.
This route can be busy on summer weekends and in summer is best done during the week if you wish to have a safer and less crowded climb.
Getting ThereFrom just went of Aspen, located the roundabout at the start of the Maroon Creek Trailhead. There are signs.
Drive the Maroon Creek Road. Drive a total of 4.7 miles (the winter and spring road closure is 3.2 miles along the road) to the Maroon Lakes entrance station.
In summer, this road is closed during the day unless you are backpacking. A convenient shuttle bus goes to the lake.
Continue to the end of the road by way of driving or shuttle bus. This is 9 miles from the roundabout. There are separate day use and overnight parking lots.
Route DescriptionFrom the Maroon Lake Trailhead hike west 1.75 miles on a good and well use trail, with little gain in altitude, towards Crater Lake to where there is a signed trail junction just short of the lake.
At the trail intersection at 10,700, turn right and hike west on the Maroon-Snowmass trail for 0.75 miles to an unsigned trailhead that is usually marked with a cairn. This brings you to the point where you will make a left off the main trail onto the climbers path, which is smaller than the main trail.
Cross the little creek at the best spot and continue on the climbers trail up a steep, sometimes muddy trail and west to the end of the small basin below North Maroon's North Face. The trails have been consolidated by the Colorado 14ers Initiative, so there is only one trail these days.
You will reach the rock glacier at which point a rough cairn-marked route crosses the rock glacier. Aim for a break in the cliffs on the other side.
Walk south around a corner and continue on a well defined trail. Not long after the corner, you will climb 200 feet and then turn left and hike into a gully which is the next portion of the route.
In the gully the climbers trail makes steep switch-backs up the to about 12,800 where you will encounter a small cliff band. Pick the easiest way through, usually by way of a cleft (low class 4, loose) near the center of the cliff. Watch for falling rock from parties above from this point on. A helmet is highly recommended.
At this point you leave the old gully and traverse south into a new gully which follow ledges to the crest of the Northeast Ridge at about 13,200. From this point follow on or near the ridge to the summit. Some class 4 moves are required along the ridge to the summit depending on the exact route you chose. If you find yourself on loose class 5 rock, then you are off route and should back track. A few loose portions can be bypassed on low 5th class rock.
Descend the climbing route making sure that you to not pass the exit point on the first gully as it leads to a steep, loose cliff.
Round trip distance is approximately 9.25 miles with 4500 vertical feet elevation gain. This route take most climbs all day. Some camp at Crater Lake in order to get an early start.
The 13200' ridge crest north of North Maroon can also be easily approached from upper Snowmass Creek. The scramble to the ridge crest from the west is class 3.