I'm visiting Aspen and Maroon Bells this august and now consider hiking atop the South Maroon Peak. Not a super-experience climber here, would like to know how Sth Maroon it compares to Longs Peak that I climbed last summer (Keyhole route)
Any ideas on difficluty/exposure? I have a moderate fear of hights but overcame it on Longs (the Narrows).. Does Sth Maroon have more exposure? Is it more technically demanding?
It it worth it, from your point of view? I really liked on Longs, what about the Bell? Also.. I didn't have any helmet/trekking poles on Longs.. are they a must on Sth Maroon?
Maroon is much looser, and the route finding is more complicated with blind corners and loose gullies. I don't think its more technically demanding, or necessarily more exposed - but it certainly feels more exposed. The narrows are solid, while the ledges on Maroon are loose, so they tug at your feet a lot more because you feel them moving. The steep slopes leading to the ridge are also a real grunt, the trail is supposed to be better now than when I did it, but its still much steeper and more direct than Longs. I think the mileage is less and elevation gain comparable, but Maroon is certainly at least as physically demanding and Longs is. I would say in general you would probably find Maroon harder and more exposed than Longs given the route finding and loose rock.
Helmet is a very good idea, the peak is popular enough that you should expect climbers above you, but even if there are not, there are goats that could knock rocks down, they did when I was up it.
The mountain can be quite an enjoyable climb and the route finding can add to the fun, so certainly the peak is worth it. However, the loose rock is no joke especially if a lot of people are on the mountain, climb carefully so not to knock stuff on others and start early enough to hopefully be ahead of the groups as you get into the looser gullies to better protect yourself from rockfall.
Yes. Crater Lake CG is open to campers. There are two sites at the beginning of the lake (pre-slide) and the rest that weren't wiped out by the avy are further up the trail. No fee necessary. First come basis. The shuttle is $3.00 per person. I just came back from there.