Route: North Face
Team: Ted, Neal Beidleman
Our day on South Maroon last week was a great day by all accounts. At its conclusion, over beers at the car while looking back up towards the Bells we agreed North Maroon Peak still looked good.
Neal was motivated by the idea of being able to ski all six Elk Range 14ers in one season– a feat only once done, by Davenport earlier that spring, and then later by me in 2008– and I wanted nothing less than to keep the spring ski mountaineering season going for as long as possible.
Nearing mid-June, with air temperatures pretty high, we thought a climb of the North Face to be unlikely. The snow was a bit too soft for climbing although still OK for skiing. We decided on a less common, but more predictable route choice, we would climb the Bellcord Couloir, whose conditions were familiar from last weeks trip, and then reach the summit of North Maroon via the ridge between the peaks. The ridge is a committing scramble in dry conditions. Many rate it in the 5th class at its toughest sections, some use a rope. We thought that sounded like fun.
We blazed the dry trail to the base of the Bellcord Couloir and motored up to its top. The west side of the ridge was pretty dry, so the climbing to the summit of North Maroon wasn’t too bad, although challenging in ski boots. Up top, Neal made the always important phone calls to friends to make it known where we were (on the summit), and they were (at the office etc.), and we were off.
Downclimbing the highest rock band was necessary, unlike my trip here in 2005. From there, the North Face skied great, with good corn snow. One rocky section in the middle which required some “ski drytooling” if-you-will, and we were GS-ing all the way down to Minnehaha Creek. We had to boogie because Neal had a dentist appointment at 1pm in town and I had to work later. I love those active mornings.
And that did it for 05/06. Ten peaks skied and eight of them repeats. Next season I’ll chip away at the list a little better. 06/07 began with a good start up in Montezuma.