North Maroon – Sans Piolet!
This is a quickie, both in the day and the write-up. Here’s the debrief:
Neal had the morning free and wanted to go do something fun. I’ll be at Hardrock next week and was looking for more than a routine trail run. Very direct and in parts runable, we both agreed a fast lap on North Maroon’s Grassy Gully sounded good.
So up we went.
Even though we knew we would encounter snow, the thought was to leave the bulky snow climbing gear at home so we could move faster, and if the conditions became too challenging we’d just turn back. Snow this time of year can often be traveled safely upon without crampons or axes. The gear list was short– visor, sunglasses, some water, a bit of food, lite gloves and a camera.
We ran most of the trail to Minnehaha Creek where we found there to be no way across without getting wet. Above the creek the trail was muddy and slick. Traversing to the gullies involved crossing a few snow patches which we could kick steps into pretty easily. Going ‘sans piolet’ we employed any pick-like rocks we could find as third points of contact and self arrest aids if needed, of which thankfully they weren’t. Much of the snow could be passed on scree above or below.
The gullies themselves were dry and only upon climbing out of them and onto the edge of the North Face did we find ourselves on snow again. In lieu of gaiters or long pants and despite being a major fashion faux pas, we wore ski socks which we pulled up high to prevent any postholing or crust from scraping up our shins. A couple more dagger shaped rocks were put to use in place of ice axes and gloves were put on to keep our hands from getting cut up. Steps were easily kicked into the semi-soft snow with our trail running shoes, the two cliff bands were easily handled and about 2:50 after leaving the parking lot, we were on top. Not too impressive when compared to the 1:52 Neal recorded “back in the day,” but still respectable considering the more mixed conditions we found today.
Twenty five minutes up top and we were on our way home, pulling into the parking lot right around five hours after starting and getting Neal home in time to meet his lunchtime meeting deadline.
Here are some more pics to show the conditions in the area–