I’ve always wondered about skiing the standard climbing route (with direct finish at base) on North Maroon Peak in Colorado’s Elk Mountains. The other day Wyoming ski mountaineer Brian Story did exactly that. I believe this is the first time the route had been skied, and demonstrates the exceptional snowpack we have in the Elk Mountains this season. Not every year is this terrific, so it’s wonderful to see all the lines that are falling. Good job Brian! Here is his TR:
“Lou (Mr. Dawson) –
Hope your spring skiing has been enjoyable. I’m a young (23) ski mountaineer currently living in Laramie, Wyoming. In addition to checking your web blog almost daily (good job, by the way), I have gleaned a ton of information from your 14’er guidebooks and Wild Snow.
The main reason I am emailing is to report a possible new ski route I completed solo last Saturday (4/29/06) on the Northeast Ridge of North Maroon Peak directly from Crater Lake. I climbed the route and skied from the exact summit — 5 hours to climb and 1.75 hours to descend. I chose to take off my skis and downclimb one short (30 foot) section. I passed all other cliffbands by sidestepping, traversing, or making small jumps. In several sections, slopes hovered around and above 50 degrees but never exceeded 55 degrees. Snow was generally bad and varied from powder to corn to ice with some rocks and trees and one ice bulge.
I would recommend this line to anyone looking for a long, technical ski with route finding challenges. Although long and complicated, this line does not offer the quality skiing of the Bell Cord couloir or Stammberger N. face.
The rest of the trip was good – skied the upper east face of S. Maroon Peak into an avalanche-ravaged Bell Cord couloir into the Garbage Chute on Sun. (4/30). Excellent skiing with some powder in the Bell Cord. I won’t be back soon to ski the Bell Cord – the objective hazards from rockfall and avalanche are immediate and severe. I also made an attempt on the Stammberger N. face today (5/1), but turned around at the base of the face due to avalanche concerns (4″ of new snow). After enduring harsh wind and thin snow in the Front Range this year, the Elks blew me away – comparable to the Tetons in terms of scale and quality of ski lines.
Safe Travels, Brian Story ”
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.