Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Bells Traverse in pictures

Part 1 - gaining the ridge

  • aka "the warm-up" aka "the Incline without steps"
  • 3,000' gain in just over a mile

Part 2 - Maroon's south ridge

  • aka let the fun begin
  • It's much more of a face than a ridge, but what do I know.

Part 3 - The Traverse

  • The fun part 
  • aka don't tell mom

Part 4 - descending North Maroon

  • aka "the hangover" 
  • aka "the payback"
  • aka "rock glacier hell"

This was my second time ringing the Bells, the first being back in 2010 with Patrick.  I would say this time was as much, if not more fun, than that trip.  On the traverse specifically, we made many different micro-decisions this time around.  Last time, the fear of choosing the wrong line on the traverse had me pretty wigged out.  This time, it became clear that there are many ways to skin a Maroon cat.

As you can see by the pictures, Jake and I "picked up" a random dude named Dustin.  He was prepared to do South Maroon only and we were prepared to cut ties with him.  Other than the absence of a melonguard, his decisions were solid and it was evident he was a guy we could trust.

Both Jake and I felt much better than the day before on Holy Cross.  I only went through a little over a liter of water, whereas the previous day saw me put down at least four liters by the time I went to sleep.

It is easy to view this route in its parts - basically, everything under 13,300' sucks.  I'd rather do a burpee mile than cross North Maroon's rock glacier again.  The climb up South Maroon is steep and relentless - slightly more pleasureable than a 75-minute series of kicks in the pants, but not much more so.  However, the short sweet spot in between more than makes up for it.  There aren't many places out there where one can earn the right to crawl around like a monkey while experiencing some sick views.  It's a classic.  Simply put, if you CAN do the Bells traverse, then you SHOULD.


  1. Sean O'day, I hope Cale doesn't grow up with your passion for such a dangerous sport. I want to see him live a long healthy life and some of these mountains look like they could change that in the blink of an eye. From Cales grandpa, Duane Adams

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