(Last Updated On: June 12, 2011)
The South Face of Maroon Peak seems to pop up in almost every trip report we do here on 14erskiers. It’s such an aesthetic face, and it seems to be visible from every high peak in the Crested Butte area. Though I was able to ski it on an overnight trip back in 2003, it’s been a long-standing goal of mine to ski it in a day from Crested Butte. Though one-day descents of this line have recently become common from the Maroon Lake trailhead on the Aspen side, Crested Butte skiers generally set up camp somewhere in the upper East Fork of the Crystal River, below Frigid Air Pass. Single day trips up Maroon would be relatively easy with a snowmobile if snowmobiles were allowed through the town of Gothic, which for some reason they are not, despite the same road seeing thousands of cars, trucks, ATV’s and motorcycles all summer long. Sigh.
We considered making an attempt last weekend, but convinced ourselves the face would already be runneled and avalanche-strewn due the sunny exposure and preponderance of dark rocks on the face. So we skied some lines up Rustler’s Gulch instead. Thanks to the internet, we discovered that the face was actually in great shape as of Sunday, so we made plans to ski it while we still could. Safely past Gothic, we made our way up to the Wilderness boundary in Schofield Park and started up the long gradual climb to Frigid Air Pass. Things were looking good:
Sometimes Frigid Air can be a major obstacle to accessing Fravert Basin, as it is guarded be large cornices. The late, great Jack Hannon had to dig a hole through the cornice on a trip to Maroon back in the late 90’s. Thankfully we arrived at a pretty small spot, and it was easy enough to jump in. Pete gives the count-down:
None of us were particularly excited about skiing such a fine route in such poor conditions, so we descended, traversed, then re-ascended to a notch that some friends had used to reach Lost Remuda Basin, hoping we could salvage the day via a different route. Brittany on the way up:
From the notch, looking at the ridge connecting Maroon to Snowmass. I don’t know if this ridge traverse has ever been completed, but I know some people have their eye on it. Lost Remuda is down and to the right.
Unfortunately, there was no way we were going to be able to check out the West face without dropping a ton of elevation and heading even farther from home. We made one more foray up Maroon before deciding to call it a day.