Maroon Peak and Mt. of the Holy Cross

David Stillman

I drove to the Maroon-Snowmass trailhead on Friday night and slept in the back of the truck, alarm set for 3:15. I woke up and hit the trail just after 3:30am and a cup of coffee. The trail is largely flat until a junction at 10,400' or so, just two miles from the summit. I turned off at around 5am and headed straight up for nearly 4,000' of vertical and made the summit at 8:30 to beautiful skies.

With it being early and VHF quiet, I set up hf and made a few contacts on 20m while an airplane was doing some swooping fly-by maneuvers, which made _my_ stomach turn just watching. I jumped over to VHF and worked all the summits that had made it by 10:30. I packed up and decided to do the low 5th class traverse over to North Maroon a half mile away, which was harrowing to say the least. I have some 360° video of the adventure, I'll throw that on youtube and add it to this thread. There were some folks on N. Maroon that were actually headed the reverse direction over to Maroon when I was headed down at 11:45 or so, which made me question their sanity just a bit...

I made it in about an hour, and from there it's a 4th class scramble back to Crater lake and on to the truck, which was in a then very crowded parking lot. I made my way through Boom Days in Leadville and on to the trailhead at Mt. of the Holy Cross.


It started raining almost as soon as I parked. I cooked a quick dinner in the back of the truck under the camper shell, and shared a couple beers and some stories under a tarp with a guy camping in a subaru a few cars down. I went to sleep to the soothing pitter-patter of rain above my head...

... and woke up to same at 3:30 when my alarm went off. The forecast said a chance of scattered showers before 2pm, and a chance of showers after 2pm, which was not super helpful. I decided to hike in the rain until the sun came up and make a summit call then, when I had some visibility.

It rained most of the first few miles, but seemed to be letting up when I got to treeline. I pushed on, hoping for the best. Gaining the NW ridge I met some fellow climbers, and we were all eyes to the sky. We seemed to be in between a set of storms, so decided to push on despite everyone's better judgement. A few hundred vertical from the summit the rain let up so we decided to go for it.

I got to the summit just after 8am and was able to make one contact with W0BV before the next storm really started rolling in. We started down the mountain two minutes later, when we saw the first lightning of the day. I counted to six before the thunder, so just over a mile away and approaching fast. A few hundred vertical down we encountered strong winds and hail blowing sideways into our faces, and I wound up basically running across the Boulder field to treeline as fast as possible. It alternated between bluebird skies and rain the rest of the hike down, and even on the drive back on I70.

Bummed not to activate (and to be honest was pushing my luck as it is) but the mountain is presumably still there and I'll live to climb it another day. As Bob said, there's always next year :)


David KI6YMZ