RT Length: 12.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 5156’
This was actually my second attempt on Sleeping Sexton: I was here last week but got turned around at the false summit due to getting ‘buzzed’. I figured it was for the best however, because I had done some serious route finding that morning and now I could provide a clear and useful GPX file for the route, instead of one with a lot of attempts that didn’t lead anywhere.
I made it to the Maroon Bells welcome station, and this time the attendant recognized me. We chatted for a bit, as he was interested in some of the summits I was doing. Then he referred me to talk with someone at their offices in town, and we’re basically best friends now.
It was raining when I arrived, but people were walking around Maroon Lake anyway.
I was on the trail at 2:15am.
From the parking area, here’s an overview of the route above treeline to the false summit
The trail starts by skirting Maroon Lake, then taking the Crater Lake trail southwest.
There was a full moon out, so I didn’t need my flashlight.
At the junction for Crater Lake I continued following trail 1975 northwest. This is the trail you take if you’re doing the Northeast route for North Maroon Peak. There are camping spots just before the next junction.
The trail continues to be a well defined, class 1 trail. At about 10775’ there’s another junction. If you’ve hiked North Maroon Peak before, you’ll recognize this trail. I turned left here and crossed the creek, following the North Maroon Peak Trail (still class 1)
Here’s an overview of the trek to the false summit (or ‘the crown’) from the creek crossing. I followed the North Maroon Peak’s Northeast Ridge Route until I made it to tundra, at about 11,600’. I then left the trail and headed northwest, behind this outcropping, to the base of the white gully. I then trekked up the ridge and followed the white gully until it ended. Here’s a basic overview.
Here are some step by step photos of the way I accessed the white gully: I followed the North Maroon Trail to treeline
At 11,600’ I left the North Maroon Trail and headed northwest
Here you can see the base of the white gully. I didn’t want to climb straight up the gully, as it was very steep. Instead, I accessed the ridge, and followed the ridge to the white gully. (I did this after spending a lot of time last week trying to see if the smaller gullies ‘went’ to access the white gully, and turned back every time because I didn’t have rope. I believe it’s much easier to access the ridge first and then head up).
Here’s exactly where I entered and exited the ridge. I found this to be class 2 and direct access. Now’s a great time to put on your helmet if you haven’t already done so.
Once on the ridge I followed it west, staying in-between the ridge and the white gully (to the right of the gully, but left of the ridge). If you look for them, you’ll find game trails here (you may have to duck under some branches to use them though).
Once near the white gully, I found the terrain to the right to be more stable than the white gully itself, especially on my way down.
Topping out of the white gully felt class 3
From here it became ‘choose your own adventure’ as I followed the ridge southwest. I started out rounding the ridge’s north side, and then went back and forth between north and south sides of the ridge a few times. There are cairns here, and nothing is more difficult than class 4. In fact, if you’re extra careful/spend a lot of time route finding, you can probably keep this at mostly class 3. Here’s the route I took:
From the top of the white gully I rounded the corner and made my way back to the ridge. It had rained the night before, so I had to be extra careful with every foot placement (wet = slippery)
Once back on the ridge I followed it for a ways
Before hitting a bit of a shelf and crossing over to the south side of the ridge
I followed the ridge to the false summit / ‘the crown’
From the false summit you can see the true summit of Sleeping Sexton
And now, the fun route finding begins! I descended the false summit 125’ and crossed a gully. There were cairns here to help in the crossing (circled in red). These are steep and go at class 3/4
After crossing the first gully I descended once again, another 160’
I was now at 13,130’, and parallel with the saddle between Sleeping Sexton and the false summit. I followed the contour of the mountain to the ‘secret ledge’. Here’s what that looks like heading in
I crossed the ledge to the ‘saddle’, then skirted the side of the mountain and headed up to the summit
The ledge is not as bad as it looks. There’s a cairn here (circled in red) DO NOT DESCEND HERE. Instead, use it as a reference point and stay level with it (especially on your way back) and continue following the ledge. If you do this, it stays class 2 to the saddle.
From there it was an easy trek to the summit, first skirting the mountainside
And then ascending the ridge
I summited Sleeping Sexton at 6:45am, just as the weather started rolling in
Since the weather wasn’t cooperating I didn’t stay long. I turned and headed back the way I’d hiked in. Here’s looking back at the false summit / ‘the crown’
And a view making it back to the ledge
Here are some more images of that ledge, looking back. Remember to look for the cairn, and stay level with it.
For reference, here’s the size of the route. The route can clearly be seen over my shoulder (to the left)
I rounded the corner, and ascended the gully, aiming for the cairns
Crossed the next gully
And gained the ridge to the false summit / ‘the crown’
I actually stayed here for a bit because I had cell service. I let my family know I was ok, and downloaded the weather forecast for the next day. However, eventually the clouds told me to get going.
Clouds rolling in:
Here are some pictures of my way back to the white gully
Back down the white gully to the ridge
And from the ridge back to the trail
Once back on the trail it was an easy, class 1 hike back to the parking area.
I made it back to my truck at 11:30am, making this a 12.7 mile hike with 5156’ of elevation gain in 9 hours, 15 minutes.
It was still early in the day, so I ate lunch by Maroon Lake, read for a bit, looked at topo maps for tomorrow, and jotted down notes in my journal before making it an early night. Oh, I forgot to mention the goats: They were the same two goats I saw last week, and if for no other reason than them, wear your helmet until you make it back onto the class 1 trail: They were kicking rocks down the gullies the entire time I was there.