RT Length: 16.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 5815’
I decided to hike these peaks from the Maroon Bells area because I had a pass and was already there. I knew today was going to be a straightforward but long day, and it was supposed to storm in the morning, so I was up extra early and on the trail at 2am. I started at the Maroon Lake trailhead, and passed a few deer grazing in the dark. I skirted Maroon Lake to the right, and continued on the trail towards Crater Lake.
At the first junction I continued straight, and followed Maroon Snowmass Trail 1975 up into Minnehaha Gulch.
I continued on this trail all the way to Willow Pass.
This is a class 1 trail that crosses a creek, then heads north through the basin.
Stay right at this sign
And follow the trail to Willow Pass.
CalTopo tells me I hiked 5 miles from the parking area to Willow Pass. From Willow Pass you can see today’s peaks
From Willow Pass I descended 560’ into the basin
I came to the Junction for East Snowmass Trail/Willow Lake, and turned left, following the East Snowmass Trail.
I was now following the trail towards the saddle of PT 13336 and PT 13020
The upper basin was really neat, as I could see two different types of rocks, one coming from each mountain. The color contrast was interesting. The trail was still class 1 to the saddle, staying on the tundra/red dirt.
Once at the saddle it’s a good idea to put your helmet on. I decided to tackle PT 13336 first. This is class 3, and takes place on loose rock. You may want to put on your microspikes for added traction. The red dirt was mushy because it had recently rained, but it was still loose. Here’s the route I took, as seen from higher up on PT 13020 later in the morning:
And here are some step by step pictures of the route:
Easily walk around the first two obstacles to keep this part class 2
Next, you can either skirt the next obstacle to the left to keep this class 2, or go straight up and over if you like class 3
Now, keeping the ridge in front of you, the route becomes class 3. Head between these two boulders and ease a little left
Look for a break in the rock formation and scramble up
You can now clearly see the ridge. Keep the ridge to your right, and skirt the north side of the ridge. There is no need to go up and over the ridge at this point.
The rock here is loose, and only gets looser. Follow the loose rock up a sort of side gully.
At the top of this rubble the rock changes. It’s no longer the loose Maroon rock: it now becomes the loose Snowmass rock. This rock is very slippery when wet, and even when not, so take care. These rocks are not stable. Just assume they all move. Cross this gully high. There is still no need to gain the ridge, you can stay just a bit below
I have a feeling the terrain here shifts often, so pick your way carefully. I traversed the ledge by staying about 50 feet below the ridge, and then gaining the ridge through a gully
At the top of the ridge you can see the true summit of PT 13336. The terrain stays just as loose as before.
I summited PT 13336 at 6:10am
Here are some pictures of the way back to the saddle
Across the gully
And down the maroon scree
From here you can see the summit of PT 13020 and Buckskin Benchmark
It was a simple ridge hike, with just a few fun moves to the summit of PT 13020. Here’s the overall route
And some step by step pictures. To gain the upper ridge, I skirted the rock formations to the left, but still stayed as close to the ridge as possible.
Once on the upper ridge I followed it to the summit of PT 13020, only dipping down to the left once through a gap in the rocks to keep this class 2
I summited PT 13020 at 7:20am.
It was starting to rain, so I headed back down the ridge to the saddle.
Once at the saddle, I followed the class 1 trail back to Willow Pass
There was a large family of marmots at the Willow Lake/East Snowmass/Willow Pass Junction. As I approached, several jumped underneath the grass, not wanting to be photographed. I turned and headed southwest towards Willow Pass
And from Willow Pass I followed the trail back to the Maroon Lake Trailhead
I made it back to the trailhead at 10:45am, making this a 16.3 mile hike with 5815’ of elevation gain in 9 hours, 45 minutes
And, just because I have room for one more picture, can we all take a minute to appreciate jut how beautiful this area is?