- Mar 16, 2015 at 3:13 pm #1326905AnonymousInactive
South Ridge Route.
Reading up for potential summer summer. A trip report really emphasized that maroon bells rock was some of the most traitorous rock they had ever encountered. They explained that seemingly well placed shale/slate rocks would crumble at bad times and possibly accelerate you in the wrong direction.
The routes look like a fun class 3. I'm used to granite scree fields, and solid red rock. haven't tried them combined. Thought I'd ping here, for folks experience with maroon bells. Is the "rotten" rock worth emphasizing in consideration compared to other 14ers? How's it compare to "the trough" on Long's peak?
Notes: class 3 I won't be taking any metal anchoring systems. Probably just a couple large slings and some static rope for any "Oh crap" moments.Apr 2, 2015 at 12:05 am #2188321Conner RoperSpectator
Dear Craig… The word "treacherous" perfectly describes the Bells. It is hard to convey through photos, just how dominating the Maroon Bells are on the surrounding landscape. I grew up in Basalt and it seems like every year, there is someone who is getting rescued or worse from the tops of these peaks. Or worse… from the bottoms. This is not meant to discourage…. It is merely out of respect and honesty that I extend these words of caution. Do not venture around the Roaring fork Valley unless you have experience in the chossy mountains.
The rock is constantly shifting and the wind seemingly endless. Words of advice… Buy a good topo map.( You can get them at Ute Mountaineer, before heading out.) Study photos that people have posting to these forums and others. Pay attention to the routes, this is where people end up in trouble.
If you are going to go through the trouble of bringing a rope, make sure that it is a thick, dynamic one. Static ropes increase the potential for failure of system and injury to all involved.
Again, I do not pretend to know your skill level, I only hope to convey the seriousness of these mountains. Please PM if you would like more "on the ground" planning details, and may your travels be safe. -ConnerMay 15, 2015 at 10:42 am #2199748AnonymousInactive
Conner, thanks for your response.Dec 5, 2017 at 7:47 pm #3505708Matt ThyerBPL Member
@feetforbrainsLocale: Pacific North West
Agree, I grew up on the far side of the Bells and summited them several times. The only peak in the range that is worse than the Bells is Capital, a good shake will bring that haystack down on anyone unlucky enough to climb it.
My advice for a Bell attempt are as follows:
1) Be ready to bail: You don’t want to find yourself in over your head because then it’s too late. Look at the “trail” and evaluate your route and foot placement in small increments. If it looks unstable or dangerous … IT IS!
2) Leave early: most people leave for a summit well before dawn. You’ll want to be Buckskin Pass at sunrise because you’ll need to summit Sleeping Sexton first. Then dip down and make your way along the spine to the North Bell. If you attempt the south, keep in mind that you have to re-summit the North Bell and Sleeping Sexton before you can make your way down either side of Buckskin Pass. There are no good descents after you leave the pass, don’t even try. Also, bring a headlamp.
3) Carry more water than you think you’ll need: Often it’s easy to find a tarn or pond above treeline on most 14er climbs. Not so here, you’re going to get thirsty so come ready for that.
4) Bring a GOOD friend: I tried this alone back in the early 90’s and wound up having to talk myself back down from the summit. My advice, don’t do it alone. If you get spooked it’s much harder to get down.Dec 5, 2017 at 8:27 pm #3505715Ben CBPL Member
On the upside, the Bells are stunning.Dec 6, 2017 at 1:27 am #3505759Lester MooreBPL Member
@satoriLocale: Olympic Peninsula, WA
If you are new to choosy and rotten rock, then being extra conservative is prudent. Undertaking a shorter and less committing training climb or two on similar rock is also prudent. Rotten rock is a whole different animal than loose rock, such as you’ll find in parts of the Trough on Longs. Loose rock for the most part is more obvious – choosy rock is often not obvious until it fails, even large, seemingly solid blocks. A good way to climb it is to assume that any rock is suspect and that the mountain is rigged with booby traps – don’t trust anything without testing it if its failure would pose a risk.
That said, after climbing the North and South Bell via Bell Cord couloir and descending the same route, I found the rock quality to not be as bad as many reports said, nor was it significantly worse than other choosy peaks (other routes may vary). That said, the Bells certainly were loose, rotten and requiring caution – but as mentioned above, great views…
South Bell view from the traverse to the North Bell.Dec 6, 2017 at 9:05 am #3505833Roger CaffinModerator
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
I suspect the word you want is ‘chossy’, not ‘choosy’.
Nice pic though, despite the mudstone.
CheersDec 6, 2017 at 6:16 pm #3505894Lester MooreBPL Member
@satoriLocale: Olympic Peninsula, WA
Yes, spell check often provides chossy results, even if you’re choosy with your word selections :-)
Another thing to note about chossy rock – for the most part it’s much less dangerous when covered with snow. Of course, snow has its own hazards and requires specific skills, especially in deep, narrow gullies with much loose rock above. But a consolidated snowpack provides good protection from chossy rock underfoot.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.