Bells Traverse

This Class 5 route is one of the most technical traverses in Colorado.

Alpine Climbing Severe

Distance
16 km
Ascent
1.6 km
Descent
1.6 km
Low Point
2.9 km
High Point
4.3 km
Gradient
38˚
VIEW ON MAP
Bells Traverse Map

Description

The Class 5 Bells Traverse is renowned as one of the most technical and demanding mountaineering challenges on Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks. The route is extremely technical and arduous, but this only makes the linkup between the Maroon Bells that much more attractive to Colorado's diehard mountaineers.

This linkup ascends Maroon Peak via its standard route, traverses the ridge from Maroon Peak to North Maroon Peak, then descends via the standard route on North Maroon. Read more about the Maroon Peak climb here, and North Maroon here.

After the demanding climb to the top of Maroon Peak, you’ll be faced by the half-mile rocky ridge traverse that could take a considerable amount of time, depending on your climbing competency. To complete the traverse, you’ll have to negotiate a series of ledges, cliff bands (both up and down), and dihedrals.

Some of the cliffs on the traverse do measure as much as 40 feet high—no small feat. Some climbers opt to pack ropes and trad gear to protect the routes, but climbing with ropes will add considerable car-to-car time, so be sure to plan accordingly.

The vast majority of the climbing on the Bells Traverse is Class 3 and 4 terrain, but several of the cliffs will require Class 5 moves. If you have any doubt that you can complete low to mid Class 5 climbs at almost 14,000 feet in elevation, with a fully loaded pack, and after many hours already spent climbing Maroon Peak, you should not attempt this traverse. The exposure on this traverse is extreme, and one missed step or missed handhold could easily spell death.

Sources: https://www.14ers.com/route.php?route=nmar4&peak=Maroon+Bells+and+Pyramid+Peak

Difficulty

Severe

Steep, sustained and serious terrain on rock/ice. Routes will be long, exposed and possibly committing. D, D+

Extreme Exposure

4 out of 4

The majority of the route is "no fall" terrain.

Remoteness

4 out of 4

In the high mountains or remote conditions, all individuals must be completely autonomous in every situation.

Best time to visit

July, August, September

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area