The Maroon Bells

The Maroon Bells are two peaks in the Elk Mountains, Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak, separated by one-third of a mile.  The mountains are on the border between Pitkin County and Gunnison County, Colorado, United States, about 12 miles (19 km) southwest of Aspen. Both peaks are fourteeners.

Unlike other mountains in the Rockies that are composed of granite and limestone, the Bells are composed of metamorphic sedimentary mudstone that has hardened into rock over millions of years. Mudstone is weak and fractures readily, giving rise to dangerously loose rock along almost any route. A US Forest Service sign on the access trail warns would-be climbers of "downsloping, loose, rotten and unstable" rock that "kills without warning". The mudstone is also responsible for the Bells' distinctive maroon color. The Bells got their "deadly" reputation in 1965 when eight people died in five separate accidents.