2.2 History and Geology of the Bells

How did this place get to be so spectacular?

History and Geology

Dating back 2 million years, the peaks are composed of soft and crumbly rock called mudstone which is a combination of metamorphic and sedimentary rock.


The crystal clear lake that rests at the base of the peaks, was formed by glaciers and later dammed by a rock landslide.


The Bells, both tower above 14,000 feet. Maroon Peak is the 27th highest peak in Colorado standing at 14,163 feet and North Maroon Peak is the 50th highest peak in Colorado at 14,029 feet high.


1890 marks the first climbing ascent of the Bells. Since then, many have succeeded and many have not. If you plan on climbing, make sure you Know Before You Go. This mountain range is deadly. Technical climbing experience is necessary prior to attempting to climb any of the 14,000 foot peaks in the area.


In 1965, eight lives were lost while attempting to summit the Bells on five different occasions. These events gave rise to the nickname 'The Deadly Bells'.


In 2017, six lives were lost in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness on Capitol Peak and associated hikes in the area.


Local's Tip: This rock is seriously dangerous and if you are attempting to climb, please Know Before You Go, and ask yourself, are you prepared for a technical climb in the back country without cell service?