Peaks Climbed: Pyramid (6/25), Maroon Peak (6/26)
Routes: Pyramid - NE Ridge Ascent, some crazy West face gulley Descent
Maroon Peak - Bell Cord Ascent and Descent
Climbers: Yours Truly, Luke (coolhandluke)
Funness (scale 1-10): 10+
Luke and I set out for Aspen after an agonizing day of waiting to get off work on Friday and arrived at a very reasonable time of 12 am at the Pyramid TH where we camped . We set out the next morning with Pyramid in our sights.
Ascending the couloir to the NE ridge
The east face of Pyramid still has a generous amount of snow on it with rock bands interspersed which made for some really enjoyable and interesting alpineering!
At one point around the above picture, we crossed a 9" wide snow plank which had death on either sides of it. Unfortunately, neither one of us took a photo because we were both focused and forgot to I guess, but it was pretty awesome.
View from the ridge towards the summit
A look back at what we came up (notice the large cornice which we walked next to)
Route we took to gain the ridge
Upon summiting, we both decided to descend a different way. We were a little concerned that all the snow we had traversed earlier was being heavily violated by the sun turning it into one large wet slide risk.
View from Maroon of our approximate descent
The initial part was not too bad but that would change
May not look like it, but we definitely encountered some low class 5 areas
It took us quite a while to get back to our campsite especially due to the fact that our genius descent route spit us out way above Crater Lake, but we did eventually make it and were able to move our campsite higher up towards Crater Lake so that we could get an early jump on the Bell Cord the next day. (*NOTE*: Start the Bell Cord early, it gets sunshine the instant the sun rises.)
We left the next morning at 4 am and were on the Cord soon after.
View of the Cord (you are on snow from about 10,800 to 13,800)
The following image shows our ascent route in red. From the bottom of the cord we could not see where this red route was going to take us so naturally, we did it anyways (I may have also claimed it was a good way to go because I thought I saw it the previous day, but thats just hearsay). Turns out there was a 40' tall waterfall, but we were able to circumnavigate it by climbing up a class 4 rock face on its side. The blue route is how we came down and is the much safer and easier option than the so called "red route".
Red = ascent, Blue = descent
There are some very large crevasses and voids in areas of the cord so be careful! It was almost glacier-like in areas. It is also quite runneled out and we followed some of the runnels up but eventually got out. (Side Note: These runnels make ideal channels for rockfall and getting clocked in the head.)
View of the traverse to North
We had made plans to possibly do the traverse but opted out partially due to the fact that some guys we ran into at the parking lot at 11 pm on Friday night apparently had a mini epic and said it was really difficult to get off North. With the heavy amount of sun, we knew that rockfall could be a major issue on the Cord so unfortunately, we made the right decision and didn't do the traverse. Oh well, I SHALL RETURN! (We actually had 2 fairly large ice chunks traveling quite fast fly by us on the descent. )
Overall, this climb was an amazing introduction to the Elks for me (Luke had done Castle and Conundrum 2 weeks before). I knew beforehand that the Elks were going to be great, but damn, its so beautiful up there and the mountains are simply incredible. Can't wait to be back already!