| Pyramid Peak, NE Ridge II, Class 4
Pyramid Peak (14,018’)
Northeast Ridge II, Class 4
Maroon Lake Trailhead, 6.0 miles, 4,450 feet
Do not be fooled by the relatively short RT distance of this peak. It is a difficult and potentially dangerous climb. Bring your helmet. This report augments the one found here on 14ers.com.
The first mile from Maroon Lake is flat and easy. The left hand turn off of Crater Lake trail onto Pyramid trail is non-descript and can be easily missed, especially if starting in the dark. There is a ~2-foot high cairn marking the turnoff to the left; although the trail is narrow and not readily visible. The trail up to the hanging basing below Pyramid Peak alternates between a dirt trail and rocks. Once you enter the upper basin the trail becomes predominantly rocks and scrambling prevails. Watch your step.
As you approach the base of Pyramid turn or bear left. As of last Saturday there was a cairn marked with a green stocking cap.
Your ascent up to the NE ridge is steep. We did not have any issues with rocks coming down from climbers above us, but a helmet from this point on is a good idea.
Once on the NE ridge your efforts are rewarded with spectacular views of The Bells, Snowmass, and Capitol.
It is from this point that Pyramid becomes a potentially dangerous mountain. Follow the route description provided on this website as it is accurate.
As you make your way left of the ridge you will reach the well-known “ledge”. It is not as ominous as I thought it would be after reading route descriptions and trip reports. It’s amazing what the mind will do when given time to ponder. Don’t get me wrong…falling off the ledge is not a good idea.
Access to the ledge requires a step (or hop) across a gap about 10-15 feet above the ground below. Other climbers on the trail referred to it as a “leap of faith”. For my 6’ 2” frame it was a long stretch or short hop, no big deal. If you are shorter in stature the challenge increases. The ledge is flat and offers good footing in dry conditions. There is only one short section in the middle that is narrow. Be sure to find solid hand holds.
Once past the ledge the route finding becomes more challenging. Make your way around to a vertical band of greenish rock. We followed this upwards towards the summit. A group of five mountain goats met us here. The alpha male escorted us all the way to the summit, hung out with us there, and led us back down to the ridge. Their interest in climbers has nothing to do with looks. They hang close and wait for you to urinate so they can lick up the salt.
The view from the summit is one of the best in Colorado (IMHO). I got a good look at the Bells and Snowmass, which I have yet to climb. Be careful on your descent for this is a loose mountain. The route finding is much easier on the way down. It pays to take your time.
Be safe and have a great climb.
"Getting to the top is optional, getting down is mandatory!"
-- Ed Viesturs
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