Peak(s):  Pyramid Peak  -  14,018 feet
Post Date:  08/11/2007
Modified:  08/13/2007
Date Climbed:   08/11/2007
Posted By:  Rockymtnhigh69


 Pyramid NE Ridge (standard)  

After months of really wanting to give Pyramid Peak a go, I finally got my chance this weekend. I made plans to climb the peak with Jordan and Dan from the 14ers site. We were all planning to meet at the Maroon Lake TH at 330 am. I headed down to Aspen excited but also nervous about the daunting Pyramid Peak.. I headed up Maroon Creek Rd, and there she was already staring me down. I have to be honest, I was always in awe of Pyramid. To me, it looked more menacing than the Bells, even before I climbed N. Maroon.
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As I pulled into the overnight lot, I saw a familiar face from the site. It was "YIKES" Jim from Salida. We agreed that he and his friend Gary would join us for Pyramid the next morning. As we were talking we had heard that a tragedy had occurred on Maroon Peak and someone had died on Friday.. This only added to my fear of the Bells group. With Pyramid's silhouette staring me down in the star lit night, I was letting it bother me too much so I went to sleep in my Jeep in the overnight lot..

Soon, it was 300 am and I needed to get up. We gathered our gear and headed to the TH to meet Jordan and Dan Weidrich from Houston.. We were having difficulty finding them, we waited a bit and then Gary and Jim (YIKES) were saying we should go. I agreed. We headed up Buckskin Gulch pretty quickly and found ourselves at the moraine in no time.. At night, our headlamps shining bright found a huge cairn heading up to the left before Crater Lake.. There it was.. The steep trail heading up to my meeting with one bad mo-fo.. Pyramid Peak.. The trail up to the amphitheatre is pretty steep and climbs very quickly.. CFI has done a great job.. Before I knew it, I came around a bend, and there was the beast, staring me right in the face.. As Roach states, It will shoot fear into any soul who dares approach.

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The amphitheatre is another moraine and aquifer similar to the one over by North Maroon. It is a long slog of boulder hopping but there are abundant cairns. We took our time but found the trail heading up the left side of the mountain..

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This trail is your typical loose Elk type rock and tedious and slow going.. We climbed to the top of it and reached the saddle at about 13,000 feet. We could see some parties ahead of us.. They were climbing the famous green rock.. I looked at the summit from this perspective and I was quickly humbled.. It looked extremely steep and still a long way away..

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We rested for a few at the saddle and continued on.. Before I knew it, we were at the famous ledges. I didn't find it all that bad.. Falling there would not be good however.. I was still wondering were all the class 4 and exposure that everyone talks about was.. We got to the green rock and started up.. Jim (Yikes) is a technical climber and Gary has climbed well over 100 of the highest peaks in Colorado.. I had very good company and they were both very experienced and had good route finding skills which are essential on this peak. The green rock was great.. Very fun scrambling and mostly class 3.. We exited the green rock ¾ of the way up..

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Here is where you find some real class 4 moves and exposure.. I was thinking, I don't know whether I agree with Roach that the last 1,000 feet are all fatal drops.. However, when your nearing the top, you're following the cairns which are strewn all over. There are many ways to the summit after the green rock section. Route finding is paramount to avoid getting in over your head.. I climbed "climbers right" behind Gary and then, is when I realized what Roach was talking about.. You need to make a class 3 move and 3 feet to your right was a 1500 ft drop into oblivion.
Gary so graciously reminded me that a slip here and your toast.. I told Gary I didn't want to talk about a slip or his toast for that matter..

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After lots of class 3 and a couple of class 4 moves, I was at the summit. It was spectacular..

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As I approached, I hear "Vince"! It is non other than Jordan White (JCWHITE) and his friends.. I was glad to have seen him because we planned to climb together.. We talked about how Chris Davenport skied this mountain at a near 60 degree pitch.. INSANE! That face looked vertical! How could anyone ski that?!? After a few moments, a see a guy coming up from the NW ridge (much harder and exposed than the standard route) it was Brian (Lord Helmut). A 14ers.com reunion of sorts. Brian stated that the NW ridge was primitive and that some of the exposure was intense.. Kiefer (Skaasgard) wanted me to climb that with him a few weeks ago!
No thanks Kiefer!! We all talked and enjoyed the summit..

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My best TM tribute pose..

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YIKES liking the view of the Bells


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While signing the register, I saw Caroline (USAKELLER) in there and just below her, Aron Ralston who climbed it a couple of days ago.

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Brian (Lord Helmut) enjoying the exposure!

The weather was great! Another gentleman arrived and it was Dan Weidrich from Texas who flew up to climb Pyramid! We were happy to see him as we never saw him at the TH in the morning. We talked and then headed down.. Going down is tedious and is very slow..
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The rocks like the Bells are very loose, maybe not as loose, but loose. The class 4 rocks needed to be climbed down facing in.. Thank god I only encountered that twice.. That bugged me a bit.. We chatted about different mountains around the world on the way down. A good time was had by all.. I was glad to be down.. Pyramid is a demanding peak and needs to be respected.. It was a long hard day, but one that I will remember forever.

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Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions
Yikes


Bad pic
02/05/2011 00:22
Good grief, that is one bad picture of me. Looks like I am sucking on a mouthful of Lemonheads.

The trip was a lot of fun. Didn't seem like Pyramid had as much exposure as I was expecting (most of the back of the mountain is just a series of 3-5 foot wide ledges). The looseness didn't seem too bad on the way up, but slowed me down a bit on the way down (didn't want to kick anything down on the 4 hikers below). The route looks very improbable when viewed from the saddle, but the route is fairly straightforward. Seems like the only real issue would be coming down in a rainstorm (those rocks would be nasty if slick with rain).

Didn't have any problems sleeping on the ground in the overnight lot. The hosts didn't mind and no rangers showed up (although I was expecting one to shake me out of my slumber all night long).


USAKeller


Nice job!!
11/30/2010 17:28
Vince,
Nice report! I'm so glad you were able to summit. I still feel bad about not being able to go with you though. I do agree with you that the rock on Pyramid is less "loose" that what you see on the Bells. We should go back and try that NW ridge route.

I took the same summit shot that lordhelmut did- some good exposure down that way!


I can't wait for Capitol next weekend!!


White Light


Congrats!
11/30/2010 17:28
Wow, looks like a great climb. This is one I'm definately working towards. Awesome summit shots, congrats!


lordhelmut


Vince
08/13/2007 07:11
Had a great time hiking with you guys and it was good to finally fornally meet you in person. Pyramid is a phenomenal mountain, congratulations, that was quite the downclimb.



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