| Pyramid Peak Standard Route
I have been mesmerized by Pyramid Peak ever since I first laid eyes on it while vacationing in Aspen last fall. The ex-girlfriend I was with was much more impressed by the beauty of the bells, but they just don't excite me that much. It doesn't surprise me that she could relate to such bitchy mountains…beautiful from a distance, but plagued with paths leading you the wrong way, unstable ground, and general irritation…but I digress. Stephanie (14ers.com user name Slynn4_13run) picked me up at 3am in Denver and we arrived at the Maroon Lake Trailhead a little after 6am. It was too dark to see Pyramid as we drove up the road from Aspen, which was a bit of a disappointment. We were on the trail at 6:30am and maintained a fast pace. Steph let me lead so she wouldn't get too far ahead on the trail section. We got up to the amphitheater in an hour or so and crossed the big boulder field. That was probably the crappiest part of the day. Here is the first view we had of Pyramid just after sunrise.
After crossing a few boulder filled ditches we made it to the bottom of the steep 1,000 foot gulley leading up to the saddle.
Since climbing the gulley wasn't very fun we high tailed it up in 30 minutes and arrived at the 13,000 foot saddle at 8:30. We took a break and talked to some other climbers. The views of the Elks were incredible:
Here is a good view of the remaining route of Pyramid from the 13,000 foot saddle:
Some of the climbers we met on the saddle weren't too comfortable leading on class 4 terrain, so they decided to follow my lead to the summit. I led them down some wrong paths at times; but generally the route finding wasn't too challenging. After relaxing on the saddle we skirted along the ridge and crossed some rugged ledges before we made it to the green wall. Steph and I missed the notable ledge crossing because we were too low. We went around a lower ledge, climbed a loose gulley, and then scrambled up a 10 foot wall to get back on route. The others were smart enough not to follow me on this part. Once we were at the bottom of the green wall I stashed my coat, 2 extra bottles of Gatorade, and extra few pounds of beef jerky. Scrambling is a lot more fun when you're not hindered with the burden of a 25 pound pack. The green wall is just a lot of fun class 3 and 4 scrambling on solid rock:
It was fairly easy to find the exit cairns on the left after a couple hundred feet up the green wall. I would say the last 500 feet to the summit was the crux of the standard Pyramid route. This was where most of the class 4 climbing came in.
Generally you just try to find the easiest way up a series of 5 to 10 foot ledges. I personally didn't think the exposure was that bad at all…it just added a bit of excitement to everything. However, once or twice I had to turn around and find a better route because I got on some low class 5 rock. We made the summit at 10am and relaxed for a good half hour. A group of 5 of us descended together…we took our time because the weather was so nice and we were having such a good time. Once again, the down climb wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I just took my time and found good solid holds…I don't think I ever felt uncomfortable like I did while descending a few sections on Capitol. Here is a picture of Steph down climbing a class 4 section:
And here I am crossing the ledges:
Going back across the boulder field was a pain in the ass…but all in all Pyramid didn't seem to abuse my body on the descent like other mountains have. We arrived at the parking lot at 1:30 and went off to Aspen to down some much needed beer and ribs. Overall this mountain exceeded my expectations…Pyramid is a mountain I will definitely return to climb someday.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):