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 Peak(s):  Pyramid Peak  -  14,018 feet
 Post Date:  05/08/2011 Modified: 05/09/2011
 Date Climbed:   05/05/2011
 Posted By:  mtnbikerskierchick

 TR: Pyramid Peak- Landry Line (5 May 2011) - my second to last fourteener!   

I've been antsy since April 1st. Pyramid Peak was the road block in my five year goal of skiing all of Colorado's fourteeners. One of the most intimidating of the fourteeners, it is the only one I've had to attempt more than twice, and I was hoping that the third time was the charm. But April never brought the window I was looking for. Winter simply wouldn't leave. Pow day was followed after pow day. Spring wasn't ready to arrive and I was left wondering if the window would shut before it ever opened. I kept a constant eye on the weather, and repeatedly watched high pressure after high pressure forecasted in the long term crumble into a winter storm warning. I'll admit it, I was stressed, and even grumpy at times. The pressure of getting my last two fourteeners done was weighing on me.

Photo courtesy of Caleb Wray

So, when the weather window looked like it was going to open, I called Jordan White (jcwhite) - our faithful Aspen-valley friend. He provided me with the necessary beta regarding the Maroon Lake road as well as his opinion on the local snowpack. We rounded up a crew- Matt Kamper (pioletski), Caleb Wray (Roanmtnman), and Frank (gb) - an excellent mix of strong climbers and strong skiers. And my thoughts were consumed for days about skiing this peak. Am I ready? Because of repeated storm systems, I've had so few ski mountaineering days this year.... I can count the times I've boot packed this season on one hand and my crampons have been used exactly twice.

On Tuesday, we decided Thursday would be the day. And of course, my mind would not stop racing. I woke up at 3 am on Tuesday night in a cold sweat and was unable to sleep the rest of the night, much to my disappointment. I knew I needed the sleep- I did not want to repeat my first Pyramid attempt where I was forced to turn around because I was falling asleep while climbing. That's why I nearly cried when Frank and I packed up the car at 6 pm on Wednesday, knowing it would take over four hours to get to Aspen and we had a 1:00 wake up time. Do the math for that one and you'll find that there are less than 3 hours of time built in for "sleep". But, who can really sleep the night before a line like this. "I don't know if I can do this on three hours of sleep in two nights," I said to Frank. "But, you have to." "Okay." I knew he was right.

Of course, everything took longer than it should have and we didn't even make it to Aspen. We pulled over somewhere on the road west of Carbondale and "slept" for a couple of hours there before waking up at a time that most people call night, but we were calling it morning. We met up with Jordan, Caleb, and Matt at Aspen Highlands and made our way to the trailhead.

Snowmobiling on a road in the dark is one thing. But, snowmobiling for a mile and a half on pavement with plowed banks beside you is not only frustrating, but silly. Overheating was an issue and we were thankful when we reached unplowed road.

We left our snowmobiles a little bit before 4 am at Maroon Lake and made our way toward the couloir that led to the northern amphitheater on Pyramid. The skies were clear and it was cold. "You're moving fast," Jordan commented. "Well yeah, we gotta DO this thing!" I knew today was going to be the day. Three hours of sleep for the last two nights didn't matter anymore. I'd found some strength deep inside that I didn't know I had, and it was carrying me through this. It was my dream to ski this and I was living it. I was dreaming and living at the same time.

First light hit on our way up the couloir, as we were transitioning from skinning to boot packing.


Booting was frustrating up the northern couloir. The snow pack had not yet transitioned to spring. It was still winter there. The first sunlight that pierced the north face of Pyramid was alarming.

Photo courtesy of Jordan White

And we cruised through the amphitheater. We found better snow on the northwest face and made good time gaining the northeast ridge. Frank and I reaching the saddle of the north east ridge.

Photo courtesy of Jordan White

The saddle offers the first view of the Landry line itself. Last year, I stood on this saddle in mid-May but was forced to turn around due to uncooperative weather. I was hoping it would look less intimidating this time around. But that was not the case.




At the saddle, we sadly said our goodbye's to Caleb. Today was simply not his day, and he opted to turn around. But, he kindly hankered down for a bit and took some great pictures. Thank you Caleb!

Jordan, leading the way.



We were only 1000 feet from the summit, but we still had a long ways to go. First, the knife edge.





Photo courtesy of Jordan White



Photo courtesy of Caleb Wray



Photo courtesy of Caleb Wray

The knife edge almost broke me. The exposure to the northwest (1000 foot cliff) was unnerving. I have the boys to thank for help keeping me level headed. I was glad when we paused for a short break before attacking the east face itself.

Photo courtesy of Jordan White

Matt.


Jordan and I making our way to the face.


Though steeper, I was much more comfortable on the east face. Maybe it's the fact that I have only one way to fall down instead of two ;)


Making our way to the crux of the route. The rock band was laden with crumbly stones and sugary snow.

Photo courtesy of Jordan White


Frank and I- happy to be together on the summit of the peak that is the reason we met. Long story short, Frank and I met in 2006 shortly after he skied Pyramid for the first time. I was looking for partners to help me ski the fourteeners and his name caught my attention after his Crested Butte crew made the third known full descent of the Landry line- Chris Landry skied this line in 1978, not to be repeated again (at least, that we know) until Chris Davenport and his crew descended it in 2006.


Jordan, with a different view of the Bells behind.


Frank, ready to ski!


And he led the way for us.



Photo courtesy of Jordan White


Looking down.


Matt.

Photo courtesy of Jordan White



Frank.

Photo courtesy of Jordan White


Photo courtesy of Jordan White


Photo courtesy of Jordan White


Jordan.








Me.

Photo courtesy of Jordan White



Photo courtesy of Jordan White






I couldn't be happier as we approached the bottom of the 4300'+ line.

Photo courtesy of Jordan White

We sat there at the bottom of the East Maroon creek valley floor, relaxing, and admiring the line from below, in awe of what just happened. The Landry Line is in Davenport's book the Fifty Classic Descents of North America for a reason. It IS a classic line. A 4000+ foot sustained steep line like this is nearly unheard of in Colorado. But, here the Landry Line sits in all it's perfection. I would gladly ski it again.


Our line.


Our tracks.


While I relished in the joy of skiing such a fantastic line, my thoughts turned back to my over-arching fourteeners goal. Pyramid was my second to last fourteener I had left to ski, and I had just skied it. In skiing it, I had overcome a hurdle that had been causing me far to much anxiety for the last year. The pressure, the stress - it all magically disappeared in this moment. I was elated. Yet I was sad that this magic moment was now over. Was it all a dream? It sure felt like one. We couldn't have had a more perfect day.

The four of us- Jordan, Frank, me, and Matt. I cannot thank these boys enough!


While I wanted to sit and bask in the sun below the best line I have ever skied, magic moments, like all things, have to come to an end. Smiling, we packed our things, and made our way down the East Maroon Creek valley. We were already making plans for what we were going to ski next.


For a more complete TR with a few more pics, please check out my blog

 


  • Comments or Questions
pioletski


Yeah Brittany!     2011-05-08 20:32:30
Congratulations on doing this line, on doing all you do, and on being you! I am SO happy to have been part of this incredible day.


Doctor No


Jesus.     2011-05-08 20:43:27
Nice work!


Johnson


Hard core!     2011-06-02 08:57:39
Dude!.....


Shogun


Uhhh...     2011-05-08 20:57:40
...holyshit! Incredible! Very nice work! L-I-V-I-N!


gb


pioletski     2011-05-08 21:08:26
Nice work skiing Maroon as well. Elks= almost done!


BillMiddlebrook


Such a great accomplishment     2011-05-08 21:21:02
Congrats to all involved! A big line indeed and it's nice to see success and smiles all around. Way to go. Most people don't realize the skill required to tackle a ski line like this; Obviously a no-fall line where a slip could be deadly.

BTW, Brittany, if you remove the double quotes from within your URL links and FONT size codes, they should work properly. Great report!


CRAIGO


WOW!!     2011-05-09 09:23:16
Incredible!


mw1000


Congrats!     2011-05-09 09:34:12
Nice flippin work! I spoke to Chris about this line. He was just as shaken on the knife edge as you were! So I think it is a normal feeling! He even had a little movement on the east face prior to the summit that didn't look fun! So Nice work I say!


otherbrotherdarryl

WOW     2011-05-09 09:35:17


lodgling


Strong work!     2011-05-09 09:50:29
Maybe this link work's better for mtsb's blog:

(url)http://14erskiers.com/brittanysblog/(url)

Awesome shots of the exposure while skiing.


Dancesatmoonrise


Frightening     2011-05-09 09:57:22
Looking at you guys climbing the knife edge and tackling this line in late-winter-like conditions ... compells thoughts of just finishing up and moving on to something safer like maybe golf. (Well, maybe not, but damn.) The stress of waiting out weather and not sleeping the night before a serious route ... Elequent expression of emotions so ubiquitous among alpinists.

Matt, you're really getting after it this spring. Very impressive. How many more to go?

All of you, nice work on an historic line. Thanks so much for posting this landmark TR.


IHikeLikeAGirl


OMG!     2011-05-09 10:05:46
Seeing the pics of you guys crossing that ridge...holy $#@%! Happen to know the slope angle? Congratulations to you all on such a huge feat, but again, holy $#@%!


SchralpTheGnar


congratulations     2011-05-09 10:28:10
That's a great team you have, you're blessed to have such great partners.

This is truly inspirational, I love showing your TR's to my daughter who is just getting going skiigg at 6 right now.

Pikes is last right?

Thanks.


Carl


Yes!!     2011-05-09 14:36:22
Congrats Brittany and crew! Great TR. I read it to a captivated audience as we were driving back from skiing some of the Wilson group yesterday, although Ben kept taking my phone to look at the pics. Glad it came together for you.


benners


So stoked     2011-05-09 12:45:30
for you Brittany, and crew. Getting over the mental demons and just skiing the line must have felt great. When's the Pikes finisher?


Artvandalay


Neato!     2011-05-09 13:19:43
I really enjoyed this TR. Fantastic story to read. Very Impressive.


kushrocks


Damn!!!     2011-05-09 15:39:31
WOW thats incredible!!!


mtnbikerskierchick


Video     2011-05-09 20:35:23
Thanks for all the kind words!

I just added Frank's helmet cam footage to the blog entry. It's a little washed out, and the lower he went, the more condensation he got. I'll be curious to know if Matt and Jordan's gopros did the same thing.


RoanMtnMan


Well played.     2011-05-09 17:04:16
You guys did great up there. Sad the lack of sleep caught up with me, but glad you guys were able to push through and to share it with ya. A really great crew and what a day! I doubt the conditions have ever been better for that decent.


BostonBD


Awe inspiring!     2011-05-09 20:26:51
That was a legendary adventure. Thanks for sharing and congratulations. Premium report and photos.


PKelley


Super     2011-05-09 22:35:07
Dooper!


Furthermore


Outstanding!     2011-05-09 22:44:21
Thanks for sharing.


kling


Excellent Work!     2011-05-10 10:14:48
The anxiety, the apprehension, the frustration...overcome and overwith! well done.


mtgirl


Quote     2011-05-10 12:14:00
After reading your trip report, it reminded me of one of my favorite quotes......”Some people dream of worthy accomplishment, while others stay awake and do them”. Congrats Brittany on a great accomplishment !!


pioletski


Thanks y'all     2011-05-10 14:01:24
and congratulations again to Brittany. Here's my video of the descent - it cuts off early because I was too excited to remember to push the button on my camera!



Presto


Amazing ..     2011-05-10 14:10:58
What a special experience for you all! Thanks for sharing. Happy trails!


gb


gopro overexposure     2011-05-10 18:01:24
Matt, your video looks a bit overexposed as well. Over on TGR I was told that new firmware solves the problem. FYI.

Such a sweet day! And I'm still waiting to see a Maroon TR!


mtnbikerskierchick


Great vid Matt!     2011-05-10 18:17:59
Love your vid Matt!

Thanks all for so many kind words. But, really, I owe it all to my fantastic and strong partners! I couldn't have done it without them!

Yes, Pikes Peak is last, hoping to get it this weekend!


kimo

I don't know much...     2011-05-10 23:25:40
...about skiing big mountains but you've made it pretty apparent that the Landry Line is a tremendous accomplishment. This is a great TR - it's soul-inspiring. Congratulations to you and everyone on the team for this feat and the fantastic vicarious adventure that you've given us to enjoy in words, photos, and video. I think my heart skipped a beat. And congratulations, in advance, for skiing all of the 14ers. Good luck on Pikes.


jf32


Awesome     2011-05-11 00:03:34
I'm always super impressed by you crazy (said in the most respectful/in awe manner possible) of what you skiers accomplish.

Great job!


d_baker


good stuff     2011-05-11 10:26:53
I'm not a skier either, but I generally like to look at the TR's you ski mountaineers put up. Good stuff, and it inspires me nonetheless.
Congratulations on tackling your inner demon/fears and getting this one skied!
Good luck on Pikes! I hope you'll have good conditions for what should be a grand finish!


LynnKH


Way to rock it!     2011-05-11 10:28:05
Thanks for being an inspiration! Good luck on Pikes.



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