| Almost on Thunder Pyramid
Well we didn’t make the summit, but had a good weekend anyways.
With questionable weather for the weekend, Michelle and I headed into the Maroon Creek Valley hoping to climb and ski the west face of Thunder Pyramid. At best we would summit and ski, at worst spend a weekend in one of the most scenic regions of Colorado, completely free from the usual hoards of tourists.
Packing our bikes proved useful, as it cut about 5 miles of hiking off the approach. Unfortunately, the low elevation start had us biking through a nasty wintery mix of rain and snow.
Lucky for us, some forest service workers who were working on clearing the road for the upcoming opening offered to take our packs in their truck to the snowline.
After a nice ride, we were finally on skis.
With continuing precipitation Friday night, we were not very optimistic about the following day. Hoping to get some skiing in still, we headed to a couloir near Maroon Lake. With the lower elevation though, the old snow beneath the new snow was wet and unsupportable, so we bailed. Luckily some nice skiing was had on the apron through creamy powder.
With one day left, we were really hoping the weather would break offering a shot at Thunder Pyramid. We decided to hit the trail early, regardless of weather, and reassess conditions at the base of the climb.
Arriving early at Crater Lake the next day offered amazing views of the first sun rays on the Bells.
With about 4-5 new inches from the recent storm at the lake, and a clearing sky, we headed on to Thunder Pyramid, hoping the new snow would help freshen up the west facing route.
Unfortunately not being familiar with the terrain beyond Crater Lake, or the peak for that matter, we made some bad route finding choices, ultimately burning lots of time and energy. Not being sure of the exact summit from the lake, we started a climbing skin traverse towards what we thought was the summit. With some wet skins and snow clumping issues, we were wasting energy right from the start. Had we been more familiar with the area and knew the exact location of the summit, we would have stayed in the valley much longer getting much closer to the actual climb.
After much traversing, we found ourselves very close to the route, and started to boot up one of the lower chutes.
After booting the chute, we reached a bench, where route error number two occurred. Instead of heading right, we went left, thinking we were in direct line of the summit. This added much more traversing to reach the correct gully and line, but consisted of lots of fun climbing.
Finally in the correct line to the summit, we continued up. As we closed in on close to 8 hours of climbing, fatigue and frustration set in from making some poor route finding mistakes. With the blue skies fading, snow again starting to fall, and wind picking up, we eventually decided to admit defeat, and turned around. Always a tough decision to make when you are so close to the top, but safety is always a higher priority.
Lucky for us we still got a big descent in, with some nice sections of powder.
Back at Crater Lake, the skies opened back up, and the temperature soared. Wish we knew that would happen about an hour ago.
Very long descent, still lots of down to go.
Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed!