Peak(s):  Pyramid Peak  -  14,018 feet
Date Posted:  09/16/2007
Date Climbed:   09/15/2007
Author:  ursidae
 Pyramid - NE Ridge  

With thanks to Grover for providing plenty of info and advise.

Set the alarm for 3am intending a hiking start at 4am.
Did not need the alarm due to the very loud thunderstorm
that broke out about the same time... Oh well, we instead
got an extra 3h of sleep and the latest start I've done on a
mountain climb in a couple of years.

With the weather no where near the forecast we were at this point
not aiming for the summit, we just figured we'd enjoy the wet morning
as much as we could and explore the area up to the amphitheater and
see what would happen.

With the wind howling we made slow progress up to the amphitheater,
added some clothing and decided that it looked like it might clear up
a little. The wind in the theatre was something else, and we could see
the clouds race by in the sky at a very high pace. Not promising...
Clouds were however at high altitude and did not seem to be bringing
any more rain. We decided it would be interesting to check out the
bowl in the amphitheater so we moved on.

A few hundred yards in to the amphitheater. Trail stays on the right
side and then curves around to the left. Well cairned.

Once on the other side we came to the conclusion that the weather
was less then conducive to a summit attempt but that we should go
up and tag the saddle for some views. We put on our helmets and
headed up.

The steep slope/gully up to the saddle is a mixture of loose sand and
rocks. This pic shows a portion of the upper half. Above the view of
the picture and to the right it turns in to short switchbacks in loose dirt.
(This pic was taken on the way down in the afternoon.)

Arriving on the saddle we note that there are several groups on the
face of Pyramid. We take a break, eat and scramble up the nearest
tower for some pictures. This shows the green rock and most of the
area where you climb the NE route. One climber is almost at the

Nourished and with spirits lifted my climbing partner decides to just
take a quick peek around the corner since we are there anyway. The
weather has been steadily improving (except the wind...). He meets
the first person to summit today who provides promising information
regarding weather outlook. His assessment was in agreement with ours
and we decided to move on.
The NE face was almost completely protected from the wind.

Following Bill's route to the green rock we move on up, once we exit the
green rock the search for cairns start. There are plenty of cairns and
whenever we followed something that looked sketchy we backtracked
and located something more appealing. Exposure a'plenty all the way...

The summit was surprisingly warm and calm, the wind was buffeting
hard on the side facing the Bells causing a very strong upwind which
left the summit protected. No mosquitoes either.

Going down made for much easier route finding as has been pointed
out previously in tr's. We followed a cairned route that led us to the
descending climbers left of the green rock to the exit ledges via a
short gully. It's loose but there was some fairly solid rock down the
center. Again, descent route finding was easier, bear in mind
though that down climbing is a more difficult then going up.

In the picture the climbers came across the left (in pic) ledges and
then down exiting right (in pic). You will see this gully on your right
just before the green rock on your way up.

The rest of the downclimb via the ledges to the saddle was fairly
straight forward.

Going down the steep slope from the saddle required some
concentration and was the least amusing part of the trip.

Once in the amphitheater we bounced across the large tippy rocks
feeling pretty good about the day. Picture shows the upper portion
of the theatre on the way out.

Pyramid was exciting and exhilarating, the day turned out to be a
blast instead of a bust.

Cautionary advisory; Despite opinions in some recent threads in
the forum Pyramid is by no means an easy hike, it's daunting and dangerous.
The climbs are steep and loose, if you fall you will fall far.
Climbers above you will have a hard time not kicking down rocks on you.
This mountain is not for the unprepared or the beginner hiker/climber.

When you pass the towers after the saddle and see what you are
heading towards it can easily be overwhelming. Definitely not
something I would recommend anyone to do alone even if it
happen to be Ed Viesturs. : )

06:45 Leave TH
07:20 Turnoff to Pyramid trail
07:32 Leave turnoff
08:20 Amphitheatere
09:17 Base of steep gully to saddle
10:15 Top of gully
10:38 Leave saddle
11:16 Green rock
11:56 Summit
12:27 Leave Summit
13:47 Saddle above steep gully
14:19 Bottom of gully
14:54 Amphitheatre exit
15:28 Crater Lake trail turnoff
15:32 Leave turnoff
15:59 TH

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

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