Peak(s):  Pyramid Peak  -  14,018 feet
Date Posted:  09/14/2010
Date Climbed:   09/12/2010
Author:  emcee smith

 #57 and a great place to view the journey  

Pyramid Peak

Arguably this could be a continuation of my Capitol trip report, as we attempted Pyramid the next morning, and we didn't have much time to sleep or recharge before starting.

So now I had two left, Pyramid and Pikes. My hiking partner Dave (CarpeDM) agreed to stick around and attempt Pyramid with me as a repeat, and I was grateful to have someone along who had been up there before.

Just a bit more than a year ago, I summited N. Maroon (#35 on my list) with Dave and a few other guys. Although I had already been in Chicago Basin, I felt that this was my first true hard peak. On the way back, I was so excited that I wanted to sit in the parking lot talking to other hikers and be able to say, "Yeah, we just came off North Maroon". It was the first time that finishing the 14ers seemed within my reach. Flash forward a year and Pyramid would by attempting my #57.

With another great weather day forecasted, we slept in a bit and didn't get started up the trail until just before 7am. Gotta love September weather, aside from the forced start on Culebra, this was my only non-headlamp hike of the year. We made our way up the Crater Lake trail, hit the turnoff and worked our way up the slope. It was nice to have a gentle trail to ease the sore spots back for the day.

Once across the amphitheater, we worked our way up the steep gully. It was incredibly steep and loose, and not very fun, but we had secret weapons. Microspikes. On the way up, not really necessary, but on the way down, like hitting the easy button.

Dave did run into a problem on the way up. I don't know if this guy was a CarpeDM fan or foe, but I think they had a few words before Dave could pass, and he followed us up to the saddle.

Once at the saddle, we did all of the normal transition stuff and headed up the path. Just above the second saddle, it seems that you can go right and high or left and low. We went right and high, probably just after this photo

Now with no photos to protect the innocent, I froze a bit when we came to the step across or the leap of faith. I walked in close to the right side, Dave came up behind me and just hopped across. I stood there for about 1 minute gathering my courage before I did it. A minute doesn't seem like a long time, but trust me it was for me. (more on this later)

Around the corner from the cliff traverse, which was no problem for me, we got our first look at the green wall. This shot shows our route up in blue, our route down in green, and a climber circled that popped over and came down this gully. He didn't like it.

And a closer view of that gully

Here is that climber working down around the corner to the cliff traverse and step across. Pretty much just standard Maroonish ledges, and not too difficult.

Which Dave is proving the difficulty by showing the path is wide enough (in spots) to lie down.

Around the corner, we worked our way onto the green gully. I had heard to stay right (thanks Paul) and began to head up. Doubt started creeping into my mind about coming down this thing. There was a lot of loose gravel on the rock and I was worried that my feet would slip.

Once I got to a solid perch, Dave came up from below. He didn't seem worried at all.

Eventually, we worked our way off to the left of the green section. I noticed three cairned exits, and took the middle one. Sorry that I don't have any photos of the exit from the gully. I was uncomfortable with getting my camera out (as opposed to Capitol where I pulled it out every other step)

Once on the other side of the gully, we worked our way up the ridge area or to climbers left on the way up. Soon we hit a place that was pretty level, with a bit of a headwall to go up and over. I watched a group come down and then reversed their path. Now I am above the spot looking down at the group. I have circled a handhold that was key to getting down ( I don't know if I used it going up)

Dave quickly came up from below. An interesting thing about this headwall area is that the flat area goes around to the left and then cliffs out. It looks like most everyone works over in that direction, as did Dave. At this photo, I suggested he turn around and look at the exposre. The photo doesn't do it justice, and this may have been the one spot that gave Dave pause.

After this, Dave climbed the headwall area the same spot I did, then we worked our way back and forth up the ridge. Mostly the area had trail, with relatively easy moves up the rock bands and a lot of back and forth. A few places had 5-10 foot pitches up cracks, chimneys and what not that was not too difficult and easier than the headwall area from below.

And then we pop out on the true summit ridge, probably almost as far right as possible, and had a nice walk up the last few hundred feet of horizontal.

Dave said the reason he wanted to repeat is that his previous shot of the summit diving board rock had his feet and the exposure cut off. We both had to step out there for the money shot.

You can see to the left of Dave, one of the other climbers taking the direct route down.

And after relaxing a bit on the summit, we headed down. Again, I was nervous about coming down Pyramid. And my nervousness results in impatience, so I was happy to be heading down.

The trail down from the summit to the headwall area was uneventful, just normal Maroon type loose rock, dirt, and ledges to deal with. Here is Dave above the headwall, getting ready to come down the chimney area. The key handhold is circled and allowed my 5'10" frame to get all the way down to the flat area below the headwall. I was nervous about this spot, but it turned out to be very easy.

Below the headwall, we headed down a bit on loose dirt and then wound our way back and forth across pretty solid rock for a bit before heading over into the green gully

Here we are back in the green gully. I was also worried about coming down this, but we stuck to the left side (coming down) and it wasn't too bad. I mostly faced out during the downclimb. Dave took a slightly more center route, and you can see a couple of "climbers" above us at approximately one of the exit traverses out of the gully and back to the ridge.

With sticking left, we landed on a little ledge on a rib, and it looked like an easier way down versus heading right for the last segment of the green gully. I have repeated photo #3, showing the green route on the way down. The only problem is that it looked like an OK downclimb, but you couldn't see it all the way down, so we had to trust that it would go.

I came down this chimney area, which took some slight stretch moves but was fine. Dave headed right a bit and came down an easier area.

And we swapped places and took shots of the narrow cliff traverse area on the way back

So down all the way to the step across, I was very comfortable with the down climbing, and a little upset with myself for being nervous on the way up. I was having fun so far. Getting to the step across, my mind and body froze. To me it looks like a little more of an up-step on the way back, with a much smaller landing area. In short, I didn't do it, grabbed the wall and straddle stepped across with the handholds. I think I could have stood there all day long and never got the courage to make the jump.

Dave on the other hand had no problems with it. He made me climb up and get this shot of him going across (after crossing once and then crossing back), and he offered to go again, facing the camera and sticking his tongue out a la Michael Jordan. I didn't think it would be necessary for him to rub it in further, so he has to be satisfied with this.

Beyond this point, we made it back to the saddle easily, put on the Microspikes, and headed down the gully. With those things on, my feet didn't slip or slide once, and we were very quickly at the bottom. Here is Dave coming down, also with the spikes.

From the amphitheater back to the car was uneventful. I stopped at the Deadly Bells sign to get a photo (too superstitious to get one prior) and there were some couples that were reading it and marveled that I climbed Pyramid. As we talked, I indicated that I had climbed all three. They were impressed, and I was humbled as it started to sink in that I just have Pikes left, and have done almost all of the harder peaks this summer.

A year ago, I was sitting in the parking lot giddy with the thought that I might have the skills to finish the 14ers, and this weekend I walked back to the same lot with a confidence that is life changing. It was a great drive back to Denver and a great trip home.

Thanks Dave! Pikes Peak or Bust!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions
Doctor No

Pikes Peak or Bust!
02/05/2011 00:22

Very nice report - it makes it very easy to imagine that I was up there with y'all. Good luck on Pikes!


Costume Party
04/18/2014 19:27
Are you going to try to beat Doggler's finisher party? I think if you can get the Coors Light girls there you may have a chance! Congrats!

Judge K

Finishing Fiesta?
09/14/2010 19:43
Man, I wish I had been up there with you two. I can't wait to repeat Pyramid with Xan. Roo and I spent


Great weekend!
11/30/2010 17:28
Don't be so modest: I just want everyone to know that Mike insisted that I NOT get a photo of him nailing a backflip over the "step-across." It was a great weekend of climbing with you, Mike. Ya know, looking back at my Pyramid TR and yours, I am reminded of why I don't really put TRs up much anymore. Someone looking for route information would get a lot more from yours than from mine. Good luck on Pikes!


Nice report!
09/14/2010 19:53
Good job on the report! we climbed Pyramid on Saturday and, as you mentioned in your last paragraph, last year we were also wondering if we had the skills to do this tough 14ers. After our climb this weekend the confidence went way up and it is a good feeling .
I will post my report on North Maroon and Pyramid sometime this week.

Brian C

Nice report
09/15/2010 00:19
Makes me want to get back down there. Love the photo of the goat standoff. Congrats on 57!

Southern Appalachian

09/15/2010 03:31
When are you doing Pikes? Deb would like to know.


Thank you.
09/15/2010 04:25
It is nice to see that you did the same EXACT thing I did, both times, at that leap of faith. I still don't know if I will jump it the next time... Quite the impressive back to back, Capitol and Pyramid!


Interest in Pikes...
09/15/2010 13:05
I'm submitting my vote for best Pyramid TR. Great job with fantastic photos and details. So, Mr. Emcee, when are we doing push-ups on Pikes??


08/22/2015 21:25
Just did pyramid today after reading your TR last week. The Microspike idea to go down that awful gully was awesome, it made it so much easier!

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