Peak(s):  Pyramid Peak  -  14,018 feet
Date Posted:  05/17/2011
Modified:  09/13/2011
Date Climbed:   05/15/2011
Author:  Carl
Additional Members:   XC Snowboarder, rmiller
 Pyramid Peak - Landry Line   

Peak: Pyramid Peak
Route: Landry Line
Vert: Approx. 6,000
Mileage: Approx. 20
Time: About 24 hours, including 6 hours at camp
Group: Rob Miller, Marc Barella, & me.

Photo used with permission from Lou Dawson and

The Landry Line on Pyramid Peak is regarded by many as supreme in terms of Colorado ski mountaineering. While there may be steeper or more challenging descents out there, this one has it all. In short, an interesting climb leads to an esthetic and challenging ski descent with a pitch that begins at 60 degrees and gradually eases over a vertical drop in excess of 4,000 feet, surrounded by some of the most gorgeous mountains in the state. On Sunday we started early, got lucky with the snow conditions and weather, and were rewarded with an incredible day one on of the best lines in the Rockies.

Many parties start a Pyramid attempt with an early morning snowmobile ride up the gated Maroon Creek Road. However, the road is partially melted now and we don't have access to sleds. We pulled up to the gate around 4pm Friday as it started to rain. A half hour later we were back from Aspen with trash bags and loaded up the bikes as the weather cleared.
ImagePhoto by Marc

After a couple miles the road became too snow covered to easily bike so we switched to skins and headed towards the Bells. With recent beta from Brittany, Frank, and crew were knew the line was in pretty well so we kept the packs a little lighter by leaving the rope and harness at home.

We chose to bivy at the main Maroon Creek bathrooms. With a dry platform, an awning, a recently cleaned bathroom that doubled as gear storage, running water nearby in the creek, and million dollar views, it felt like the Ritz (an assumption, since I haven't stayed at one).

Forecasted lows were 29 degrees at 9,600ft and 24 degrees at 13,200ft. The skies were fairly clear allowing for a descent freeze. But since the Landry Line faces east, we got up at 12:30am and left the bathrooms by 1:15am. Leaving a little earlier than we thought necessary proved helpful when snow conditions slowed us down trying to gain the amphitheater and we climbed too far right. Scrambling in ski boots at 3am knowing you're eating up precious time and having to decide whether to continue up in hopes of finding an entrance to the amphitheater or cutting our loses and backtracking was frustrating to say the least.

We lucked out and found an easy down climb from our rocky perch into the amphitheater were we made up time skinning and picking up a recent boot track to the saddle at 13,200ft.
ImagePhoto by Marc

Rob on the saddle for sunrise at 6:15am. We're nearly back on track and I'm feeling like we have a shot at getting Pyramid. I estimated we would have to be dropping in by 9am to be safe.

It's less than a 1,000 vertical feet to the summit but the climbing is steep, exposed, and the boot track we followed to the saddle had ended.

As we rounded the next little ridge the remainder of the climb came into full view.

Marc and Rob double teaming one of the knife edges.

Most of the time getting from the saddle to the summit is spent on the ridge.
ImagePhoto by Marc

At time the climbing can get pretty interesting, with steep snow to the east and dramatic exposure to the west.

It's hard not to stop occasionally just to take in the scenery.

As we neared the east face I took the lead to kick a few steps and grab a shot looking back at Rob followed by Marc.

The climbing on the actual face is straightforward, albeit steep. We climbed left around a group of rocks and hit the summit at 8:15am.

On the top.

I remembered to grab a beta shot of Capitol Peak to the northwest before we dropped in at 8:45am.

Rob looks on as I ease my way towards the roll over. I've read that this slope angle is approximately 60 degrees, which seemed accurate. The exposure here is also pretty dramatic, causing the first few hundred vertical off the summit to definitely be the crux of the route in my opinion.
Image Photo by Marc

Marc riding this upper portion of the Landry Line. Possibly the third descent ever made on a snowboard??

Followed by Rob.

The snow softened quickly just 500 feet lower on the face. It would have probably served us well to have dropped in a half hour earlier.
Image Photo by Marc

Looking back at a solo climber/skier on the ridge who wisely decided to drop in before things heated up too much.

Marc flirting with the edge of the line.

And then riding the middle.

The exit skiers right was starting to get narrow.

Rob on the apron, along with a good bit of wet slide debris from days past.

After 4,000 vertical we were elated. This was a line I had been thinking about for a while and we all felt pretty lucky to have conditions come together like they did. Unfortunately we had not given much thought to how to get back to Maroon Creek Road. After a couple hours of bushwhacking to avoid crossing East Maroon Creek, we were forced to cross it anyway.

Rob and I ended up taking off our ski boots while Marc attempted to jump from rock to rock.
ImagePhoto by Rob, whose camera inadvertently got set to low quality

Unfortunately this was only the first of two creek crossings. After wading across West Maroon Creek we noticed the bridge just upstream from us.
Photo by Rob

Upon putting my ski boots back on for the second time in as many hours, we regained the vertical to Maroon Creek Road, popping out about 3.5 miles from the truck. But the end wasn't in sight just yet. Our camping gear was stashed in the bathrooms near Maroon Lake so we had to put the skins back on and head uphill for another 45 minutes.

We picked up the gear around 3pm and attempted to ski a few miles of road before walking the rest of the way back to the bikes. The partially snow covered road from the day prior now just seemed mostly dry as we walked to our bike stash.

The last time I was this happy to see my bike was when my parents surprised me with it on my 14th birthday. I loaded up the old kids carrier with all of Marc's gear, all of mine, and Rob's ski boots. Rob with Pyramid in the background.

Marc and I were fortunate enough to ski with Chris Landry earlier this year, and to imagine him pioneering this descent in 1978 is a truly amazing feat. It's a heck of a route and when conditions align a rewarding climb and ski. Thanks Rob and Marc for making this trip happen.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Nice work
05/18/2011 07:30
Looks like a pretty good day up there guys. Certainly a good year to hit the Landry Line.


Good stuff
03/04/2012 18:31
Great job on this one guys! Your just ticking them off Carl. Pretty soon you'll be done.


05/18/2011 12:53
Amazing shots guys! Amazing to say the least.


Excellent work guys
05/18/2011 13:34
Glad to hear you had a successful trip.


Pumped For You Guys!
05/18/2011 19:30
Rob, Carl, Marc, I'm impressed. Looks like it ended up being an awesome day with optimal conditions. Way to make it go without sleds too. Bummed I missed it, let's make sure to get out again this spring.


Bikes and balls
05/18/2011 14:19
Nice report Carl, takes balls to ski that line I imagine, and apparently bikes as well. Image #6 is a great shot (as are a bunch of the others).


05/18/2011 14:31
Way to get it done safely guys!!


Yeah dudes!
05/18/2011 14:38
The Ritz is exactly like that, but with room service!

Nice work on a tough but VERY rewarding peak. Of all the 14ers I've skied, that one is my fave. Splendid, gentlemen, absolutely splendid.


Image 6
05/18/2011 17:16
Ought to be on the cover of something. That's a classic photo. Maybe you can hang it in the foyer of your house above the Davenport book.
Strong work, especially Marc!


Sick Line!
05/18/2011 19:46
Nice job on one of the hardest ones. I would love to get in touch with Marc to talk some more about his 14er snowboard descents for the 14er snowboard project. Can anyone put me in touch with him?


3rd descent of Pyramid on a snowboard?
05/18/2011 20:10
Zach - I'll shoot you a PM. Marc was going to contact you to see if you know of anyone else who had ridden Pyramid besides Matt Primomo and Jarrett Luttrell. Or maybe you still have Marc's info from corresponding about his joint first descent of Little Bear? Looks like you're racking up the 14er descents too, congrats.


05/19/2011 01:29
...god they have a lot of snow. I really like your TR


05/19/2011 05:52
Wow, nice pictures and report. Congratulations on a good climb and ski. Took my breath away...


05/20/2011 05:59
Uh-oh, the legend of Marc is growing.... this will do wonders for him. Nice job gentlemen. Crazy sunrise photo!


05/21/2011 20:18
As far as I know, and I have looked a lot referencing databases of tr's from,,,, and talking to people like Jarrett Luttrell, Erik Kling, and some of their counterparts on the skiing side of things and I am not aware of any other descent of Pyramid on snowboard besides the two others you mentioned and Marc Barella's descent. Someone could always pop out of a hole somewhere and it could turn out otherwise but I think it is reasonable to say that Marc's descent of Pyramid is the third ever descent of Pyramid by a snowboarder. Lets PM soon about the contact info etc...Zach

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