Pyramid Peak 14,018' NE Ridge 8.2 miles, 4,500' vert:
It was just a mere 6 weeks ago that Chad and I slogged out from our epic on S Maroon Peak and thought we'd never lay eyes on Maroon Lake again...It was 5:30am yesterday as me and Natalee pulled into the Maroon Lake parking area with intent to do Pyramid. We had both been called off from work and decided to do a training climb for our Whitney trip in October. "Training" has mostly consisted of me subjecting Nat to increasingly difficult climbs to get her acclimated to both altitude and scrambling. And, as my Dad would say, "I didn't just fall out of the apple tree!", so maintaining my fitness is helpful too.
In true "Maroon things and I no longer get along" fashion, it started raining fairly heavily about 1 minute after we got there. And it lasted over an hour. (Forecast was sunny with a 20% chance of rain IN THE AFTERNOON). We were just about to leave when it suddenly cleared up and we thought - what the heck, we came all the way out here let's give it a shot. It was 7:15 - late! Since I had fond memories of the last time I did this Peak, I thought it would be "easy"! Well it wasn't easy (8 years later), and the weather acted up to decrease the "fun" factor again, but Nat was a pro, we got it done and got some good class 4 scrambling in as planned! Here, I will start the pics and finish the story in the pic captions...have a nice evening everyone and thanks for reading my long winded stories.
Obligatory Bells photo - didn't care about the "mirror" shot in this light!
Going up! The first part of the trail is just a gentle grade but rocky up the Maroon Creek trail, then you turn off and start going straight up. And you don't stop going straight up for 4400 feet. We cooked along quite nicely for the 1.5 hours, it then became apparent that this was no "easy" approach.
First peek at Pyramid as we approached the amphitheater. At this point we had already climbed about 1500 vert in an hour and 20 min.
Found the enter/exit cairn for the amphitheater- 😂
The amphitheater was still full of frozen snow so we went on the edge of the rocks. This is looking back down from our resting spot. I had forgotten a lot of things about this hike, including that the amphitheater is going up and over several glacial moraines with increasingly larger boulders to climb through and no trail. We spent about an hour and a half getting up and across this stuff to the base of the gulley!
Here we are at the base of the gulley. 3 hours in and we still had all that to go! About 1 mile but 2,000 vert and class 4 stuff up on the peak.
See, I'm happy about it. I am mad I didn't get a good pic of this gulley. It was not the worst gulley I've ever been in (some worse ones are the red gulley on Crestone and the airplane gulley on Navajo) but it was freshly rained-on mud! So you can maybe imagine going up 1,000 vert in half a mile in mud and loose rock. Here I questioned my decision to forego the poles today for a more streamlined rock climbing profile...we got to the saddle around yet another hour later. The clouds were starting to build in the distance which of course raised concern for the ridge...
Onward and upward! The following are some things we had to go up. Things stay relatively mellow, except for the narrow section of ledges (pictured later) until you get to the green gulley. You have now entered the more dangerous rock (obvi).
I don't remember this exact view but I think it's on the last stretch to the top. Somehow we got a little off the easy track (there are cairns everywhere) so we slowed on the final stretch to carefully choose our route. Note the clouds.
This is a view down the green gulley while in it.
Finally summit just after 12:00! This was one spot I wished I had a go-pro. The last 50 ft to the top is a bit of a narrow catwalk and is quite the airy view, Nats about halfway across it in this pic while I'm sitting on the top. It wasn't too scary to just walk across but I wouldn't want to do it while shooting video on my phone!
We sat at the top for maybe 2 minutes and it started spitting. 😖. Lunch was going to have to wait until we were at least down the green gulley safely. There's my friend S Maroon in the background. 😡
After about 15 hectic minutes of downclimbing - the "easy" route was obvious and allowed us to descend pretty quickly, and we realized we were not going to experience a deluge - we were able to relax a little bit and take some pics of features we had to climb for entertainment value.
The narrow ledges - you have to side step and hug the rocks and then just for fun at the end is about a 3 foot jump across a seemingly bottomless pit. (No im not joking)
Then we ran into some rude people blocking the route. (See the one up on the ridge in the distance too?)
This girl escorted us almost the entire way down to the saddle and most of the mud gulley! Then the real fun started...
We finally got back down to the saddle around 1:30 and the rest of the goat family joined us for lunch. Including this baby!
At least we got to slide/controlled fall down the snow instead of rock hopping down the amphitheater! Going down took longer than usual because it's so steep with rocks and because no poles with mad knees. finally made it down to the car around 4:15. 9 stinking hours! But we made it without incident!
We hit up the Aspen Hickory House for the post climb celebration/excercise in gluttony. There were so many rainbows in the storms on the ride home! I was pretty tired - had to skip my 10:00 pm indoor soccer game. Lol!