Pyramid Peak is the third Fourteener in the Maroon Group, directly opposite the Maroon
Bells. Like the Bells, it is characterized by maroon-colored rock that comes in loose,
down-sloping slabs which form nice ledges. The loose rock requires some attention, and
party (or goat) induced rockfall is a real danger, but the tales of how dangerous and
difficult the mountain is are largely overblown. Getting caught by bad weather above
13,000' is a bad idea, however, and should be avoided at all cost.
Routes: NE Ridge (II, 4th Class)
Date: August 25, 2006
Party: DB solo
Route: NE Ridge
Time: Maroon Lake - Summit 5hrs 10 mins
Summit - Maroon Lake 4 hrs 10 mins
Roundtrip from Maroon Lake 10 hrs
I started from Maroon Lake by sunrise at 6:30, and promptly managed to miss the trail to Crater Lake, hiking to the end of Maroon Lake instead. I corrected by taking the connector trail from the Scenic Loop to the Crater Lake Trail (the connector is "closed for revegetation", which always cracks me up; it will take a few centuries before anything will grow on these trails again), and soon found the climber's trail that provides the approach to Pyramid Peak. Climber's Trail is an understatement, actually, this is a full-fledged and fully maintained trail, complete with steps where it crosses the talus! It also provides superb views of the Maroon Bells.
Once I entered the basin below Pyramid's North Face the boulder hopping began, but the boulders are of a very convenient size and provide fast going. At the top of the basin I found, to my surprise, a glacier remnant, and a lot of water could be heard running deep underneath the talus. The next thousand feet, up steep dirty slopes to the NE Ridge, were somewhat cumbersome, but soon I reached the saddle in the ridge, where I found a few mountain goats.
At the start of the ridge part one still travels on a very good trail, and only after a while does the terrain change to third class. There are some sections of reasonable rock, some sections of horrible rock, and some steep dirty gullies, but with proper route finding the difficulty never exceeds third class. Beware of rock fall, though, if there are any parties (or goats for that matter) above you! A bit over five hours after I started I was on the summit and enjoyed the superb views.
Downclimbing the ridge took me almost as long as going up, due to the rotten rock. The remainder of the descent went faster, but halfway through the basin I noted that something was wrong with my left little toe. I had opted for leather boots instead of sneakers, which was overall the right decision, but I had not worn the boots for quite a while, and that showed. Despite my best efforts to keep pressure off of my left toes I wound up with a black-and-blue toenail. Still, I enjoyed the hike down into the valley and back to Maroon Lake.
A very nice climb offering superb scenery and a good workout, which completed my collection of Maroon Group summits.