Peak(s):  Pyramid Peak  -  14,018 feet
Post Date:  07/11/2012
Date Climbed:   07/01/2012
Posted By:  AndYouSeeMe
Additional Members:   mikefromcraig

 "Waiting for the time when I can finally say......  

......That this has all been wonderful, but now I'm on my way" from 'Down With Disease' by Phish

Peak: Pyramid Peak(14,018ft)
Mileage: 8 miles
Elevation Gain: 4,500 ft


Well, the time had finally come, I was down to my last 14er. Due to poor planning my final 5 were not peaks that my wife felt comfortable climbing, so we compromised and decided on Pyramid Peak, so she could enjoy the area around Maroon Lake. My long-time climbing partner Brandon and I’s schedules were not matching up, and with the monsoon approaching, I decided I needed to get this done sooner than later in order to up the chances of being successful on the first try

We babysat our friend’s kids until 12:45am on Sunday and hit the road to Aspen shortly after. With no traffic and me in a hurry to get started, I made the drive over Independence Pass from Broomfield to the day-use parking lot in just over 3 hours. By chance I had parked very near my partners for the day, Mike and Kay, and we were on the trail at 4:15.

Maroon Bells

Mike at sunrise

I took the point as I had been up the trail only a few weeks ago for North Maroon and knew where the cairn that marks the turn off for the Pyramid trail. After leaving the Crater Lake trail the Pyramid trail started out fairly flat, but with the sun beginning to rise the steep climb ahead to gain the amphitheater came into view. We were all surprised by the amazing work the CFI has done on the steep trail, and we made quick work of the 1,000ft climb because of the great switchbacks and trail conditions.

Alpenglow on Bells

First view of Pyramid

Once the switchbacks ceased we were greeted by the multitude of huge cairns and we took another break for fuel and pictures of the alpenglow on the neighboring Bells and the beautiful area in general. There was a narrow snowfield on the way into the upper amphitheater, but it was easily avoided to the left side, and we hoped it would mean a fast plunge-stepping descent when the snow had softened.

Looking out from amphitheater

The views of Pyramid during this time were amazing and intimidating at the same time, and only became more so the higher we climbed. Eventually we made a left turn, checked the route info, and started our way to the base of the gully that we had to climb to reach the Northeast Ridge. It was a deceivingly long boulder and talus hop but we finally reached the base of the gully and put on our helmets as we knew that rockfall was going to be an issue for the remainder of the climb.

More Pyramid

Looking down towards Maroon Lake

The gully actually had a decent trail for most of the way, which was surprising considering how steep and loose it was. Mindful not to knock rocks on each other we worked our way higher and higher and finally pulled ourselves up to the start of the ridge, where the rest of the route came into view. Like the view of Capitol from K2, the view of Pyramid from the top of the gully is a classic shot and I was extremely happy to finally be seeing it in person.

Pyramid from base of ridge

Climbing up first gully to access ridge

While taking a break, checking the route description, and taking pictures we were first introduced to our constant companions and nemesis for the day, the mountain goats. They were all over the place! Normally I love having these guys around, but not on a mountain full of loose rocks ready to roll. There were a couple full families of goats, complete with some extremely cute little ones.

Cute but dangerous

Snowmass and Capitol in the back

The first part of the ridge is a great warmup of things to come, as it is some simple climbing without being too steep. After that introduction we all knew the rest of the climb would be serious and that we had to be on the top of our game and that teamwork was going to be key in keeping us all safe. It was at this point that the novelty of the goats began to wear off, as they seemed to enjoy following us from just overhead, threatening to knock rocks down on us.

Pyramid and the Bells

Routefinding on this mountain was more intuitive as I thought, and there seemed to always be a cairn when we needed a little guidance. It is apparent that many people all take different routes because there are cairns everywhere, some misplaced and leading nowhere. We soon reached the ‘leap of faith’, which for someone who is 6’5” was more a ‘large step of faith’. I had heard that the exposure under the leap was overrated and it was, only about a 20 foot fall if your leap comes up short. Don’t get me wrong, a fall here would not be fun, but not nearly as bad a consequence as a fall higher on the route.

Mike starting out on the ridge

After the ‘leap of faith’ we were on a very narrow ledge system that made for some good pictures and they were clear of loose rocks so we really enjoyed that section. Once past the first ledges we had some trouble finding the correct route to get to the green gully, but with teamwork and trial and error we found what appeared to be the easiest way over some loose ledges and ribs.

Going up

The green gully is appropriately named and made for some really fun scrambling as the rock was pretty stable and there were a plethora of hand and foot holds. Towards the top of the green gully the route to the summit really became a choose your own adventure type of climb. This is because there are a ton of viable options as well as that it is smart to spread out away from each other in case of a rockfall situation. A descending climber warned of us an aggressive male goat on the summit that he had to throw a rock at to fend away in order to make it to the summit proper. I knew one thing, no goat was going to stop me from finishing.

Kay crossing the ledges

We had taken our time enjoying the climb since the weather was phenomenal, and I finally topped out just before 10, I had done it! It was awesome that I made it up first and had a few minutes by myself to get emotional and reflect on this awesome journey, truly a very special time for me. Soon the summit had a group of 6 or 7 of us on it, some who came up from the south side, two on purpose, one on accident after getting off route way down in the amphitheater.

Summit!!! S and N Maroon, Snowmass, Capitol in the back

The views of the rest of the Elk Range and beyond were stellar and of course my camera battery died while taking my picture standing out on the diving board. Guess I shouldn’t have taken so many pictures of the cute baby goats on the way up! Mike got a summit picture of me though, so it was all good and kind of nice on the descent knowing I didn’t have to be dealing with the camera on the tough downclimb. I had also forgotten my celebratory Avery IPA in the car, but no big deal, nothing could have ruined the moment.

We started down and stayed close on the steepest parts to lessen the danger if any rocks decided to move. At this point the mountain had a bunch of people on it and with the goats added in the sounds of rockfall and the yells of ‘ROCK!’ kept our utmost attention and we were all anxious to get out of the danger-zone. Instead of climbing down the green gully we took a different route that I spotted that took us above and around it, not sure if it was a better or worse choice, but it worked.

Soon we made it back to the narrow ledges and ‘leap of faith’. We met another group and we gave our opinion on the weather moving in as well as some pointers about the remaining route to the top. The multitude of routes and cairns came into play and we ended up taking a different way than we had earlier and followed the ridge for most of the rest of the way to the top of the gully as opposed to dropping down to the east side as we had done on the way up.

Rock formation on descent

Before we knew it we were back at the top of the gully, with only the steep descent down the loose gully to go as far as difficulties were concerned. Mike and I got there a few minutes before Kay so I took the opportunity to climb the awesome rock formation further down the ridge. It was extremely loose but short, and the view of Pyramid was great.


Pyramid and goat

The gully descent went well and we were finally down into the amphitheater again, where we took of our helmets and were finally able to relax. While sitting on a boulder eating some beef jerky, I looked back up at the peak and it really hit me that I had climbed them all.

Love of my life with her goat pals

At this point I bid farewell to Mike and Kay, as I knew that Lauren would be wondering where I was. She had been hanging out near the big cairns for a few hours enjoying herself by taking pictures and bonding with a family of goats. It was great to see her and get a congratulatory hug and kiss. Without her support and permission there is no way I would have completed this task, and I am so glad we were able to share 15 climbs together, hopefully with many more 13ers in the future, I love you babe!

Maroon Lake

The hike down the switchbacks was uneventful and we soon joined the crowded Crater Lake trail. It is always fun passing all of the tourists who are wondering why you have so much gear at the same time you are wondering why they have no water and are in flip-flops, if only they knew. After a quick stop at the ‘Deadly Bell’s’ sign to tap it and let it know I had won this round, we made it back to the car at 3, where the Avery IPA tasted just as sweet as expected.

Beautiful area

Now that I have climbed all of the 14ers in Colorado, I am left wondering what next? I am already certifiably addicted to the 13ers so that is a gimme, and I am still figuring out if I am going to pursue any west coast 14ers or international climbs, who knows. I do know one thing, I am not done with the 14ers, but it does feel great knowing that any climbs of them I do in the future will be purely because I want to, not because they are on some list!

What's next???

There is not enough room here to list everything I have learned about myself and the mountains on this journey. I would also like to thank from the bottom of my heart anyone who I have shared a mountain with, even if only on a lowly 13er. I can assure you I learned something from every single one of you and I look forward to our next adventure. Also, a big thank you to all of the people I have not met in person but who have helped me with beta and questions, your help has been pivotal and I look forward to finally getting out into the hills with you. Gaining the summit of all 58 14ers does not even begin to describe what I have taken away from this, but the summits weren’t too shabby either!

Onward and upward!!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions

Fantastic report Aaron
07/11/2012 19:53
Congratulations on the beginning of your journey. It's been awesome watching all that you've accomplished this year. Now maybe we can actually climb something together at some point - it would be an honor. Three cheers for you!


My Sharpie Marks
07/11/2012 19:53
Did you see them?

In all seriousness, mucho congrats on finishing Aaron!

I Man

07/11/2012 20:13
(Trey wails on guitar in my head)

Nicely done, man. I've enjoyed getting to know you on the tail end of your 14er journey and look forward to our continued adventures on 13ers.

Others have said it, but I'll reiterate, you have a clear mind and a humble disposition, combined with a giant set of balls and the drive to succeed.

Above all you are a true friend!



Great Job!
07/11/2012 20:13
Congrats on completing the 14ers! I was that kid that got off route in the amphitheater. It was really cool to share the summit with you. Once again many congrats, and good luck with any climbs the future holds.


07/11/2012 20:16
Awesome job Aaron, way to get after it! Pyramid is a cool peak to finish on and glad your wife could be there to join you as well.


Nice work!
07/11/2012 21:08
I've really enjoyed watching your progress and reading your reports over the past couple of months, way to see it through to the end. Hope to climb with you some day, Aaron, and congrats!


Congrats, Aaron!
07/11/2012 21:55
I remember when you were young and inexperienced with half the peak list. How you've grown. Wait, it's only been a few months. No kidding on the supportive wife.

Mike's doing well, too! Congrats!


Nice Report!
07/11/2012 22:16
Hope to get up there this year. The pictures were absolutely luring. Thanks for posting and Congrats on your accomplishment!


Big congrats!
07/12/2012 00:28
As a relative newbie I hold reports like this closer than others because they encourage me to keep going. Further up, further in!


Congratulation !
07/12/2012 00:54
It was great reading all your trip reports and seeing some awesome photos along the way with you. On to the next list. Nice summit shots as well.


07/12/2012 02:54
Great job man! I bet you'll appreciate them at a whole new level once you know for sure that it's not because of any list!


07/12/2012 03:16
I'm so glad I could share your finisher with you.

It's a shame you're finished because you have excellent route finding skills and a supernatural ability to not send any rocks down the mountain; I'd love to use you on my last few.

The ”leap of faith” sure was a letdown. It should be renamed the ”slightly larger than average step of faith.”

You forgot to mention that naturally caused rock slide we saw. That was pretty scary even though it wasn't near us.


Nicely done!
07/12/2012 05:20
Congratz man! It's always fun to read your reports.


congrats aaron!
07/12/2012 05:36
nice way to finish. hopefully meet you out there somewhere soon man, well done!


Very nice!
07/12/2012 06:11
Great report and some great pictures! I love the contrast of the greens and reds on the Bells and Pyramid. Congrats on finishing on a high note!


Congratulations, Aaron!
07/12/2012 11:38
What an awesome peak to finish on, too! But it's true, the tourists at the bottom are ridiculous. Gives some comedy to a long day in the hills. Anyway, congratulations again!


Wait a sec...
07/12/2012 16:54
I kinda question whether this was a really a summit or not because I didn't see a Snickers bar in your ”summit shot” photo. Have you kept every wrapper?

Way to go Aaron. Yale and Macot sure were fun...well...except for the aftermath.

Wish we could do more together sometime. 8) That is if you ever climb peaks on weekends again!

I know what you mean about the importance of having a supportive wife.


Awesome job
07/13/2012 22:11
well done and what a peak to finish on! (Great song selection too!)


07/13/2012 22:46
It was good to climb Sunlight and Windom with you last summer. We will have to get up some 13ers now...


Congrats and...
07/16/2012 00:49
...nice pictures. Glad you had good weather; Pyramid is a marvelous peak.


Congratulations. Superb Report
07/17/2012 01:39
I am planning Pyramid with a CMC group on 20 July. I have spent many sleepless hours worrying about the exposed Class 4 sections. Your report gives me the confidence that it's not as bad as I am imagining it to be. I had the same feelings about Capitol, but got over them fast when I was actually on the rock. I have 16 left. Wish we could have done one together. Vort.


09/25/2012 02:40
Enjoyed reading some of your other reports and great to see you have finished!!

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