| Great conditions on Thunder Pyramid
Thunder Pyramid and Pt 13,722
Near ideal conditions made Thunder Pyramid a great hike. However, I have to confess that I must now join the seemingly long line of others who have gotten confused and twisted around on that mountain. Here's the story…
Set off from Maroon lake around 5:30am. It had been a full moon – would have been fun to start hiking earlier, but then route finding would have been even more of an issue.
The trip up and around Crater Lake was uneventful. (4th time this year. Two attempts to get Pyramid and once for the Bells.) I had looked at trip reports and also at Roach's route description before, and decided that I would just make it a good adventure and leave the "books" behind. Some days are good ones to go "by the book" – and some days are meant for adventure!
I remembered Roach's description of turning East around 10,500'. As the trail seemed to flirt with that elevation for some time, I was at a loss to what "point" was the right one. And then I remembered – it's an adventure!!!
The willows gave way to a small creek bed which led me up a ways. Some 2nd class with a little 3rd class scrambling gave way to a flatter section, which in hind sight Roach must have been calling "where the drainage flattens, opens and heads south" at around 11,700. Not seeing anything that looked like a "white gully" (which Roach says is "the key to the climb). I kept heading south looking for good options. There was an inch or so of snow on everything at this point in the day, but even when I came back at the end of the day and there was no snow – it was still very difficult in spotting what must have been the "white gully."
The "good option" that I found turnout out to be the 4th class gully in Roach's South Ridge route. With good still-firm snow in most of the gully, it was an enjoyable ascent. Expect when I heard the CHUNK of falling rock exploding on other rock! I quickly dug into the gully wall and covered up as fragments showered down. Fortunately, that was the only encounter with falling rocks that day.
The gully came out at the 13,420 saddle between Thunder and Pt 13,722. The warmer snow on the East face was perfect for packing, and thus made the journey across and up the face quite simple. The route was so positive that I came back the same way, picking up Pt 13,722 to round out my trip. Again, the snow was helpful coming down the gully – not too icy and not too soft.
My ascent time was roughly 5:30, with a 5 hour descent time, including picking up the extra peak on the way. Beautiful weather, beautiful views – a great way to kick off the snow hiking season. And a great way to wrap up all the Centennial peaks in the Elk range!
Not too many pictures, as the batteries were running low, but here is what I have….
The south ridge of Thunder Pyramid from Pt 13,722.
Looking back down the south ridge from Thunder Pyramid.
The beautiful Elk range....
The view from back at the trail. Best I can figure, Thunder Pyramid is due center in the picture. The saddle to the right is where the 4th class gully comes out.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):