Peak(s):  Rio Grande Pyramid  -  13,821 feet
Date Posted:  10/30/2007
Modified:  11/02/2007
Date Climbed:   10/25/2007
Author:  Glen
 Rio Grande Pyramid  

Rio Grande Pyramid
Oct. / 24-26/2007

Rio Grande Pyramid has held a place in my mind for many years. It is 30 mi west of Creed and 13 mi North East of Sunlight Peak. It is Remote to say the least. The Pyramid rising to 13,821' is one of Colorado's 100 highest. Its prominence, pyramid shape, solitude, and one very unique rock formation just to its south known as "The Window" give Rio Grande Pyramid a character unlike any other.

Kiefer and I met in Loveland on the morning of the 23ed for the long drive south. After 6 hours of driving through much of the state we were leaving the San Lewis Valley (the place I grew up) and headed into the vast San Juan Mountains. We arrived at the trail head at Rio Grand Reservoir and the head waters to the Rio Grand River. It wasn't a surprise we were the only car at the trail head.

We started hiking at 6:30pm and after a great sunset over the Reservoir


a near full moon rose to illuminate our hike for the next 4 mi to Weminuche pass at 10,600'. After setting up camp and devouring a particularly delicious dinner if I do say so myself, we crawled into our sleeping bags for the night. The sounds of the howls awoke me in the middle of the night, if I didn't know it was just coyotes I would have been very unnerved.

The morning of the 25th was a brisk one with the temperature around 25degres. As we cooked our breakfast of oatmeal then I was gifted with the sight of 2 moose 300 yards away making their way through the willows in the high valley


There are very few trails in the Weminuche and the ones that are there are rarely traveled and in our case tough to find. So we bushwhacked our way up the mountain and toward the ridge we planed to follow to point 13287'. Around 11,500' we stumbled upon the skyline trail. After following the skyline for a mile or so we headed up the steep slopes to the ridge. The Ridge between points 12,911' and 13,287' was very interesting. The Terrain ranged from alpine tundra, craggy rocks, and a very volcanic mixture of rocks, scree and a material that resembled concrete. While on the Ridge Kiefer noticed a heard of 30+ elk making their way up and over a 12,500' foot saddle at an incredible speed ( I wish I could hike as fast as those elk).


We were soon on the seldom visited summit of point 13,287'.


The mass of Rio Grand Pyramid dominated to our south.


After a quick break to snap some photos, and gather snow to melt. We were on our way to climb the mountain that has called to me for years

The climb was steep up the crumbling rocks and snow. As we ascended the joking and chatting was replaced by heavy breathing and the sound of my hart pumping blood and o2 to my legs. Before we knew it we were on the summit!!

We had made it and now were engulfed with a view like none other; we were surrounded by the vastness of the San Juan's as if we were in a sea of mountains. We reveled in the view, and enjoyed the spectacular wind free warm day, along with a few snacks. After posing for a few photos it was time do descend off the peak.


Window peak a ranked 13er was still a possibility for us, and the window itself was a must, so we headed south down a very steep couloir of loose rock. While heading down doing everything I could not to send a rouge rock sailing into Kiefer.


I couldn't help but think what a great snow climb this couloir would be.


The window, this thing is unreal; it is a notch in the ridge running form Window peak and Rio Grande Pyramid. It is a perfect notch in the ridge with 2 almost 90degre angles the name is very appropriate. The rock is a conglomerate much like the Crestones. How a perfect square is just missing from this ridge is beyond me.


We had been hiking away form our camp all day, and the sun was now about to set. Being so far form camp and darkness approaching we decided to forgo Window peak and had back to camp via the Rincon La Vaca "Canyon of the Cow". The last bit of light left the highest peaks as we made our way into the trees.


Camp, food, and some Grand Marnier was the driving force in my mind as we trudged back form a 15mile day. We made it to camp at 8:30 pm marking the end of 11hours of hiking. Once again dinner was out of sight! We ate and chatted as we looked into the flames of the campfire. The topic of the discussion kept coming back to how amazing this trip was playing out. The weather was unbelievable! The wildlife spectacular! And the fact that we were the only people in miles added to the mystique of this timeless place.

We awoke to the frost and same 2 moose once again. In no hurry we packed up the camp and slung on our packs. The weather was still amazing as we hiked back to the trail head.

There is something about getting back to the car after 20+ miles on your feet, its one of those little joys in life that can't be bought anywhere. We started the long drive back to the Front Range with a stop in my home town of Monte Vista.

If you are ever in Monte Vista and are hungry I recommend Mountain View Restaurant. I had been bragging to Kiefer since the beginning of the trip about their Green Chili Burgers and I am proud to say the chili burger didn't let Kiefer down.

6 hours of driving we were back. This was one of the best trips I had ever been on. I was happy to have finally had the chance to visit this seldom climbed peak.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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 Comments or Questions

11/30/2010 17:20
You're a pretty cool dude, Glen. Without question, some of the best company I've had on any peak this year. Nice write up. I forgot to add some info you have included here.
I'll call ya regarding plans for next week & uploading.
Thanks for a sweet few days!

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