Pyramid Peak
standard Northeast Ridge
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Difficulty:
 Class 4 
Risk Factors:Exposure: High
Rockfall Potential: High  
Route-Finding: High  
Commitment: High  
 
Trailhead:Maroon Lake
Start:9,600 feet
Summit:14,018 feet
Total Gain:4,500 feet
RT Length:8.25 miles
USGS Quad.:Maroon Bells
County Sheriff:Pitkin: 970-920-5300
National Forest:White River
Wilderness Area:Maroon Bells - Snowmass
Author:BillMiddlebrook
Last Updated:6/2019

Trailhead

NOTICE: For 2020, you must book in-advance to get an overnight parking spot at the Maroon Lake trailhead. Please visit this page for more information. Summer parking will likely be booked fast so you'll probably have to park in town and ride the shuttle up the night before your hike.

Full Link: https://aspenchamber.org/plan-trip/trip-highlights/maroon-bells/reservations

Drive to Aspen and locate the start of to the Maroon Creek road at a roundabout just west of town. Measuring mileage from there, drive 3.2 miles where you'll pass a ranch. At 4.7 miles, reach the U.S. Forest Service entrance station. During summer, there are restrictions to general travel on the Maroon Creek road. The road is closed to cars 8am to 5pm and people ride buses to reach the lake. The bus station is located down the road, at the base of Aspen Highlands. If you're backpacking in and camping before your climb, there are two overnight parking lots near Maroon Lake and if they are not full, the entrance station personnel may allow you to proceed during the day. If the lots are mostly full, they may ask you to come back at 5pm when some of the overnight hikers have driven out. If you're arriving after 5pm and there's no one at the station, you can pay the entrance fee and drive up. Just be sure to park in one of the overnight lots, not the marked, "Day Use" lots. If you plan to arrive at the trailhead early in the morning (definitely before 8am) and day-hike, you can drive up to the trailhead and park in one of the "Day Use" lots. The Crater Lake trail starts near far end of Maroon Lake.

Route

Follow the trail along the right side of Maroon Lake and enter the forest on the Crater Lake trail - #1. As you ascend into Maroon Creek, you'll get a preview of the lower route on Pyramid - #2. Before reaching Crater Lake, turn left onto the Pyramid trail ( 39.09015° N, -106.96023° W), just below 10,200' - #3. There are two entry points to the Pyramid trail and both are cairned. Hike southeast across a flat, rocky area to reach a small talus field at the base of a 1,000-foot slope. In 2006, the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative (CFI) constructed a sustainable trail up this slope. Follow the trail and eventually switchback out of the trees - #4. Near 11,400', reach the entrance to the amphitheater ( 39.08439° N, -106.95318° W).

Without a maintained trail, continue south into the amphitheater along the right side of a rock glacier - #5 and #6. Hike less than 1/2 mile toward Pyramid's north face before turning left (east) toward the center of the amphitheater - #7. Hop across talus toward the steep slope below Pyramid's northeast ridge and locate a trail at the base of the slope ( 39.07712° N, -106.95035° W) - #8 and #9. You must now climb 1,000' to reach 13,000' on the northeast ridge and portions of the slope are loose and scree-covered - #10 and #11. Reach the 13,000-foot saddle ( 39.07539° N, -106.94512° W) on Pyramid's northeast ridge where much of the remaining climb is now visible - #12. Turn right (southwest) and follow a small trail along the right side of a gendarme (#13) and to a small saddle, near 13,100' - #14.

The remaining 1,000' requires Class 3 and 4 climbing and careful route-finding. Briefly follow cairns along the right side of the ridge until the terrain becomes more difficult. Climb left onto the ridge and over to the south side - #15 and #16. Below the ridge crest, follow cairns over a couple of small rock ribs and a small gap (#17) to reach a narrow ledge ("cliff traverse") which crosses above some steep terrain - #18, #19 and #20. #21 is a broad look at the area from a bit higher on the route. It's an easy ledge but care must be taken while crossing a narrow section in the middle. After the ledge, follow cairns along the slope, across a gully (#22), and left to another rock rib. Climb around this rock to reach a steep wall of greenish, light-colored rock - #23 and #24. Climb a few hundred feet up the greenish rock (#25) and before reaching the ridge crest, look for cairns to the left. #26 and #27 show some of the steep terrain above the greenish rock.

The remaining 500' to the summit is complex, but usually well-cairned. Continue left of the ridge crest and zigzag up loose, red rock. You will likely encounter a couple of short, Class 4 pitches on the last few hundred feet below the summit. #28, #29 and #30 show some of the terrain. Near 13,900', if you've followed the most direct route, the slope eases near the top - #31. Gain the summit ( 39.071545° N, -106.950188° W) - #32 and #33.

Notes

This is the standard route on Pyramid but it's difficult and dangerous. IMPORTANT: This route enters the Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness area. Wilderness areas have special regulations and restrictions for party size, dispersed camping, campfires, etc. Also, dog owners should read the wilderness information carefully because some wilderness areas prohibit dogs to be off-leash and/or limit how close dogs can be to lakes and streams. If you have questions about the wilderness area, please contact a U.S. Forest Service office for the National Forest(s) listed above.

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