PYRAMID PEAK     Scrolling Photos     Back


Saving the best for last I left camp early to climb Pyramid while Sherpa Jeff broke camp and shuttled our gear 
back to the car at Maroon Lake.  The climb takes an aggressive start, climbing 1000 feet in a mile up a talus
slope that has been improved by the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative (CFI).  The trailwork the CFI did here
for sustainability is awesome, saving climbers a tremendous amount of energy and ardor in the early 
stages of this climb.  

Climbing out of the Maroon Valley offered spectacular early morning views of both of the Bells and Maroon
Lake below.  I moved quickly on the improved trail to reach the entrance to the amphitheater.  Following
large cairns I continued to climb fast across boulders and talus to catch up to climbers that were a 
considerable distance ahead of me.  By the time I achieved the base of the final climb up a gully to the
ridge above the amphitheater I had caught five climbers, but continued to give chase to a single climber
I had talked with the day before, named Brian, figuring him to be a confident and experienced technical
climber whom I wanted to climb the ledge and back side of the peak with.

By the time we reached the ridge I had caught up with Brian. (As I say, I am fast when I choose to be.)
We took a break for some eats and to let the three climbers below us - Kyle, Kate, and Sharon - catch
up within conversation range, and to photograph a family of goats.  The day proved to be another perfect
Colorado August day as we wrapped around the northeast ridge to jump a large crack before walking 
the ledge and upclimbing the cairned route to the top.  Lots of goats kept a watchful eye on us.  Rumor
has it that they throw rocks at climbers, but you couldn't prove it by me.

The five of us reached the top and had a good time goofing off and sharing our passion for these high 
places.  After some photographs and lunch we retraced our steps back down the mountain while
socializing and comparing notes on other summits.  Once down we stayed together as we returned to the
trailhead parking lot at Maroon Lake.  I couldn't help but notice how every tourist hiking on the trail, and
there were a lot of them, would yield to us as we passed with a certain paused interest and kind of awe.  
We were five sweaty climbers that had just accomplished an challenging summit, but it was as if there was 
a certain swagger evident that naturally parted the trail as we walked.  Very interesting!

After hugs and good-byes we parted ways to go back to our "real" lives.  It was the conclusion of climbing for
me, this time, and time to pursue other avenues of enjoyment in the Colorado Rockies, hit some brew pubs,
soak in some hot springs, and visit good friends and family.  Climbing in the Elks is something I shall always 
treasure.  These are some of the most extreme and dangerous peaks to be found in Colorado and some of
the best people found climbing anywhere.  These people are my family.  While the peaks were challenging, 
admittedly, they did not seem exceptionally so.  While I love Colorado I may turn my attention north to more
technically challenging summits, targeting more Class 5 pitches with increased exposure that can be 
engaged without fixed ropes or on belay.  If I learned anything on this adventure it is that I am a lot stronger 
physically than I may give myself credit for - legs, core, arms, and fingers - and perhaps mentally tougher 
than I've ever been; and that it takes a lot more than this to cause me anxiety while climbing.  So, in the future,
for whatever it holds, I aim to take on climbing challenges that might bring that lump back in my throat and 
cause me to have nightmares later, or even fear for my life while four-pointing it up some rock face.  That's 
what I'm talkin' about!!!