Pyramid Peak (Aug 10-12, 2007)

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pyramid_coverConditions: Backpack
Gear: ice axe, helmet, rope
Map: USGS Diablo Dam, USGS Ross Dam
Area: North Cascades (Diablo)
Reference: 100 Hikes in Washington's North Cascades National Park Region
Stats: approx. 10.4mi, 6814' gain (round trip)


Ay...carumbah! This was a hard trip.

The plan...Carla and I hike to camp below Pyramid/Colonial on Friday. We'd be joined on Saturday by RandyB, MikeC, and StefanF.

The trail to Pyramid Lk is fine though when Carla and I got there...I didn't see what the attraction was. The "lake" was more like a swamp and didn't seem all that scenic to me. The plus side was we would have trail this first 1.7+ miles of the trip. After the lake...it was all "off trail".

There was a faint climbers path heading up the ridge but it was very faint. Scrambling up that ridge at times was a matter of pulling ourselves and our heaving pack up using whatever we could grab onto...rocks, bushes, trees. It's a brutal grunt and it was hot which didn't make the trip any more pleasant. It's just under 2 miles from the lake to the point where we crossed over the east shoulder of Pyramid and in that 2 miles the "trail" gained over 3400'...that's steep. Finally though, we crossed over the shoulder and we got those awesome views I'd been hoping for.

The next .5+ mile is a boulder hopping, boulder avoiding, traverse at the head of Colonial Creek. We were aiming for the top of the waterfall and thankfully got there safely. This is one stunning trek to get to the Pyramid/Colonial basin. Wow...jaw dropping gorgeous.

We got to the edge of the glacier which is now receded leaving a bit of a melt tarn and a sandy bench where we intended to set up our tent. We unpacked, made camp and then headed up for a climb of Pyramid Pk. Nothing overly technical but we did rope up, have helmets and crampons on, and had ice axes ready. We were rewarded with stunning views over to Pinnacle Peak, Paul Bunyan's Stump, the Colonial Glacier and way in the distance...Snowfield.

We eventually headed back down to camp and though we'd scope our a route up Colonial. It was getting late, the route was steeper/harder than Pyramid and we likely didn't have time.

We watched sunset from a highpoint looking down at camp, had some dinner and then headed inside for the night.

Morning...we went back to our perch from the evening before and watched for the arrival of the guys. We could see classic mare's tales forming in the sky above Pinnacle and Pyramid. A sure sign bad weather was moving in, hopefully not too soon though. Eventually the guys arrived and we could see them on the traverse over to the waterfall and then the climb into camp. The arrived just in time. Another group came in behind them and that 3rd group got the last camp-able patch of sand on the far side of the tarn. Our earlier arrival got us the best spot.

MikeC and StefanF crashed on the sandy bench and power napped :) Then, after a while, the team headed off to do Snowfield while I stayed back in camp. I could see them shrink into tiny specs on the glacier as they disappeared over the top edge of the Colonial Glacier.

I spent the day exploring the area...hiking part way up Colonial, poking around the edges of the melt tarn, photographing the rocks and flowers. This area is spectacular.

As evening approached, I could see the tiny spec spill back over the top of the Colonial Glacier, the group was finally heading back. The group spent a cold but so far dry night back at camp.

Morning arrived and so did the weather. Camp was nearly socked in and it was wet. This was going to be a "fun" hike out. We packed up all the gear, soaking wet as it was, and headed down taking extra care to not fall on the descent back down to Pyramid Lake.
 
Pyramid Peak Slideshow

pyramid_map
(click on map to view a larger version)

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