On the positive side, Pyramid is an exciting scramble to a spectacular and renowned summit with some of the best views in the range. Pyramid is not as busy as many Colorado mountains and the approach is relatively short.
Find Maroon Creek Rd. off Highway 82 at a roundabout a few miles north of Aspen. Head towards and eventually past the Aspen Highlands Ski Area. Continue up this road for 9.5 miles past several campgrounds and trailheads to the end at the Maroon Lake trailhead. Day climbers continue to the end to the bigger lot and backpackers need to use the overnight lot a little farther from the lake.
There is a $10 day use fee to park at Maroon Lake. Overnight fee is $15. The rock of the Elk Range is notorious as some of Colorado’s worst. The formations that constitute Pyramid and the Maroon Bells are the worst in the range. In essence, this is a worst of the worst scenario. This combined with all three mountains’ steep profiles has led to trouble for many people in the past.
Northeast Ridge (II, 4th class)
The standard route on Pyramid Peak. The Northeast Ridge is the easiest and fastest way to do Pyramid but it is still loose, difficult and dangerous. From the trailhead, follow the Maroon Creek trail past Maroon Lake towards Crater Lake. At a flat area just before Crater Lake, turn left (south) at a cairn and follow a long trail as it climbs toward a gully and Pyramid Peak. Enter the scree not far after treeline and follow a rock glacier into a huge basin at the foot of Pyramid's North Face at around 12,000'. Climb a treacherous screefield for 1,000' to reach the northeast ridge proper at a 13,000' saddle. From here the view is intimidating. The last 1,000' includes much class 3 scrambling and even some class 4. The rock is very loose and the there is exposure. This is not a place you want to be in a bad thunderstorm. Be very careful where you place your limbs. In the harder sections only move one limb at a time and carefully test your holds. Don't climb above or below anyone. For one long section in the Green Couloir, my partner and I moved one climber at a time. Taking care like this will minimize the chances that anything bad will happen. Pyramid's summit is small and spectacular. Without question the Elk's are one of Colorado's most beautiful, though also most treacherous, ranges.
Northwest Ridge (II, 4th class)
|The Northwest Ridge on the right skyline
West Couloir (II, 4th class)
A seldom-climbed route that takes on Pyramid from a whole new angle. Follow the Maroon Creek trail for two and a half miles past Maroon Lake and past Crater Lake to 10,300'. Now's the business.... Leave the trail, cross West Maroon Creek, and start to take on Pyramid's West Face funneling into the left of the couloirs that form around 12,500'. This couloir will be treacherous without snow and exceeds 50 degrees, Enjoy!
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