Backpacking Trip Report: Pyramid Peak

State:

Washington

Location: North Cascades National Park

Type: In and Out

Mileage: 10
Days: 2
After a few weeks of not getting to the top of anything, (tiger doesn’t count tongue.gif ) I was getting hungry for a summit. But where to go? To the North Cascades of course! I’ve been spending a lot of time in the n.c. this winter because I love the views. Unfortunately, the weather can be bad a lot of the time. Most times when it’s nice everywhere else, it’ll be bad in the n.c. To get around this issue, I figured if I went there nearly every weekend, my chances of good weather would improve! I had been fiendishly checking the weather all week, and it was not looking good for the weekend. On the other hand, it was not looking good anywhere in the state, for saturday anyway.Laurie and Katie arrived at my place at 5am on saturday morning. I wanted to give them the dire weather report, and give them fair chance to bail. Not that there was anything to bail to. We all agreed to go anyway, 100% chance of precip. be darned!

Medium rain had slowed to light mist by the time we left the car. We were on the trail to pyramid lake by 8:15am. (1100ft) We followed the trail until it became obscured by snow, after which we followed the creek up towards pyramid lake but never crossed over to the lake itself (not really worth seeing, IMO), instead we headed up steep timbered slopes until we reached an undefined ridge with an open area where we stopped for lunch(4500). It had been snowing lightly since 2000ft and there were no views at all. We were wearing snowshoes, but removed them for the next steep slope ahead. Two rocky, cliffy areas we encountered were bypassed to the right(north). We broke out into open alpine slopes at about 5200ft. I strained my eyes for views, but alas, all was obscured by fog and snow. We found a semi sheltered place for camp(5350ft) and set up the “baby”.

The “baby” was a 3 person, 4 season tent we had borrowed for this trip. Since I wasn’t familiar with this type of ‘suspended in the fly’ tent, I didn’t want to take it all apart to split up the weight between us for fear that I wouldn’t be able to re-assemble it properly in a snowstorm embarassedlaugh.gif We worked out a system instead, where we would rotate the baby every few hours so each of us could have the pleasure of carrying the whole tent (minus the poles, of course). After my turn with the baby, I handed it over to Laurie, who didn’t want to give it up once she had it. Katie and I couldn’t find a reason to complain about this situation up.gif

After some april tomfoolery with the tent poles, we had our palace set up for the night, and went to sleep to the sound of snow hitting the tent, and hopes for views and maybe even a summit in the morning.

All that was hidden the previous day was revealed in all its glory for us on sunday morning! But, we had slept in too long to make a real summit bid – or had we? We had some breakfast (can’t climb without coffee doh.gif ), and set off with day packs toward the col at the base of Pyramid peak, which was only about 20min. from camp. We were ready to have a look at the traverse we would need to do below the east face of pyramid peak to gain the colonial glacier. Our route would be a U-shaped one, and traverse below paul bunyans stump and Pinnacle peak in order to gain the easy south slope of pyramid peak. The traverse from the col to the snout of the colonial glacier was the crux of the climb. It was an exposed traverse, and would have to be done one at a time, quickly.

We stood at the col, sizing up the route ahead. We had many factors against us and few in our favor. The sun had been baking the slope for hours, and as we stood there, snowball after snowball rolled down its length. We had decided to leave the snowshoes in camp (a weird call, in retrospect) and were postholing and moving slowly because of it. We would have to re-cross this slope later in the day, which would make it even more dangerous than it was right now. We all decided it would be unsafe to cross, and climbed up and over the knob to the east of the col to get out of the wind, sit in the sun, and enjoy the views. About 10 minutes later, we heard the thunder of a good sized slide, and ran back up to the knob to take a look. The slope had released a good sized, long running wet slide right across where one of us would have been had we gone. eek.gif No foolin’.

We were happy with the decision we made, and made our way back to pack up the “baby” and head down. From a couple thousand feet below, we could look up and still see the slide path. A leisurely descent had us back at the car by 4pm with many hours of daylight left!! We almost had time for another hike…… wink.gif

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