The line down the Southeast Face. It's as steep as the Landry Route on it's neighboring big brother. Photo courtesy of Art Burrows.

The line down the Southeast Face. It’s as steep as the Landry Route on it’s neighboring big brother. Photo courtesy of Art Burrows.

This was nothing short of a spectacular day. From the day we first skied Pyramid together two years earlier, we had been talking about Thunder. It’s East Face is actually split into two by a ridge, leaving it with two, distinct, easterly faces– the Northeast Face, which is easily observable from points on Aspen ski areas and looks rather perilous (Though Dav insists he’ll ski it someday.) and the Southeast Face, which, though still really steep, is at least continuous.

From a pre-dawn start at T Lazy 7 Ranch, we snowmobiled up the road to Maroon Lake, and began up the west side summer route from Len Shoemaker Basin. It’s pretty easy travel to the Basin, after which any number of west facing couloirs will get you up on the ridge near Thunder’s summit. Just to share for others, we opted for the prominent couloir that splits Thunder and Lightning Peak. It’s easy to climb, and will get you up on the ridge, but for skiing and snow-climbing’s sake, it puts you a bit too far to south, and a route more to the north should be chosen. We ended up doing a rather large traverse of the East Face to get to the summit.

However you get to the summit, get ready for a super-steep, committing descent, 4,000 feet to the valley floor. This is a true gem of the Elk Mountains and Colorado, one of the most aesthetic, long steep descents you can find.

The photos can fill in some details.

We climbed up a couloir on the west side of the ridge, which toppped out at the notch behind Chris in the photo. From there we had to traverse the east face to get to the summit.

We climbed up a couloir on the west side of the ridge, which topped out at the notch behind Chris in the photo. From there we had to traverse the east face to get to the summit.

Further along the East Face

Further along the East Face.

Having traversed the steep east face (boot track is slightly visible), we got back on the ridge to the summit.

Having traversed the steep east face (boot track is slightly visible), we got back on the ridge to the summit.

Dav on top.

Dav on top.

Dropping in, like Pyramid it's super-steep right off the top.

Dropping in, like Pyramid it’s super-steep right off the top.

Incredible steep skiing.

Incredible steep skiing.

The east side of this Pyramid-Thunder-Lightning massif has unbelievably long and steep descents.

The east side of this Pyramid-Thunder-Lightning massif has unbelievably long and steep descents.

Chris closer up.

Chris closer up.

Tagged with →  

Follow the Centennial Skiers Blog

Subscribe today!

Join 221 other subscribers