#44 Rio Grande Pyramid – 13,821 ft.

Date: May 18, 2008
Team: Christy, Ted
Route: East Face

[Christy and Ted had a miserable ski trip here back in 2008.]

We skied the east-facing ridge coming down from the summit.

We skied the east-facing ridge coming down from the summit.

According to Roach’s Guide, Rio Grande Pyramid is the high 13er farthest from a 14er. It actually seems like the one mountain farthest from everything, period. When Christy and I came here we had a real challenge of it.<!–more–>

It had a lot to do with our particular timing. We had actually decided to head here after skiing Handies Peak earlier that morning,  so not only did we make the approach on semi-tired legs, but it was the afternoon so the snow was completely isothermic and patchy, making the whole afternoon a miserable slog with overnight packs.

The next morning we picked our way up through dense timber, following the gut of the valley from Weminuche Pass. When we finally emerged from the trees, the snow to the summit was fairly sparse, dusty, and badly suncupped. We pressed on in what was a very hot day, and eventually topped out. The snow was so poor, and the trees so thick lower down, that as far as ski descents go, Rio Grande left much to be desired. The slog out later that day in the hot weather and completely unsupportive snow was the final nail in the coffin for us. Rio Grande Pyramid worked us over.

In hindsight, earlier in the season would have been preferred. It wouldn’t have been so bad if there was more continuous snow from the trailhead, which would have also meant more snow on the summit. And the route down the North Face looked more interesting than our East Face (near the summer route) route. Hopefully Dav will get a better day up here when he comes.

But as I look back I remind myself you have to have bad days to know when you’re having the good ones.

Some photos:

Hiking in, on a hot May afternoon. Weminuche Creek was cranking.

Hiking in, on a hot May afternoon. Weminuche Creek was cranking.

A grassy spot to camp by Weminuche Pass. We barely made it by sunset.

A grassy spot to camp by Weminuche Pass. We barely made it by sunset.

After breaking out of the dark timber, the remaining route looked fair at best.

After breaking out of the dark timber, the remaining route looked fair at best.

riograndepyramidski88

Booting up the East Ridge. The valley to the north looked more filled in, but we didn't think we would have been able to make it back to our camp after.

Booting up the East Ridge. The valley to the north looked more filled in, but we didn’t think we would have been able to make it back to our camp after.

Christy on the summit. There's a great view of the Grenadiers from here.

Christy on the summit. There’s a great view of the Grenadiers from here.

Christy had actually tore out her tele binding on Handies earlier, and we had the added worry of a total gear failure. She did a good job of making easy alpine turns home.

Christy had actually tore out her tele binding on Handies earlier, and we had the added worry of a total gear failure. She did a good job of making easy alpine turns home.

The only good skiing was in the 800 vertical feet off the summit. The the sun cups and snirt took over.

The only good skiing was in the 800 vertical feet off the summit. The the sun cups and snirt took over.

Christy took this self portrait on the miserable trip out. She half jokingly wasn't sure if she was going to make it.

Christy took this self portrait on the miserable trip out. She half jokingly wasn’t sure if she was going to make it.

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