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.]
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.
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.