Climbing Pyramid Peak | A Dangerous and Deadly 14er
Three fourteeners tower over Maroon Lake, all difficult peaks that deserve your respect. Climbing Pyramid Peak has the deadly distinction of being the most dangerous climb of all three; it features an intimidating class 4 route with loose rock and nasty exposure that requires expert route-finding skills. Take plenty of time to research this route well so you can find your way up the exposed northeast ridge. Get started on your preparation for climbing Pyramid Peak with my complete route guide below for free.
Climbing Pyramid Peak | Fast Facts
Climbing Pyramid Peak - Route Guide
Even before you start climbing Pyramid Peak, just getting to this trailhead can be a logistical challenge, as you need a reservation to shuttle in to the area. Click here for more info on reaching the Maroon Leak trailhead. This is where my Pyramid Peak route guide begins.
From the Maroon Lake trailhead, head west along the lake on the solid Crater lake trail. At the cairned junction with the Pyramid trail, take a left if you’re hoping on climbing Pyramid Peak. Head southeast to reach the base of a steep slope guarding entry into the higher amphitheater. Take the trail that switchbacks up the slope. Enter the amphitheater around 11,400 feet. Pyramid Peak towers ahead of you at the end of the basin.
With no defined trail, continue up the basin to the right of a large rock glacier. This often hold snow late into the summer. After a half mile of hiking, turn left and head across the basin to the ridge on your left. Locate a trail at the base of the slope and follow it 1,000 feet up to gain the northeast ridge. It is very loose and partially scree covered, so take your time and wear a helmet.
At the 13,000 foot saddle, turn right and follow a trail on the right side of a large outcropping, taking you to another small saddle at 13,100 feet. From here, continuing climbing Pyramid Peak requires class 3 and 4 climbing and careful route-finding. If the weather is turning, this is a good time to turn around.
Look for cairns on the ridge’s right side. Follow these until the terrain becomes more difficult. Climb left to gain the ridge and over to the south side of the peak. Underneath the crest, follow the cairns over several small rock ribs and a gap. This leads to a narrow ledge crossing above some steep terrain and cliffs. Take care while crossing a narrow section towards the center.
After the ledge, follow more cairns along the slope, over a gully, and left to another rock rib. Climb around this rock to reach a steep face of greenish rock. Climb up a few hundred feet up the greenish rock and before reaching the crest of the ridge, identify cairns to the left.
The remaining 500 feet of climbing Pyramid Peak is complex, but usually well-cairned. Take your time, and study route pictures before you. Continue left of the ridge crest and zigzag up loose, red rock. You will likely encounter a couple of short, Class 4 pitches on the last few hundred feet below the summit. This route is loosely defined with several alternatives, take the line of least resistance. Near 13,900′, if you’ve followed the most direct route, the slope begins to ease as you near the summit.
From the top, enjoy your accomplishment and the views. Be sure you descend with plenty of time to reach tree line before afternoon thunderstorms become a hazard. I hope you found my Pyramid Peak route guide helpful and informative. Good luck climbing Pyramid Peak, and safe travels on the trail! For more info and pictures, visit the 14ers.com route guide here.
Let my topographical map of the Pyramid Peak Route guide you on your way. It’s perfect for your trip. Download it on your phone and print out a paper copy so that you have a spare just in case anything goes wrong while you are climbing Pyramid Peak.
Besides researching with my Pyramid Peak route guide, you should research the weather conditions before climbing Pyramid Peak so you can pack and prepare properly. Here are several dependable weather sources to get started with on your research.
Climbing Pyramid Peak is an inherently high-risk activity – do so at your own risk, and use the following best practices to help keep yourself safe. Good Luck!
- Research your route using my Pyramid Peak route guide and bring a compass & topographic map.
- Check the weather forecast and stay home during inclement weather.
- Bring the Ten Essentials and the knowledge/skill to use them.
- Leave your plans with someone back home along with a detailed itinerary.
- Start early, and end early: Be back at tree line by noon to avoid lightning.
- Bring a buddy on your first ascent, preferably someone experienced.
Climbing Pyramid Peak is an objectively dangerous activity. There is a significant risk of injury or death, even with proper planning and experience. Those using my Pyramid Peak route guide accept all risks associated with climbing 14ers and do not hold this website or any information they obtain from it liable for any accidents or injuries that occur while engaging in these activities on Colorado’s high peaks. It is each hiker or climber’s responsibility to research their route carefully, bring the ten essentials, and practice other safe practices, though even these precautions do not eliminate risk and danger. Visit these summits at your own risk.
Alex is a mountaineer and blogger based in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others explore the mountains, stay safe, and preserve the peaks for the future. Subscribe to the Next Summit Newsletter here.