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TOPIC: Pyramid Peak, Landry Route 4/18-19/08
#352
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Pyramid Peak, Landry Route 4/18-19/08 9 Years, 3 Months ago  

Email sent out to the bulletin from John Minier 3/24/08:

"Subject says it all. I need one partner, and they need to be on their shit. This is no Sunday stroll. The top section is 50 degrees + for 500 feet and is a strict no-fall zone (big-ass cliff lurks below). No posers, pansies, ass-munches, or or dudes named "Lucky." Please
leave your steeze at home."

My response:
"Thats funny looking for a partner for this online. Well I saw that you've accomplished some solid descents. I'd be into chatting about it. I was considering the lookers left line if the Landry Route makes me sick. Did 5000 ft. today on Spread Eagle Peak SE bowl, a stout crust has formed on S aspects and the first real MF cycle of the season is going off. Attempted the Crestone Needle's S Couloir, but our timing was off. I'll be skiing Mt. Aetna tomorrow, living out of the truck untill wed. Give a call or email
-Matt"

Fast forward to friday 4/19:
Jesse Durrance picked me up at 7:30, and we headed out to his parents place in Carbondale to meet up with John. We double checked gear, got more food, checked some weather models, avy reports, then headed for "T Lazy 7 Ranch", the Maroon Creek TH. We saw Davenport on the way out, who had just skiied the SE face of Thunder Pyramid with a buddy. They had real nice fancy snowmobiles. We had old schloppy skins. We learned that the snow was well bonded up high, and he didn't find any slabs. This was our main concern, as the zone got 4-6" two days earlier.

We were stoked, but we also learned there was supposedly a team from the front range planning on 'biling in and hitting it in the A.M. This was now our main concern.

Despite Chris's recommendation to climb up into the N amphitheater, then meet the ridge to ski the E face, we still climbed the E face Landry Route direct. With a line this serious, I wouldn't consider otherwise.

Camp was on a bench at 10'400 ft, leaving us 3600 ft to deal with when the alarm went off at 2:30.

Finding the exit couloir was tricky in the dark, and I swung wide looking for it. I heard John shout down that they found it, so I crossed back over the apron, and continued up among ice chunks wizzing by at terminal velocity. The exit couloir was real steep, real hard icy runnels formed from wet sluff likely last monday.

The sun rose just as we topped out the exit couloir. We climbed increasingly steep snow in the main line until nearing the ridge. I was leading the bootpack ladder up 55 degree powder around the guarding cliffs, hoping to be able to stay on snow all the way up. I could feel the bottom becoming rotten the further over the 500 ft. cliff that I got, so we went through the guarding cliffs. John led through 3 fourth class cliff bands, and we hung out on the summit, nervously focusing on the commiting turns right below us after a very demanding climb. We threw snow at the 60 degree slope above the endless cliff. It bounced off. This aspect was more southerly, and therefore had a stout crust, and hadn't softened much. We shivered in terror, then remembered we could stay on the ridge and skirt around the rocks. This still led us to what was the best turn in my life.

I scooted out from the ridge, above the cliff, and grabbed some slope, feeling the innards of this snowpack that I would be trusting with my life. It felt good, real soft, a bit moist, well bonded. So I went for it. With one jump turn I dropped about 10 vertical feet, eased onto my heelside and cut the hell off that thing. Jesse and John followed one at a time, each sticking it. We rejoiced on the ridge, and stared down at what lay below. One of the most aesthetic, steep, extreme ski routes in the country, if not the world. 4600 ft. from summit to valley bottom.

We skied very conservatively, watching waterfalls of sluff pour down adjacent to our safe spots. Down at the exit couloir, we were once again scared. Pulled off on the soft snow of the right side, we considered downclimbing the weird runnel. We hung out on the 55 degree slope, waiting for the sun to hit it directly as the wind started to stir. "I'm going to go check it out" Jesse said. "Wait another 5 minutes, the sun is doing its thing" I said. This happend a couple times. Patience. By the time Jesse led through the exit couloir, it was just soft enough. We watched from above as Jesse styled the second crux of the route, a ski width slot that had to be traversed out of, then into the next main couloir which was also steep,narrow and one big runneled rib.

We cheered on as he sent it, then focused on our own problems.

We never saw any of the "Front Rangers", and were glad to not have to worry about that. Once out, we let er run loose on the smoother part of the apron, ripping endless smooth corn below debris fields. We packed up camp, thanked the mountain in our own unique ways, then continued our descent.

I am still continuing my descent.
-Matt

I have to thank Jesse Durrance and John Minier, the mountain gods, our window, and everybody that I have ever learned anything from. It all culminated and flourished on this day.

Photos
 
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Last Edit: 2008/04/23 10:19 By dmandave.
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#353
Minier (User)
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Re:Pyramid Peak, Landry Route 4/18-19/08 9 Years, 3 Months ago  
Nice work Matt! That just about sums up the adventure. Except you forgot the part about the helicopter that we mistook for an avalanche and about pooped our pants. It flew by about 100 feet from the mountain right when we found ourselves tiptoeing up the dicy cliff bands on the summit ridge. WTF.

Anyways, it was an adventure never to forget. It sounds like you are still about as high as I am.

John
 
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#354
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Re:Pyramid Peak, Landry Route 4/18-19/08 9 Years, 3 Months ago  
I'm thrilled it all worked out.. We were thinking about you guys atop Longs. Two 14er ski descents, what a day in the Colorado backcountry! Congratulations
 
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#357
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Re:Pyramid Peak, Landry Route 4/18-19/08 9 Years, 3 Months ago  
 
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Last Edit: 2008/04/25 09:05 By dmandave.
 
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