Pyramid Peak (N): In Between Two Storms

17 Jan 1998 - by Ron Karpel

A day earlier or a day later, this trip wouldn't have happened. But Palmer Dyal skillfully planned the trip so we could climb the peak during the few nice hours between two major storms. This trip started in a heavy drizzle on the tail end of one weather system, and ended as a new storm starting to dump its load of fresh snow. A few hours later, both highway 80 and 50 were closed.

We started from the Twin Bridges trail head and followed the summer trail, now buried under a couple feet of snow, for about 1/4 of a mile. Then we turned sharply left and started to climb straight up the ridge. It was steep, but never more then 30 degrees, so avalanche danger was minimal. The snow condition made the climb slow, as we took turns breaking trail.

We reached the camp location at 3:00pm at 8000 ft. on a wide flat area of the main ridge. The drizzle which was heavy most of the climb up, had stopped, and allowed us to build camp and cook dinner. By 7:00 PM the sky had cleared, and we were able to see the ridges around us under the star light.

The clear sky made for a cool night, and by morning, the snow was frozen solid. This made for ideal conditions for climbing the peak. We used snow shows at the beginning, and switched to crampons for the final assault of the summit ridge. As Palmer told us ahead of time, ice axes were not needed. The relative low angle of the ridge and the rock hard snow made the summit climb simple with just crampons. Everybody summitted.

The sky was darkening, and the wind was increasing steadily ahead of the new storm. And by the time we reached the summit it was blowing hard enough to knock us down to the ground (the snow really). We spent little time on the summit and started down. We broke camp, and just as we were all packed up and ready to go, it started to snow. By the time we got to the trailhead, it was a downpour.

Participants: Palmer Dyal (leader), Nancy Fitzsimmons, Dee Booth, Terry Halpin, Ron Karpel, Scott Kreider, Nathaniel McKitterick, Andrei Peters, Michael Ryan, Steve Richardson, Ahmad Zandi.

This was the first trip for me this winter that didn't get canceled due to weather.


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