Pyramid Peak from Little Lakes Valley

29 Sep 2001 - by Michael Zimmerman

Our climb was precluded by an 8 hour drive from San Diego to the Mosquito Flats Trailhead. Our objective was to climb the North Ridge of Pyramid Peak (Peak 12,866 feet). We cast off from the trailhead at 7:15 AM (oops, there goes the CMC alpine start of 6:00AM down the toilet). Reason being, we experienced temperatures in the low twenties with moderate humidity in the air making it more difficult to move around.

Anyway, we made our way up up the Little Lakes Valley Trail and were greeted with lovely bright yellow colors of the willows and the quaking aspens. And we were also greeted by the lack of crowds this time of the year and sunny clear skies. Makes it worth coming up to the Sierra during the Fall.

We continued our hike up to Treasure Lakes and proceeded up to Dade Lake via the use trail up the gentler east side slopes of a pseudo-mesa between Treasure and Gem Lakes. I strongly recommend this way for the hike out. As we got closer to Dade Lake we could see the North ridge route on Pyramid Peak. It did not seem to look like it had sustained class 3 on it. Shawn and I did bring a 50 meter 9 mm rope and a few pieces of protection just in case the route was sandbagged toward the class 4 direction.

We started our climb from Dade Lake, following the North ridge as religiously as we could. Initially, it starts as class 2 scrambling through talus and there are a few moves of class 3 to gain a long granite bench. Then above that we were weaving through class 1 flats of terrain which turned to class 2 talus again. We aimed for the first false summit which we passed to the right, via several moves over some class 3 rock (no jugholds here). We crossed a rib and angled upward below a second false summit and headed upward toward the real summit, which is just to the south of the second false summit. there was another isolated spot of class 3 rock just below the true summit.

Finally on top and we now felt the power of the Pyramid! The view of Bear Creek Spire was marvelous and of the surrounding peaks and lakes. The climb took us 2.5 hours from Dade Lake. I found the summit register which was a small round cake tin with a few pencil leads and a small notepad in it. We signed our names, mine with the picture of the peak with the question mark on it (only my opinion of people who are obsessed with the numbers game of how many peaks they climbed instead of the quality of the experience). We decided to descend the NW face/side for the descent. We paid a penalty for that as we went down loose class two talus and scree. I recommend descending the ascent route in this case.

(I want to make a correction not in regard to R.J. Secor but to Michael Gordon's trip report in August 1999 of Bear Creek Spire. Secor's rating is accurate for this route but Gordon's account of the route is not totally correct. They allegedly made the climb in one hour from Dade Lake to the summit. Well that may not be a feasible time and I think it would take most parties at least 2 hours. Furthermore, there is not as much class 3 rock on the route as he leads you to believe and the class 3 rock that is there did not have jug holds at all in my opinion and experience).

Well we continued down past Treasure Lakes and made it down to Long Lake. We just made it back to Mosquito Flats at 7:00 PM back to the car for the LONG drive (8 hours) back to San Diego. Pyramid Peak is a good peak I would recommend for the beginning mountaineer and it is doable in a day and the exposure on the North ridge is not too intimidating at the class 3 spots and the footholds on the class 3 sections are easy to find and not loose and the . We never felt a need for the rope, but it was a good thing to have along.

Many thanks to Shawn Bailey for driving and sharing this experience with me on this trip.

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