Desolation Wilderness: Pyramid Peak May 2014
Hike: Pyramid Peak via Rocky Canyon
Where: Desolation Wilderness
Trailhead: Highway 50 between Twin Bridges and Strawberry
Duration: 7 hours
Length: 6 miles
Gear: Icebreaker Women’s Everyday LS Crewe, Outdoor Research Women’s Helium Hybrid Jacket, REI Sahara Roll-Up Pants – Women’s, MSR Lightning Ascent Women’s Snowshoes 25″, Black Diamond Raven Pro Ice Axe, Arc’teryx Bird Head Toque Beanie, Outdoor Research Longhouse Gloves, Camelbak Aventura Pack, Sierra Designs Tov Down Jacket (not needed), Black Diamond Ultra Distance Trekking Poles – Pair, and Ahnu Sugarpine Waterproof Boot
Cost of Parking: Free off of Highway 50
The boyfriend and I set off this past weekend to conquer Pyramid Peak again, this time in more wintry conditions. Not really sure what to expect, we equipped ourselves with snowshoes and an ice axe. In a worst case scenario, we’d need them. In a best case scenario, we could practice some mountaineering skills and get a good workout in with the additional weight.
We decided to take the Rocky Canyon route up again because we are gluttons for punishment and we hate our lives. The trail is pretty gnarly right now. Lots of fallen trees and brush from winter covered our route. Rocky Creek is flowing with runoff, so the creek crossing is a little sketchy. On our descent, the water had risen by several inches, leading to some creative creek crossing. Some previous hikers had left cairns to follow, but they are small and easy to miss. As you gain elevation, slushy snow covers most of the trail, and then all of the trail up to about 8000′ feet. Some route finding is required, especially if it has snowed recently and covered up tracks.
Conditions were fairly warm with highs in the 70s. As you approach the summit, it gets fairly windy, but the first two miles is hot! The snow is pretty slushy with tons and tons of run-off. We had to carefully watch our steps or risk falling through the snow into the creek. The talus field up to the summit was either covered in weak snow or slick from run-off.
Snowshoes are not necessary, and neither are ice axes. At best, some good trekking poles with snow baskets and maybe some microspikes are all you really need.
Unfortunately, we did not summit due to some worsening injuries. Bit of a bummer, but we were both exhausted and our feet were soaking wet. The waterproofing of our boots absolutely failed us in the slushy snow. We’d summited this previously so we were mostly okay with turning around before our feet fell off.
We’ll get you next time, Pyramid! And next time, we’ll be able to see the lakes below us!