Skiing Colorado’s 14ers comes down to 3 things in my mind: A lot of motivation and persistence, skiing Capitol Peak and Skiing Pyramid Peak. To me those three things really make the recipe for success in the 14er project that has become so popular these last few years. For me one of the best things about having finished the goal is being less focused on particular peaks, and rather being more focused on skiing lines that look like fun.
All of that said; Landry line is without a doubt the most fun line I have ever skied in Colorado. 4,300 vertical feet of steep skiing. With the top half being extremely steep and exposed, while still usually holding great snow.
May 31st may be a bit late in the year to be skiing Pyramid, but yesterday it was still doable and the first 2,000 feet skied extremely well, with about 3-4 new inches of pow on top of a solid spring base. It made for perfect climbing conditions, and great skiing conditions down the classic line. The exit couloir was interesting on skis to say the least. The apron painted a picture of the last few weeks snowfall and warmups as it was some of the biggest avalanche debris I have ever skied through. A friend of mine the other day made a good point about skiing here, and that is that “most of the time we talk about the first couple hundred feet, so when we start talking about the first couple thousand feet being great….” can we really complain about having to deal with some haggered snow on the way out? I don’t think so.
Austin and I leave the trailhead at 1:35 AM under a clear sky, with the wind blowing in all directions. The predicted freeze at 13k tonight is somewhere between 14 and 16 degrees. The lower snowpack confirms this. After skinning from the end of Maroon lake to the base of the now familiar below treeline couloir we switch to booting and the snow is perfect for the switch. In no time we are passing the last few trees as we enter the amphitheater. This really is one of the most amazing places I’ve been. Huge ridges and walls surround us as we skin below them. After a short skin we are switching to crampons to climb up to the northeast shoulder. The booting is still the best it has been all season. We crest the ridge as the sun is really starting to light up the eastern sky.
I feel like our timing is perfect today. Looking across the face it looks a little steeper than it did 3 weeks ago, mostly due to there being slightly less snow. Again though, it is covered in a few inches of fresh pow from the day before.
We climb onward and upward towards our goal. The climbing is steep and exposed, but the boot and ax purchase is incredible, and we make solid and quick time up to the summit.
The views from the top are as usual amazing:
As we are climbing up the ridge we are able to look across and see a couple people headed up North Maroon’s apron. Later we found out of course that it was Ted Mahon and Chris Davenport, looked like fun.
It is 7:30 am. Given the new snow, we opt to drop in immediately to enjoy the powder before the sun heats it up and turns it to muck. It ends up being a great choice. The skiing is edge-able and sloughy, making for very fun turns on the down. The skiing is good all the way to the exit chute where interesting is a most severe understatement.
Out the bottom of the chute we bounce and bang our way down the avi debris on the apron. We ski all the way to the creek and turn around to admire the line. I’d always do it again personally. Crossing the creek we are able to ski the first mile or so of trail down towards the East Maroon Portal. After a bit we hit the dry trail, skis on the back we hump it the rest of the way out to our waiting car shuttle. The day really couldn’t have gone better save for the hairy exit couloir.
This video is kind of long, but it is Chest cam footage all the way through the exit chute: Right about 16:36 you watch me get sloughed by another skier.
This season just doesn’t want to seem to end, and I can’t wait til the next day out in the high country. In fact, I think that’s where I am headed right about now.