Peak(s):  Pyramid Peak  -  14,029 feet
Date Posted:  05/23/2016
Date Climbed:   05/21/2016
Author:  mojah
 Hanging up the Landry   

Motha Fkin Pyramid Ski

Landry Line ski descent
~5,500' Vertical
~9.5 Miles
~13 hours round trip

Summit Pano

Midnight between Friday and Saturday. There was a big group getting ready to head out of the parking lot. I had scheduled a 2 AM start for Pyramid on Saturday, but now I was up after about an hour of sleep. I try to sleep through it, but by the time they leave at around 1, I'm still wide-eyed. Damn it. Might as well get going too, burning perfectly good moonlight. So I'm up and on the trail by about 1:30.

By the time I'm a ways up the couloir leading up to the amphitheater, I'm kinda worried I didn't get an earlier start. The snow hadn't frozen as hard as I'd have liked, and wallowing up was slow and exhausting. I had planned on dropping in no later than 9:30 and now I was worried that would be too late. I decided I'd go as far as the ridge, reevaluate snow conditions and just drop back into the amphitheater if I was behind. I watched a group of headlamps across the valley as I climbed. Being on another solo trip, it was nice to see other signs of people making their way up, even if they're miles away.

When I get into the amphitheater proper, I spot some skin tracks. Shouldn't have been surprised I guess, but I thought everyone was in the group on the other side of the valley, as there was no booter up the couloir. Couple of smarter fellows than me I guess. I supposed they skinned up following the standard route. With the soft snow, it was certainly the smarter move. Maybe that means there'll be a booter I can poach the rest of the way

I reach the headwall at the end of the amphitheater and transition into crampons. Luckily, the snow was a bit firmer here and I quickly find said booter I was hoping for. Halfway up, the first rays of light hit the spectacular north face.

Purple skies above the Amphitheater


A bit of an aside here, but I never really understood why people get so upset about when a trench or bootpack gets "poached." It certainly saves a lot of energy, so I guess I somewhat do understand. Shamelessly, I ride this gravy train all the way to the summit. With a strict timetable, it'd be silly not to. The way I see it, I've set a lot of booters and skintracks alone (which hopefully eventually got used), so I'm cashing in on a bit of karma

Pyramid poacher

Many Elks

I top out at ~13,100' on the ridge proper at 6:30, well ahead of my 9:30 drop-in schedule. I hear some people yelling across to each other (or maybe to me I had thought). It took a bit of looking, but I spot a couple of skiers at ~13,600'. A short ways along the ridge, I see another skier below the ridge looking like he was going to turn around. I continue the poacher and intersect with the others I had seen earlier on their way down. One of them is Eric (Gueza) and I don't catch the other's name. They opt to pass on the full Landry Line descent and ski back to the ridge with their buddy and down the amphitheater. I reach the summit shortly after at 8:15.


Looking back



Summit Pano

I try not to linger too long on the summit knowing how soft the snow already was on the ridge. I drop in 15 minutes after topping out. I carefully sideslip down the upper ~200' of firm snow until conditions improve lower down. Despite reaching the summit earlier than my initial goal, I still think I was cutting it close. The further down I got, the slough from each turn made it difficult to link more than a couple at a time. This very careful skiing and slough management made the descent relatively slow-going. I was pretty gripped until I got down past the exit chute, so not many pictures. The exit was filled in just enough to keep my skis on snow. Well, mostly. Under the thin layer of snow, the runnel was ice, and my tips (just the tips) were scraping the walls.

Holy Guacamole!

Across the east face

So far to go

Just above the choke

Oh boy

Ice is fun

Below the choke, I can finally relax! But now the avy debris. A bit of traversing around and I find clean sections that made for decent skiing. By the time the snow ran out at ~10,400', it was slush. Par for the course I guess.


Manky shit

Doesn't look so big

I put my trail runners on and make my way back to the trail where it was either postholing in sneakers or walking in ski boots. I choose to deal with the cold wet feet instead of hiking in plastic armor. True to spring skiing, the exit sucked. It never seems worth it when you have to hump your skis down the trail on your back. Still, nothing I've done yet compares to skiing one of that most classic ski descents in North America

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Yeah Jomah!
05/23/2016 21:46
Glad you were able to get this!

05/23/2016 22:35
Another classic. Congrats. You are really racking them up this season. Keep it going . . .

Shatner of the Mount
05/24/2016 00:09
That sticker just makes me so happy. BTW, didja know JK was up there Sat am? but he turned around, I think he was behind you, must've missed the snow window.

I love that sticker!
05/24/2016 08:03
Jordan & lodgling - Thanks!
Annalise - The 3rd skier I saw may have been him. I can't imagine anyone else followed behind me

poaching a bootpack
05/24/2016 08:39
Doesn't count as a ski descent if you poach the bootpack.

Great TR, considering doing this, this weekend, but might opt to do the ridge back to the saddle and down the north amphitheater, aka the Dawson Line, instead of doing the full line since it's so manky and sketch down low. It was good to hear someone else do that too.

05/24/2016 11:25
Landry: Too early you're dead, too late you're dead. Glad you managed that intermediate mode!

I'm with Eric and Schralp on the return to the ridge... at this point, that might be the way to go. I'll have to ask my splitty friend what he did yesterday. I may have to wait till next year to get the complete line like you. I have much less tolerance to ice and avy slide grundle than most now.

more beta please
05/24/2016 13:02
If you get any more beta Otina, let me know, should be a fun time up there this weekend.

05/24/2016 19:56
I agree, north faces are the way to go right now, unless we get another big storm. I was hoping the area got at least a little new snow, but no such luck.

Well done!
05/25/2016 08:37
Precise threading of weather window level = expert. The rest of the range looks to be holding decent (but warm) snow eh?

Oh man.
05/25/2016 10:28
I just fell in love again. Something uncomfortable is goin' on, anyways.

Origins of the Great Bootpack Conspiracy: When the winter 14er deal first came into "popular" play here several years back, a couple notorious climbers, one of whom is now deceased and another is still climbing Big, would frequently shotgun message several other winter climbers to figure out their plans. However, they would never join the other climbers once hearing their plans, yet, week after week, they could be found cherry-pickin' the most juicy morsel the very next day. It got so bad that people would refrain from so much as logging an LOJ tick until after the next storm. It snowballed from there to a casual off-hand criticism. That's how that particular horror story goes, anyways. Keeps the kids up at night.

double dipping
05/25/2016 15:33
We used to call that double dipping back on the old TGR days.

05/25/2016 18:36
Such a sick line. Amazing work.

05/26/2016 14:02
There's nothing quite like the Laundry. At least nothing else I've skied. The choke looks particularly spicy right now. Well played.

05/26/2016 19:27
we "descended" it yesterday. Beautiful day and fun experience... but, I would not recommend it right now- there is more rewarding skiing to be found- most likely on more norther aspects with less avy debris. conditions update:
some pretty spicy mixed spots on the ascent
I chose the word "descended" because I have a hard time calling it skiing when we side-slipped so much of it.
From the tracks, I'd say 20 people have skied it in the last week
At the choke - going right it is not skiable, someone had already left a sling and ~30m of 5mm. We rappeled on this, then did another 30m on our own cord leaving a rap-link tied to the end of the upper 5mm
from the bottom of the choke it is avalanche debris almost all the way to snowline and a few hours of hiking out

My underwear is in the landry now
05/26/2016 20:43
Unbelievable ski. How steep is that? It's got to be at least 60 degrees.

Landry, laundry
05/28/2016 07:41
mtnfiend - I wouldn't call it expert, since it wasn't the best conditions. But yes, the snow is certainly warm on eastern aspects
Ryan - That's fantastic
PaliKona & Carl - Thanks!
catsh16 - Certainly sounds spicy! I recall the sling, but not a 5mm
CreekRunner - Didn't break out an inclinometer, but there were several sections of low to mid 50s I think, and maybe one or two turns approaching 60. I'm not very good at eyeballing slope angle

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