Peak(s):  "Thunder Pyramid"  -  13,932 feet
Cathedral Peak A  -  13,943 feet
Date Posted:  07/18/2020
Modified:  09/12/2020
Date Climbed:   05/19/2018
Author:  bmcqueen
Additional Members:   RyGuy
 A Thunderous Hangover...Something's Fishy   

Usually, the crux of a trip occurs somewhere on the mountain. A spot you've been worried about for a while - especially on a peak like Thunder Pyramid. In this case, however, the crux of the trip turned out to be later in the evening in the nice little town of Carbondale...

The Bells

Day One - May 19, 2018
"Thunder Pyramid"
Partner - Ryan Richardson (RyGuy)
6:30 up; 10:50 car to car from Maroon Lake TH

The Climb

The #ChasingRichardson project was in full swing, but Thunder Pyramid was a peak that Ryan and I both needed. This was one of the peaks that led to the joint Centennial finish on Jagged. Ryan was eager for a partner for some of the tougher Centennials and I was game, but negotiated a change in Ryan's planned finisher from Meeker to Jagged.

As we geared up in the dark at the Maroon Lake parking lot, there were people doing the same a couple of cars down from us. As is so often the case in the snow season, it didn't take us long to realize we knew each other. Shawn Keil along with Kate and Bob Fincutter were getting ready to head up to Lightning next door to us. I knew Shawn, but it was my first time meeting Bob and Kate. We hiked together in the dark to the head of the drainage where we would both need to cross the snow bridge and start heading up the steep slopes above.

L to R - Shawn, Kate and Bob. PC Ryan.

We all put crampons on and crossed the snow bridge over West Maroon Creek without incident. This was a touch scary as our snow bridge was the last snow standing over the rushing water below! Soon after, we bid Shawn, Kate and Bob well and split off for our different planned objectives.

Guess I'm the guinea pig and going across first...
Ryan gently walks across.

One thing I love about Ryan is how thoroughly he does his research. So much so that when I am heading out with him, I have to catch myself from getting too lazy and doing absolutely none myself, just knowing that he will have all of that covered for us.

Starting up.
Ryan keeps me on route. I go up. PC Ryan.
In his element.
Len Shoemaker basin to the south.

The snow was in ideal spring condition so we made relatively easy progress up higher and higher. Ryan had us perfectly on route, so the snow led us the vast majority of the way up the peak. Where we needed to do a bit of scrambling, we found the rock to be reasonably solid (for the Elks). The views from the summit were spectacular and we looked towards Lightning to see our friends.

Solid but steep.
Joining Ryan on the ledge. PC Ryan.
That's better. PC Ryan.
This is why a lot of people opt to do Thunder as a snow climb. PC Ryan.
On the summit ridge. I give Ryan the honors for Cent #97.
Almost there.
Ryan at the summit with Pyramid on the left.
I join Ryan on top. PC Ryan.
Ryan signs in as I look for our friends on Lightning.
I never had the privilege of meeting Steve, but I know Ryan thought of him often on this day.

Snowmass & Capitol send their greetings.

Thunder is steep, but we generally felt quite secure descending on our crampons, axe in hand. I turned and faced in once or twice, but for the most part was face out. The creek crossing on the way out after our snow bridge had been baking in the sun for a few hours was a touch scary again, but the bridge held and soon we were cruising down easy terrain back to the trailhead.

Descending through a cliff band. PC Ryan.
Now that wasn't so bad.
Sure has been sunny today...PC Ryan.
That's more than a babbling brook under there. Sure hope that snow holds us one more time. PC Ryan.
Safely on the other side. Time for Pringles. PC Ryan.

The Crux

Ok, now for the discussion of the crux of this trip. I still needed Cathedral in my attempt to catch up to Ryan (he had already done it). He was open to doing it again, so we agreed to do Cathedral on Sunday after Thunder on Saturday. My wife's aunt lives in Carbondale, so we planned to stay at her house Saturday night.

They were headed to a neighbor's house for a birthday dinner and invited us along. Ryan had never met any of these people, but being a STRONG extrovert, Ryan was happy to come along. We enjoyed the views of Mt. Sopris across the way and Ryan took them up on their offer of a cold beer (but just one - we were climbing again in the morning).

Shortly before the Carbondale Crux.

Then came the fish-cident. Dinner was served. Well-prepared halibut filets with asparagus and potatoes. Ryan panicked like I've never seen him panic before. Ryan is something on a carnivore for those who don't know him. He enjoys meat. When he is finished with his meat, he is generally looking around the table to see if there is more meat. Potatoes are tolerated as a frequent accompaniment to meat. They are better in french fry form and best when also covered in some sort of meat chili sauce.

As is so often the case on the crux, Ryan was so focused on overcoming it that he didn't get any photos. I was too interested in watching this spectacle to get any photos. Here is an internet image from Williams Sonoma as a fill-in for what the crux looked like in the absence of actual photo evidence.

Dinner is served!

I tell people often that it is usually not the first mistake that bites you, but the 2nd, 3rd or 4th. Our hosts offered Ryan wine with his meal. He checked the plate in front of him once again, threw all caution to the wind and said, "yes please". The wine was his only hope. And the hot sauce he saw across the table (intended for the potatoes I think). Ryan drowned his fish in hot sauce and began working through the crux. A bite of fish, a drink of wine to wash it down. A bite of asparagus, a drink of wine to wash it down. Repeat through one plate of fish and vegetables and about three glasses of red wine. Ryan didn't say a word about his despise of fish and vegetables; only I knew at the table the pain and suffering he was enduring on the day of our climb. We finally knew the crux was over when the plates were cleared and the birthday cake came out. But the damage had been done to Ryan's fragile system.

Day Two - May 20, 2018
Cathedral Peak
Partner - kind of Ryan (he guarded the car)
4:25 to summit; 7:19 RT (4:13 AM start)

Early morning light heading up towards Cathedral

The alarm came early the next morning - it must have been about 2:30 AM in Carbondale. Ryan didn't feel so well, but managed to get himself in the car. I quit drinking in 2017 after returning from my 2nd trip to Denali, and I quite enjoy fish and vegetables, so I felt great. We drove to the Cathedral trailhead and Ryan informed me that he would need to sit this one out. Unlike Ryan, I don't mind solo hiking in the least (I'm almost as strong of an introvert as he is an extrovert). I set off at 4:13 AM to go get one Centennial closer to Ryan.

At the lake.
Ascent couloir.
Lots of avy debris.

Cathedral is usually done as a spring snow climb and it is not as steep as Thunder. I made one wrong turn in the snow down low and ended up on the Electric Pass trail for a few minutes before correcting. The rest of the climb up the spring snow went well. I turned right, zipped up the ridge to the summit, then quickly headed back down so I didn't keep Ryan waiting any longer than necessary.

Cathedral Lake from high on the peak.
Time to descend.

He had slept for a while in the car and the fish-cident was becoming more of a distant memory. We drove back home to Denver, satisfied with a safe summit of Thunder Pyramid for both of us, and the addition of Cathedral for me. I think it's safe to say that Ryan hasn't had another piece of halibut since then. Thanks for reading.

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 29 30 31 33 34 35

Comments or Questions
Cathedral is much better...
07/19/2020 20:39 a snow climb, according to this slow learner who did the scree slog up Cathedral twice before getting the hint.

Nice report and photos. That's the first time I've seen a meal as the crux!

Nice report
07/20/2020 00:06
Imo that meal looked delicious.

about time
07/20/2020 08:55
It's about time this fish story was shared with the world.

07/20/2020 20:59
Ryan needs to be a little more inventive, there must have been some way to escape without eating much of this fish. Feed it to a dog, 'accidentally' drop a bit on the floor, stuff some in your pocket to get rid of later, etc. There are always options....

Poor Ryan
07/21/2020 23:19
Your description of the €œfish-cident€ is incredible.

This trip report...
07/22/2020 11:01
...might be my favorite trip report of all time.
It has all the things I love: mountains, snow, beautiful photos, and a fish-cident. Good job, Brad!

Stupid fish...
07/22/2020 12:20
That certainly is the last time I had any fish or Asparagus thankfully.

Andrew- I was hoping there would be a begging dog, but was out of luck there and we had cloth napkins, so that wasn't an option either. I was just screwed.

cloth napkins
07/22/2020 13:25
Ryan, Obviously you're not a Seinfeld fan.... Gramma Mamma's napkins.
"The Wink" episode 114.

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