Peak(s):  "Thunder Pyramid"  -  13,932 feet
Date Posted:  08/01/2020
Date Climbed:   08/01/2020
Author:  Cthulhu 2008
 Thunder Pyramid Duathlon   

With the parking situation complicated due to Covid, I decided to bike in from my favorite lot outside of Aspen at the Brush Creek/ 82 parking area. I got there in the van an hour after dark, prepped my pack and tried to turn in early. Dave and Spencer showed up as I was brushing my teeth and slept in the back of the truck. We were not too far behind schedule and pulled out with headlamps on at 5:13 am the next morning. The sun came out and we stopped once to de-layer, arriving in 1:25 to the parking lot (14.323 miles, 2,060' gain). We saw a bear right outside the parking lot, working a log on the ground for something. We dodged him through the campground and finished off the sporting approach with some gravel tracks. The lot was a little busy already, but the bike racks were open. We locked the bikes, changed shoes and doffed chamois (in the vault toilet).

Obligatory Maroon Lake Photo

We used my directions from Roach (1st Edition) and found the turnoff that led us... directly into a massive avalanche debris pile of huge trees stacked like matchsticks. This was fun at times, but also tedious and the way we did it, this might have been the most dangerous part of the day. We found a different route down which is worth finding (see topo comments below). We found the gully alternately known as "Secret Gully" and "Obvious Gully" and then contoured north to arrive at the White Gully. The climbing was easy, but the rock was looser than anything else I've been on in the Elks. Overall, this was a rather routine outing. However, I must admit that once you gain the ridge, the final short bit is blissful Class 3 ridge butter. Time for the summit was 6:37 RT from the Maroon Lake bike rack (10.73 miles, 4,790' per my Suunto). It would appear the Roach route is now longer, or my Suunto is off.

Back at the lot, it was into the vault toilet once again to slide on the chamois, then back on the bike! I was hoping to finish in under 8 hours moving (less transitions and summit sandwich and photos). The wind was not in my favor, but rather in my face. I also added some distance by tying to find and link the bike paths back to the van, so that didn't help my time either and it ended up taking me 56 minutes back to the van.

Total Distance - 39.43 miles. Moving Time - 8:04. Total Time - ~9 hours. Total Gain - 6,940'.

Secret Gully (and time to put on helmets)

We had these views of the Bells all day.


Photo Comments - From the summit, the promised views of the Maroon Bells, Snowmass and Capitol delivered. Pyramid looking north looks heavily fortified. Back off the ridge into the White Gully.


The southern route (our orange descent route in lower left corner) appears to be a new social trail avoiding the avy debris. This would be worth finding on the way up.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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