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Pyramid South Face Slab. Not Quite.

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  • Pyramid South Face Slab. Not Quite.

    This is from an older trip that I'm just getting around to posting.

    Pictures: Slide climbing partner Claudia and I spent some time exploring around the South Face of Pyramid Peak. Our intention was to climb the slab. However we were scared off by steep smooth rock that from below appeared to be overrun by wide and long patches of map lichen. I'd had two encounters with these lichen, fortunately minor, understood the risk ..; but, I m getting ahead of myself.
    My climbing partner has had an interest this slab ever since reading Mudrat's article that appeared in Adirondac about a winter climb with Nangaparbat. Every time we are on Sawteeth, we've talked about it. Now, this summer, after revisiting several old climbs in a row we figured was time for something new.
    The adventure started when we left the trail uphill of the junction to Sawteeth and Pyramid. Never before on this stretch had I thought to look through the trees. But just looking you'll eventually get glimpses of vertical rock. A wall. It is at that point we started the bush whack that was at times through open woods and with occasionally large old blowdown trees.
    Heading to the wall we found a grassy stair-stepped climb that positioned us for a perfect head on view towards Sawteeth. Above the grassy stairs very steep bare rock that was is a wrap around extension of bulbous part of the south face. Descending we followed this to the bottom of the slab.

    At the slab, farther away, we saw a small place with flat rock. With the steep slab above, it reminded us of the Lake Placid ski jump. I suggested we go there and since it was the only flat spot in eyesight it would a good place to change to the rock shoes.

    On the way we were noticing how smooth the rock is here. And not exactly clean either. Patchy with sections of map lichen.

    It was interesting looking up hill from the base of the ski jump. Close up it looked way steep. Stepping back, not that far, less than 10 yards it looked possible that we might do this. I said we should give it go.

    So up Claudia went but it wasn't too long into that we decide to back off. Claudia didn't like the look of things. There would be more lichen ahead of us, wide patches of it. And there didn't seem to be many place to pause. We felt more exposure here than we'd had before on other climbs. And I had had two run ins with lichen like we saw here. Both on Gothics. One on each of N and S faces. Fortunately both were short but both ended in uncontrollable slides. Lucky me. I didn't get hurt.
    So we decided to back off and try the east side of the slab. We found some better rock there but it was steep. Also unrelenting. It also turned out to be wrong place to continue because we ran into wet rock and moss over a very steep wet mossy bulge.
    Feeling it might not be our day and not wanting to down climb and being near the tree line we continued the climb there. Occasionally we pushed our way to the edge of the slab but continued to find moss and wet rock. Finally spaces opened up. I went to the end of the bulbous rock, Claudia further west. We split up with Claudia staying in the open spaces. I followed the base of the very steep rock. Finally joining again, we climbed to the base of an upper headwall. From there was a way out that took us back to the a grassy dike. We followed that and it topped out with a short stretch of level land and from there we turned and started our final approach to Pyramid Peak. Along the way great views of Gothics South Face and the Basin East Face.
    Fast forward to Gothics. We decided a good way to end our day was to try two slides off the trail to Beaver Meadow Falls that are Irene slides. I suppose the two have been given names but we have our own for them. The first one we named 'Slide from Nowhere' and the second one 'Slide to Nowhere'. The Slide from Nowhere is much higher up starts just below trail. It has patches of very nice clean rock. We didn't down climb all the way to the base but from a distance you can see the rock below is still very white and probably very good rock. We plan to go back next year and maybe we'll revisit the Sabretooth slides and White slide.
    On the Slide to Nowhere, the run out cuts across the trail. We don t know if it has accumulated moss but there is some now but there is good rock up the center. On the way down from it I was in the woods and there were a couple wide moss tracks suggesting to me old slides. That is no surprise. It is steep here.
    After that it was just a walk out stopping briefly at Beaver Meadow Falls then later at the Flume.

  • #2
    Great story and glad to see you and Claudia still in search of new adventures! Anyone who has looked at the southern slabs, with the exception of Mudrat and Nangaparat and of course present company would not even consider climbing it. I know from experience even cloning the treed section is no easy task but then to hit up the "nowhere" slides on the way back, well....priceless 👍
    "Climbing is about freedom. There's no prize money; there are no gold medals. The mountains are all about going there to do what you want to do. That's why I'll never tell anyone else how to climb. All I can say is, This is how I prefer to do it."
    Ed Viesturs