Ascent of Pyramid Peak on 2019-10-28

Climber: Alex Lennon

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Monday, October 28, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Pyramid Peak
    Elevation:6703 ft / 2043 m

Ascent Trip Report

The west ridge route ended up being both a lot more challenging, and a lot more rewarding, than I had suspected it would be. Coming from Furnace Creek, I parked shy of the 'summit' of the highway leading east out of Death Valley, at the point where the west ridge comes closest to the road. I hiked up a wash where I encountered about 12 head of bighorn sheep, and beyond, several options confronted me for gaining the ridge. Ahead of me I could see the false summit of Pyramid, quite an impressive peak in its own right. Below the false summit was a large gully which looked to be 5th class in places. I climbed the ridge on the climber's right side of this gully, which after a loose start proved to be extremely enjoyable class 2 and 3 scrambling over solid rock for hundreds of vertical feet. From the top of this ridge, a loose traverse with mild exposure led me below a cliff band and across several sub-ridges to a saddle south of the false summit.

As you may suspect by this description, the west ridge of Pyramid is highly complex and has many variations, most of which require significant route finding. Know that before embarking on this route. From the saddle, follow the ridge up to the false summit, staying to climber's left to avoid any craggy areas and a few large gendarmes. This route to the false summit goes at 4th class. From the road, I made it to the false summit in 5 hours. (This route is committing time-wise too!) The views all along this route, but especially from the false summit and beyond, are spectacular. It took me another hour+ and a decent bit of additional scrambling to reach the true summit of Pyramid. The views up here are truly spectacular- of course the Panamints dominate across the valley, and the Funeral Mountains spread out below you, among the most desolate ranges I have ever been in. Charleston dominates to the east, and Mount Whitney was visible as well to the west, still snow-free. Descending the southeast ridge was a lot more straightforward, and once down I slogged back to my car. I was initially drawn to this peak because of its prominence, but this ended up being an extremely high-quality desert adventure and I'm very glad I didn't pass up the chance to explore this remote mountain range.
Click on photo for original larger-size version.
Pyramid Peak's true summit as viewed from its false summit during an ascent of the long and spectacular west ridge route. Charleston Peak is visible in the distance (2019-10-28). Photo by Alex Lennon.
Click here for larger-size photo.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4800 ft / 1463 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1000 ft / 304 m
    Route Conditions:
Open Country, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:4800 ft / 1463 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 3800 ft / 1159 m; Extra: 1000 ft / 304m
    Loss on way in:1000 ft / 304 m
    Route:West Ridge
    Start Trailhead:2903 ft / 884 m
Descent Statistics
    Route:Southeast Ridge

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