Little Pyramid - the "unnamed" beauty

Published by 360 Pro , 9 August 2016, 14h24.

Region: World » United States » California
Date of the hike:23 October 2020
Hiking grading: T5- - Challenging High-level Alpine hike
Climbing grading: II (UIAA Grading System)
Geo-Tags: USA   US-CA   Desolation Wilderness 
Height gain: 915 m 3001 ft.
Height loss: 915 m 3001 ft.
Access to start point:Wrights Lake Trail Head Parking Lot

Update October 23, 2020 see below*

June 24, 2016:
During my hike *last week I saw a mountain which caught my attention. To my surprise, after consulting the USGS topo map, I found out that it didn't have a name on any map, even though it is quite a prominent peak with a topographical prominence to its neighbor (Mount Agassiz) of at least 450 ft. However, according to locals do have a name for it: Little Pyramid, but the peak doesn't seem to get a lot of human visitors. This sounds like the perfect goal for me. I decided to approach it from Wrights Lake where possible via its extended southwest ridge and back via Island Lake and the marked trail there.

At the trailhead parking lot an army of hungry mosquitoes welcome me and I'm glad I'm wearing long sleeves and a hat! There are probably thousands or millions of these beasts in the vicinity of the lake and some manage to suck my blood, even though I am walking fast and making sudden movements all the time. As soon as I'm about half a mile away from the lake, the annoyance is over. For almost 2 miles I follow the Rockbound Trail. Instead of turning left, I then go straight following the trail towards Gertrude Lake for a little bit.

Shortly after the trail turns left again up to a saddle in the extended southwest ridge of Little Pyramid I leave the trail and walk east and somewhat up towards the ridge. Due to lots of unpleasant bushes I can't climb P. 8925 from west, but have to continue in the south flank of the ridge until I find a good bush-free way up. A little northeast of Umpa Lake I find a class 3 scramble up to the ridge. There are probably several options there and the easiest I find doesn't require a lot of scrambling, but is mostly not so pleasant scree.

Once on the ridge I try to strictly follow it all the way to Little Pyramid. It includes some fun class 3 scrambles (T5-/II), in particular at the beginning after P. 8925. The final 400ft up to the top I walk right on the ridges southern edge in order to avoid some small trees and bushes. As expected there is no summit log on this peak but a small cairn, which I enlarged a little bit. The view to the many lakes and peaks of the Desolation wilderness is fabulous and I enjoy the solitude for quite a while.

For my way back to Wrights Lake I walk down along the southeast ridge (class II, T3) to an altitude of approximately  9000 ft and then down the Island Lake in southern direction, taking the least steep route. From the east end of the lake I follow the northern shore to its west end where I find the well maintained trail (plenty of cairns lead the way) all the way back to the parking lot at Wrights Lake.

October 23, 2020:
*I did this hike again and deposited a summit register at the top of Little Pyramid. The way up and down were somewhat different and shown in the second gps track (LittlePyramid_via_TylerLake)

The differences as compared to my first hike:
  • Since the campground and therefore the Twin Lakes trailhead parking are closed later in the year, I had to start the hike at the parking lot at the south end of Wrights Lake and walk along the lake to the trailhead (which adds almost 3 miles to the hike). On the way up, I walked along the street, on the way out along the loop-trail which follows the lake and is much nicer.
  • Instead of gaining the connecting ridge between P. 8925 and Little Pyramid near P.8925 from south, I followed the hiking path to Gertrude and Tyler Lake and gained the ridge from north in direction southeast from Tyler Lake. I got to the ridge pretty much half way between P. 8925 and Little Pyramid at its lowest point (class 2, T3).
  • For my way down from the summit to Island Lake I chose a somewhat more direct route in the south flank of Little Pyramid. I first followed the east ridge for about 200 yards and then at around 9200ft dove into the south flank and went down in some tedious, steep talus to an altitude of approximately 8800ft. and from there on nice granite slabs to the middle of the north shore of Island Lake.

During my first visit I noticed the lack of a summit register and decided to bring one along the second time. On the night before the hike I saw that Bob Byrd just visited Little Pyramid in June 2020 during his hike in the Desolation Wilderness. He noted the following: "There was a coffee can for a register (the plastic lid won't keep the contents dry for long), left by the father of Ryan Shreve who died at the age of 24 in 2003. There was a copy of a BGN proposal to name the summit as Mt. Ryan, along with a petition that had a few names on it. Since the peak is in the Desolation Wilderness, it will require an act of Congress (and a congressional sponsor) for that to happen - seems unlikely."

I did find the coffee can Bob mentioned, but it's lid and content were missing. All I remembered from Bob's comments during my visit was, that Ryan's father wanted to name Little Pyramid "Mount Ryan", so I noted that "wish-name" in my register as well.

Hike partners: 360

Click to draw, click on the last point to end drawing

 30469.gpx track_6_24_2016
 50436.gpx LittlePyramid_via_TylerLake


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