A fun couple of pitches of steep running belay...
Between July 16-22, 2011, we had intended to climb Success Cleaver on the southwest side of Mt. Rainier, but after a soggy approach and a bad weather forecast starting the 20th, along with a huge and ominous lenticular cloud covering Rainier's summit we changed our plans. Instead we took advantage of the one day of decent weather on the 19th to play on the 55-degree snow coulier on the northwest side of Pyramid Peak. Pyramid is a beautiful 6,900+ft fang to the south of Success Cleaver. Normally Pyramid is climbed by scrambling up a line around the corner from the northwest slope (i.e. more on the south side of Pyramid). On Pyramid's northwest coulier we did about three pitches of running belay with pickets up to a fantastic knife-edge ridge. The total vertical gain from the bowl at the bottom of the northwest coulier to the ridge is about 300 ft.
The first two photos show us going up the coulier and onto the ridge. On the other side of the ridge is Pyramid's spectacular northeast coulier, which is much steeper, as the third and fourth photos indicate. These photos show setting up an anchor on the ridge and down-climbing a short distance down the northeast coulier to have a look; it's probably about 70 degrees and drops dramatically down about 500 feet to Rainier's Success Glacier basin. The last hundred feet above the basin is shear rock cliff, so an unprotected fall on Pyramid's northeast coulier would be very bad indeed. This little excursion provided us with an exciting mini-version of the exposure one experiences climbing Success Cleaver, so we left having had a good time despite the weather. The last photo is from a climb on Success Cleaver we did in 2009, which amplifies the "mini-version" assessment of Pyramid.
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