January 5, 2013

Pfiefferhorn NW Couloir

This morning in an effort to escape the valley's pea soup and get some warm sunshine again, Jared Inouye, Bart Gillespie and I climbed the Pfiefferhorn with the objective of checking out and hopefully skiing the NW Couloir.  The morning was filled with spectacular views and talks of who was winning the Nationals Rando Race at Jackson today (Turns out, our local contingent did incredible).

The Pfiefferhorn is one of the diamonds in the jewelry box of Wasatch Peaks. It affords steep skiing and is one of my favorite mountains to look at. My oldest son too loves this mountain as we hiked it this past summer together, including an overnighter. From Maybird and Hogum drainages the mountain is inspiring and seemingly larger than life.

We skinned up consolidated powder, reaching the east spine which was mostly snow covered. On the east face the snow had stiffened due to sun and wind fatigue. Once on top peering down the objective was the first thing we did.

The NW couloir was super thin on top, with a granite slippery slide the first 150 or so feet.  We entered via the exposed ridge that is skiers right of the couloir instead of down climbing the top slab.  Nope, we weren't the first ones in there this year. We wondered if we would be. Once in, the skiing above the rappel was fair, with lots of wind board snow. Each turn counted.

The rappel this time around was longer than what I have experienced in the couloir in times past. I estimate it was around 65 feet. Here the snow felt like a pool table, luckily not icy though (thank goodness as I accidentally dropped one of my poles setting the rappel anchor and it stopped about 100' below the rappel). The skiing dramatically improved below. The apron was wonderful, filled with consolidated powder.

We then moved up to the top of the Obilesk. We enjoyed the warm sun and parted ways as Jared and Bart cruised down the Hogum 200 and I exited into Maybird then over to the standard Red Pine skinner. Great morning for sure.

Jared east face Pfief

Bart descending sketchy ridge (skiers right of couloir)
Jared, top of Pfief with a thin NW Couloir below him
Bart on long rappel

Do those glasses really have leopard print on them?

Bart below the rappel
Jared, just above him the rappel
Bart, apron and the Cottonwood ridge background
The great Hogum Fork

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