March 22, 2020

Pfeifferhorn North Ridge

One of the first Wasatch peaks to captivate me while I was quite young, rises like a tooth above Maybird Lakes. This peak sees far too much traffic these days in the summer time and can lose its luster due to the hammering it takes by people. However, this treasure in the winter still embraces my mind with possibilities and freedom. I have been on it over 30 times I suspect in my life. Each time the view and energy it supplies is special.  In the winter however, the Pfeifferhorn takes on its full potential. Especially the north aspects of this mountain make it feel like a true treasure. I hate to even write this for fear it pushes people more towards it's realm of power. However, the mountains are not mine, but treasures to be cherished and cared for by us all. 

Yesterday at 7:20 AM, Jason Dorais and I left White Pine T.H. and skinned up above Maybird Lakes and cast our eyes on our objective as the sun was casting a dimension of unique mountain light. The North Ridge is a true alpine experience for the experienced, prepared traveler. Not to be taken lightly, this ridge has it all. Exposure, steep granite, high consequence travel, including avalanche risk. It is highly aesthetic and a magnet for the alpinist. This is where we were headed.

The last snow fall was late Thursday night. It came in perfectly, stable and clinging to the steepest of slopes. We headed up the couloir, able to skin nearly the entire way. Most parties would boot, but we were able to set a beautiful skinner about 100 feet below the top. We booted from here. The couloir is about 55 degrees in pitch.  Reaching the ridge, we found loose, freshly fallen snow on the steep granite. Donning the crampons and ice tools we carefully worked our way sans rope up the first buttress. I watched Jason move smoothly, like an artist up the highly insecure rock. We moved well, reaching the platform and then up the west facing ramp that held snow, making the rock movement more precarious. From the top of the couloir to this point is all high consequence travel in lose snow conditions.

The ridge then takes on a steep airy pitch with a few cruxy moves. We went without a rope and felt secure, albeit a fall would be catastrophic. It's advisable to use a rope and set gear.  Ice tool in hand, crampons front pointing along the way made for fun exposed travel. We then booted up the east hanging snowfield to the top. It was spectacular route! It had been many years since I last did this route.

We chose to descend the North West Couloir, which we both have done many times. It skied probably among the best I have ever had it. The snow was completly latent in activity about a foot and half of fresh snow! The rappel this go round was about 45 feet. Last month it was closer to 60 feet.  We then enjoyed incredible skiing all the way to the main trail. Another wonderful journey with JD! 

The NR
Topping out of the Couloir. Here we go Ridge.
Jason starting up the ridge, Artisan
At the Platform, heading to the West Ramp (ahead of Jason)

Jason top of Ramp- I love this photo!

Me along the Ramp
Nearing the Crux. Incredible position
The crux
Jason moving to the last section of rock
Jason near the top
Jason ripping the NW Couloir uppper section

Me enjoying incredible snow below the Rap
Jason rushing into Hogum Fork

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