Snowshoeing to the East Ridge of Pfeifferhorn

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This was an amazing hike! I will do it again before the winter is over. We started at the White Pine Trailhead about 3 miles up Little Cottonwood Canyon. It was a beautiful day and a lot of crosscountry skiers and splitboarders were already on the trail.

My friend and I don’t have splitboards, so on our backs were regular snowboards, and on our feet were snowshoes. We began hiking on a well beaten path that had seen a fair amount of trekking gear in the last few days.

We headed south for a long while as we rose higher in elevation and the Salt Lake City inversion became more and more prominent as our angle of perception changed. Soon, we entered the canyon and all we could see were sharp granite ridges towering above through small gaps in the trees.

We passed many people traveling up and coming down as we made our way up the narrow canyon and above the tree line. The ridge we were about to climb finally presented itself. We crossed a large, frozen, snow-covered lake before starting upwards.

The slope started out gradual and continued to get steeper as we climbed. After sometime, we could make out a few pair of skis lodged in the snow, pointing toward the sky. We closed in on them and soon realized why they had been abandoned.

The slope was dangerously steep and a bit intimidating in the snow. If I had been on crosscountry skis, I would have abandoned them as well. Luckily, the snowshoes I was wearing had a nice, prominent prong on the toe that gave me similar traction to a crampon.

With my toes and and hands, I scurried up the sharp incline and finally reached the ridge. It was amazing!! The view was open to the South West and the sun shown down on us as it set into the inversion that coated the city below.

It was at this point that I realized we didn’t have enough time to summit Pfeifferhorn. It rose above us to the west and was at least 45 minutes out of reach. It would have been an easy hike along the ridge to the steep North East face of the peak. I could see people coming down it on hands and feet, similar to the way I had just reached the ridge where I currently stood.

I knew I was capable, and I wanted to move on and reach the goal I had set. But the sun glared at me from just left of the summit. It mocked me as the sky filled with pinks and oranges of a beautiful sunset.

I took in the view and accepted that there was not enough daylight to make it to the top and return safely. My friend and I moved up the ridge and found a nice line down the rocky cliffs of the East ridge we stood on. We strapped on our snowboards and bombed the steep cliff, flying through untouched powder until we hit the lake that looked like a puddle only minutes before.

We hiked across the lake and reached the trail we had come up. We mounted our boards once again and flew down, through the beautiful snow-covered cliffs and trees and reached the parking area just as it became too dark to see in front of us.

I realized we had made the right call in heading back when we did. The hour-long ride was well worth the hike to the ridge, and the light had lasted just long enough for us to return. It was a good day.

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