Wednesday, March 6, 2013

NW couloir, The Pfeifferhorn

The northwest couloir of the Pfeifferhorn has to be one of the most aesthetic lines in the Wasatch. After skiing it for the first time in a few years ago I immediately jumped on a plane to Phoenix for a residency interview. During the entire interview I couldn't stop thinking about what my friends and I had done that morning. I'm pretty sure I bombed the interview. No matter, who wants to live in Arizona anyway? 

Today Virgil, Andy and I went back to attempt the northwest again. Feeling ambitious, we left the car at the Y pull out just in case. The skin up was as beautiful as always with great morning light and a recently placed skinner. It wasn't until we got to Red Pine Lake that we saw the party ahead of us doing all the work. We followed their path and caught up just as they were summiting. I typically enjoy breaking trail but this morning I wasn't complaining.  

Virgil towards the headwall above Red Pine Lake
Andy on the last couple feet to the ridge
Virgil nearing the ridge, Red Pine Lake in the background
Traversing towards the summit

The boney upper portion of the NW, the traversing ramp in the upper left
It was quite clear that the upper portion of the NW isn't exactly in right now.  There are a few slings up there to rap into the chute proper or you can walk the ridge over to the north side and traverse in on an icy little snow ramp.  We chose the latter and felt good about bringing a whippet.

In the chute we found icy crust up high and wind effected powder through out the remainder. It wasn't the best skiing but we were there for the granite/snow combo and the alpine feel the NW has, not powder turns.  Apart from a classic ski, the NW gives perfect access into Hogum Fork. It's just a little downhill traverse and you find yourself underneath all the steep east facing lines. We debated traversing that way and heading up the Needle via the already placed skinner, but the hot sun and the desire to eat and sleep before work in the evening kept us from pressing on. Although skiing more wind hammered snow would have been great, I think the Thai food and nap were an suitable substitution.
Andy nearing our entry
Virgil on the icy entry
Virgil in the upper portion of the NW
Andy nearing the rap station
Virgil on rappel
Virgil just after the rap
Andy a little lower

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jason -
    Nice to meet you and race together (for a few seconds) at Alpental. I was hoping to pick your brain on an event here up in Canada but can't find any contact info. Do you mind dropping me a line?
    Email me at swskier (at)


    Eric Carter