The occasional peakbagger : Pfeifferhorn

After spending a lot of time reading trip reviews and researching, I decided to give this iconic Wasatch peak a shot. I have a few other peaks in the Wasatch and Uintas under my belt already, but with my aging body and bad knee I wasn’t certain I could make it to the top. of this one. It was definitely challenging but as it turned out it was not beyond my reach.

The trip begins in Little Cottonwood Canyon at the White Pine Trailhead (40.5752 -111.68135) at an altitude of 7,675 feet.  There’s a good amount of parking and well maintained vault toilets here. It’s a popular location, with routes to Red Pine lake, White Pine lake, and Maybird Gulch all starting here.  About .9 miles up the trail is another trailhead where the route to White Pine and Red Pine diverge. Finding. the trail to Red Pine can be a bit confusing; its basically behind the trailhead sign. Luckily, this is the only confusing junction. The trail to Maybird gulch is another 1.6 miles up the trail and well marked as it crosses Red Pine Fork creek over a footbridge. Just keep headed on up past the bridge toward Red Pine Lake, which lies another .8 miles ahead at 9,700 feet

I’d been snowshoeing to Red Pine Lake already at the end of 2017 (Red Pine Lake 12/7/2017) and knew that the route to the Pfeifferhorn was beyond. It’s incredibly gorgeous in winter and one of my favorite areas for snowshoeing.

Red Pine Lake Trail – December 2017

I had not been beyond the South end of the lake until this latest trip, but I had roughly located the junction at the South end of Red Pine Lake that leads to upper Red Pine lake. The trail climbs another 300 feet to an elevation of 10,050 feet over less than 2000 feet to reach a ridge to the Southwest of upper Red Pine Lake. It seems like there are actually several trails through this small stretch but they all go more or less the same way. Once you arrive, it’s not immediately obvious which way to go… or maybe it is but it seems unreasonable.

Yeah, that’s basically the way you need to go.

There are trails on either side of this ridge and trails following the ridgeline and they’ll all take you to the top of the ridge. If I had to recommend one, I’d choose the trail that runs up the North side of the ridge for the lower half and to stick to the South side for the upper stretch. It’s a really steep climb over loose dirt and talus and I was  really happy to have my hiking poles for this stretch.  The gratification is instant though, opening up some terrific views of the Red Pine basin and Utah Valley from about 10,020 feet.

Utah Valley from the ridge above Red Pine Lakes

The next stretch is mercifully mild, but only lasts for about 1,200 feet or so. Once you crest a small rise in the ridge it reveals a rocky ridge that requires a scramble to cross. It’s a bit intimidating but honestly not a tough scramble to cross. Once you’re across this ridge it’s an intense climb to the top.

The final stretch
Utah Lake from Pfeifferhorn Peak
Box Elder Peak and Mt Timpanogos from Pfeifferhorn

You can see more about this trip on GAIA GPS or on Ramblr


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