Monday, September 22, 2014

Pfeifferhorn (My 1st Worthy Alpine Ascent)

The phone rings, my father-in-law says go to REI and buy yourself an ice-axe.  Were going to climb the Pfeifferhorn in the Wasatch Mountains.  Sounds like a good idea to me.  What if I don't even know what an ice-axe is used for?  You'll learn.

The morning starts early as we park our car up Little Cottonwood Canyon at Red Pine Fork.  Up Red Pine we go with our snow shoes.  It was may so the temperature was quite moderate.

As we approached the top of the drainage, the surroundings became more "alpine" as the trees started to dissappear quickly in favor or rocks, snow and ice.

Looking down Red Pine towards Little Cottonwood with the mighty "twin peaks" in the background.

The climb up the steep slope to the "proper" base of the mountain was quite steep but luckily the snowpack was still quite stable and therefore required little "post-holing"

Amazing that several million people live within minutes of this beautiful place!

John B taking in the marvelous scenery and loving the moment

Almost time to kick into "technical" ice-axe mode and start the technical ascent

Looking over at Timpanogos.  Oh how I would love to climb that mighty mountain the winter someday (and I did :))

Almost to the base of the "Pfeiff"

Let's git this done already....

John B making his way up the steep vertical base of the "Pfeifferhorn"

Behold the great summit!

The maiden voyage of the REI mountain AXE.  The first of many to come...

Monday, March 31, 2014

Mt. Timpanogos (Everest Ridge in the Winter)

In preparation for our (Judd and myself) upcoming summer climbing trip to Russia, he thought it would be a good idea to test a few mountaineering skills on a local mountain.  Most people climb this mountain from east side during the summer months (sometimes several hundred BYU students a day with their lovers).  I would think if your trying to get the chicks, you should give this route a try.  We decided to climb it's west facing (as seen from I-15) icy slopes in the frozen and dark cold of winter.  Considering we saw absolutely no one and no tracks, my guess is only a few people summit during an entire winter.

We started the climb @ approx. 9PM sunday evening with our headlamps and a light rain in Utah county.  The reason for climbing in middle of the night is merely for safety.  The snow is much more stable and less likely to break apart or avalanche for that matter.  Crampons and ice-axe were a must.  The sun started to rise just as we finished climbing the "step" to the ridge.  This was perhaps one of the most frightening 60 minutes of climbing in my life.  A single wrong move would have sent me sliding 3000 feet over snow and rocks down a 75 degree slope.

In case you should ever feel the need to climb Timpanogos in the winter, I've highlighted in RED our actual boot prints in the snow.  This is the way to get yourself off the 10 hour stairmaster and onto the ridge.  Make sure to use caution as there are many bad things that could happen here.  Keep in mind it was pitch black while were doing this except for the lights of the entire Utah valley below.

Once on the ridge, it was a delicate and gingerly walk to the summit.  The ridge lines had cornices blown west to east that in some places were a good 15 feet long.  Definitely didn't want to get too close to the edge as a cornice breaking could be the size of a large house.

Judd deep in thought and snow. Where's the skis when you need them.

The summit is on the far left hand side.  This gives you an idea of what the ridgeline looks like as your navigate your way to the summit.

I think this was Judd's 3rd time up there in the winter

This was my 3rd time on the summit but the 1st in the middle of winter.  I will definitely conquer this one again as it's a very challenging adventure in my own backyard.