Friday, June 9, 2017

Maybird to Pfeiferhorn, June 2, 2017

Pfeiferhorn and upper Maybird Gulch.
I've always hated dawn patrols. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know they're all the rage with B.C. skiers. It's a right of passage to go roll into work stinky and sweaty at noon, then brag at the water cooler about the big-vert you skied before sunrise. For me the problem is not the early rise and little sleep, a beautiful sunrises will always compensate for the lack of zzzzz's, I just hate the 'gun-to-the-head' mindset that comes with pushing to get up a mountain before reporting to the boss. The joy of skiing is diminished when I'm watching the clock and worrying about being late for work (my work environment is not friendly to late arrivals). I really wanted to ski the Pfeiferhorn at least once this year and it hadn't worked out thus far, so today I fought down the responsible-accountant-instinct, went to work late and did my semi-annual dawn patrol. 

I had a mid-morning meeting that I could not miss but I figured it was now or never for the Pfeiferhorn, so I set the alarm for 4:00 AM and headed for LCC. My approach was the traditional White Pine to Red Pine trail and then to Maybird Gulch and it all went to plan, except I was too damn slow and did not quite make it to the summit. I had a set turn-around time which came and went as I arrived at the base of the last climb up the east face of the Pfeiferhorn. The time was late so I did the responsible thing and turned around and went to work. I was too slow but other excuses include the snow being alternately frozen then sloppy then frozen and on and on. In the summer, when the trail is snow-free and I have much less baggage (ski gear), I can get up the Pfeif in under two hours (plus one for the descent), which makes a 5:40 AM start very reasonable for a late morning ETA at work. My speed today was about half my summer rate and I came up short. With the 4:00 AM wake up call, I didn't get to the trail head until 5:30 (dressing, breakfast and drive time take time) and I wasn't hiking until 5:40. I booted up to the Maybird bridge and was in snow almost immediately after crossing LCC creek, and the snow was icy and often slick. After crossing the Maybird bridge I switched to skis and crampons and the going was faster.

Even with the day cut short, it was still a glorious day in the mountains! 

"We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aid, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn." -- Henry David Thoreau

I LOVE that previous generation had the fore-site to protect small slivers of the Wasatch, leaving it as God created it. Anyone who regularly hikes the Wasatch will come to know how little of the Wasatch still remains free of development. I'm no pot-hugging-tree-smoker, but do we really need ski lifts and condos in every last corner of our state? 

Sunrise and golden cloud over the Hogum Hogback (the Hogum-Maybird divide).

This is the bridge over Red Pine Creek which leads to Maybird Gulch. When I was a kid this bridge did not exist and when I was about 12, while hiking here with my Dad and brother under the same conditions, we reached this point and came upon two skiers returning from Hogum Fork  who were afraid to cross back over. The temperatures had heated dramatically, the creek was so fast and the snow banks so collapsible, they didn't dare attempt to cross. We (mainly my Dad and Mark) helped them across using fallen logs and ski poles. Every time I see this bridge that memory comes back to life.  

Sunrise Peak - a.k.a O'Sullivan's - (middle) and Dromedary (r - almost hidden by tree) with Tanner's Gulch between.
Monte Cristo at sunrise.

First view of the Pfeiferhorn.

Upper Maybird and the Pfeiferhorn.

Should I stay or should I go? Watching the clock and debating whether or not I can get to work on time.

Maybird/Red Pine Divide.

Checking the time . . .again.

The snow was hard and icy but never needed the Whippet.

The ridge line above is the traditional route during the summer, approaching from Red Pine, and it often turn folks around before reaching the last climb to the summit because they get spooked on the knife-edge section (right side of the photo). From down here it looks even more benign than it really is. It has never bothered me. Wish I could say that about other knife-edges, like out current spectrum of elected officials. 

The problem with hiking the Maybird route is that I can't stop taking photos.

A herd of Groots hiking in Maybird. 

As you can see, not the best skiing conditions, but it was June 2. 

The Maybird terminal moraine melting out of the snow with Broads Fork Twins, Sunrise (O'Sullivan's), Dromedary and the LCC ridge line to the north.

Tanner's Gulch across LCC from the Red Pine trail.

Red Top and White Pine Canyon above, getting green below.

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