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A Rookie's Tale
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A Rookie's Tale

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A Rookie\'s Tale

Page Type: Trip Report

Location: Utah, United States, North America

Object Title: A Rookie's Tale

Date Climbed/Hiked: Nov 18, 2006

Activities: Mountaineering

Season: Fall


Page By: Bassoon

Created/Edited: Dec 9, 2006 / Dec 9, 2006

Object ID: 250131

Hits: 4067 

Page Score: 91.87%  - 37 Votes 

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The Beginning..

This report certainly won't be the most intriguing mountaineering epic you've ever read, but I'm sure it'll amuse those of you who've been up in the mountains for awhile!

After being an armchair mountaineer for several years, I decided in May to leave my decidedly non-mountainous Texas home and move to Utah. I was determined to get into mountaineering, somehow. Finally, my school organized a trip to summit the Pfiefferhorn in Little Cottonwood Canyon (Salt Lake City), and I was on my way!

A lot of prep went into the trip- I found out mountaineering requires tons of equipment, especially winter mountaineering. I spent at least 3 days shopping for base layers (who needs long johns in Texas?!?!) and begging or renting the rest of my equipment. My pack, containing not only my stuff but also a huge pot, a tent, some fuel, and a snow shovel, ending up weighing over 50 lbs. Did I mention that I'd never backpacked before?

Heavier than it looks
Heavier than it looks..11/17/06

On the Trail..

Needless to say, going uphill 4 miles took a lot more time and energy than I would normally expend. We were on the trail long after the sunset and I was one of the last people to make camp. The hike in took every last bit of energy from me (I firmly blame lack of acclimatization) and the last steps were an exercise in mental strength. It was all I could do to change clothes and try to get warm the rest of the night, which I hated because I didn't feel like I was doing my part. But, man, was I wasted.

On the trail..
Red Pine Lake Trail at sunset 11/17/06

The Next Morning

Good morning!
Taking a break from struggling with my double plastic boots 11/18/06

The next morning, I felt much better. We took our sweet time getting ready and got on the trail (rather, started breaking trail) around noon. We had planned to go to Upper Red Pine Lake and learn mountaineering skills that afternoon, go to bed early, wake up around 1:30am and start our summit push at 3am Sunday morning. We made such good time Saturday, though, we decided to go ahead and try for the summit (besides, we couldn't bear the thought of going back up the same trail again on Sunday.)

Up the Ridge..

Everything was fine 'till we started working our way up the ridge above Upper Red Pine Lake. There, the snow was like sugar. We spent much time slipping and sliding, using our ice axes to help us up the slope. The top bit was dicey enough that we roped up and had our leader belay from above. Rope travel is difficult in itself, with people jerking you if you move too slow or fast. We also had to climb over several protruding rocks. This took a lot of energy and was really difficult for me, considering I'm used to wall climbing and tight rock shoes (and no pack!)

Up the ridge
Nate, our fearless leader, breaking trail 11/18/06
Going up
Taking a break from battling with sugary snow 11/18/06
Rope Travel
Rope travel over the rocks 11/18/06


After much panting and one case of the "screamies" (hands warming up) that left me in tears, we got atop the ridge. It was nearly sunset and at least another 2 hours to the summit. I knew I didn't have the energy to go for it, so four of us decided to enjoy the sunset and then return to camp. The summit party ended up returning shortly, deciding the snow would make the ascent too difficult. We slid, fell, snowshoed, and downclimbed our way down in the dark, finally making it back to camp. This time I was more alive, so I pitched in with cooking (tortilla soup-yum!). It took forever to fall asleep that night- it didn't help that our tent (with 3 bodies in it) was 27 degrees at one point.

The Pfiefferhorn at sunset
Sunset on the Pfiefferhorn 11/18/06
View of Timpanogos
Distant view of Timpanogos 11/18/06
It s cold!
So very, very cold 11/18/06

The End..

The next morning we longed for a place without snow, so we packed up quick and snowshoed/flew down the trail, taking 2 hours down what had taken over 5 hours to get up. My boots, which had been great all weekend, decided to give my feet hell the last half mile and I limped away from the trip with physical reminders of the trip. :-)

At the time, the trip was absolute hell 90% of the time. It was exhausting, painful, boring, and cold. But that all faded away, and I'm left with memories of being somewhere no one else has been (at least, this season), doing something most can't imagine, in a stunning setting. Next up, Everest. :-)

If you want to see some more pics, try going here: http://new.photos.yahoo.com/album?c=bassoon_ha&aid=576460762344680892&pid=&wtok=mh4_eEnr0p_vcuGPt7asng--&ts=1164176942&.src=ph


The Pfiefferhorn at sunsetView of TimpanogosGood morning!Atop the ridgeIt\'s cold!The routeHeavier than it looks
Up the ridge


[ Post a Comment ]
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Voted 10/10

on your first trip report, a fun read. Could you label your pics though, use the pic to tell a little bit about the story and put a date on it. Thank you for sharing your experience and congrat's on your effort, this stuff can become very addicting and no doubt you will return to finish off the Pfeifferhorn. I love those mountains around Salt Lake, a great area to hike, ski and climb in.
Posted Dec 9, 2006 4:02 pm

BassoonRe: Congrat's


Hasn't voted

Thanks for the advice, Dean. I went back and labeled the pics- hope that makes story more interesting. I agree that the mountains here are stupendous.
Posted Dec 9, 2006 7:52 pm

DeanRe: Congrat's


Voted 10/10

That does indeed help. I've camped at the lake but we didn't have the time to climb the Pfeiferhorn. I love skiing up in the Alta/Snowbird area and I had a chance to climb AF Twin this summer.
The Pfeiferhorn is still on my list along with Lone Peak.
Posted Dec 9, 2006 9:01 pm



Hasn't voted

I'm new to this too. Would you mind telling me what gear you brought on your trip? I was thinking of doing some winter hiking.
Posted Dec 9, 2006 5:28 pm

Bob SihlerWecome to SP

Bob Sihler

Voted 10/10

And thanks for sharing. We all had our starts, and even if yours wasn't the most comfortable, it seems you're no worse for wear and ready for more. See you on Everest!
Posted Dec 9, 2006 7:26 pm

BassoonRe: Wecome to SP


Hasn't voted

I know a large part of it was that I'm not physically ready yet- but I will be!
Posted Dec 9, 2006 7:53 pm

YetiRookie gets her stripes


Hasn't voted

A tip for easier travel: Pack light. ;) The forums are a resource, so poke around and see where you can save weight. I doubt I could have gone that far with 50 lbs.
Congrats and welcome to the madness.
Posted Dec 12, 2006 12:52 pm

aemterNice work!

Voted 10/10

A good read. Being from North Dakota, I had to chuckle at the comment about the "cold" 27 degrees in the tent! Your thick Texas blood will thin out eventually! :)
Posted Dec 12, 2006 3:08 pm

HalikuWelcome to the club...


Voted 8/10

Congrats on surviving your outing and enjoying it. Let the gear accumulation begin!
Posted Dec 12, 2006 3:48 pm

stesteOne question......


Voted 10/10

.... in your profile page I've seen you are a musician. So, why you hadn't a guitar in you back pack ? ;-)
Congratulations for your trip and for the report. I like it.
But, above all, for your carring performance. Only sherpas can do better.
Posted Dec 12, 2006 8:15 pm

BassoonRe: One question......


Hasn't voted

Probably because I'm a bassoonist. Aside from the cold, there are one too many jokes involving bassoons (aka faggots) and fire to make me comfortable bringing my bassoon on a camping trip! Thanks for the wonderful comment.
Posted Dec 13, 2006 9:08 am

stesteRe: One question......


Voted 10/10

I see, I see. Let your bassoon warm at home and thank God you're not a double-bass player mountaineer ;-)
Posted Dec 13, 2006 5:59 pm

BlairGreat Job Heather!


Voted 10/10

I enjoyed reading this! Looking forward to more stuff by you!
Posted Dec 12, 2006 11:07 pm

versed88You Go!!!

Voted 8/10

As a southerner who loves to climb...I feel your pain! There really aren't any mountains or any elevation to speak of in the South. But, just give it some time. It'll get easier. ;)
Posted Dec 13, 2006 2:04 am



Hasn't voted

You've learned the first lesson of mountaineering - it is CONSTANT sufferring for a few futile moments of beauty. Start running- get yourself in the BEST physical and cardio shape you can! that is the key! It makes the romp less painful (although still painful).. and you can go faster and farther and still have energy to make camp. Go every weekend!
Posted Dec 13, 2006 5:19 pm



Voted 9/10

lol 27 degrees aint cold!

hehe jk, inspiring story=)
Posted Dec 13, 2006 6:43 pm

Travis AtwoodNice job

Travis Atwood

Hasn't voted

Nice report Bassoon and welcome to Utah! The Pheifferhorn is one of my personal favorites.
Posted Dec 13, 2006 9:05 pm



Voted 10/10

...and thanks for the report! A good read--the honesty and enthusiasm is refreshing! As someone already said, "Welcome to the madness!"
Posted Dec 14, 2006 5:21 am



Hasn't voted

Nice report, made me smile and think about my first time (not like I am a seasoned veteran by any means yet : ) ), up Long's peak was the most miserable day of my life....and when I got back I could not wait to do it again. No matter how miserable it is that sunrise up high makes it all worth it. Good luck in your future climbs.
Posted Dec 14, 2006 9:22 pm



Hasn't voted

What is the group you went with? I am in the same boat you were - I want to break into mountaineering, but don't know a lot of people to go with. If you would rather PM me your response - no problem.
Posted Dec 17, 2006 8:30 am

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