You are here

Max slope angle
45+ Degrees
Primary aspect
North facing
Vertical descent
3,764.00 ft (1,147.27 m)
Distance
10.00 mi (16.09 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Standing tall at 11,300 feet on the ridgeline making up the southern end of Little Cottonwood Canyon, the Pfeifferhorn is a true monarch of the Wasatch Mountains. Dubbed the “Little Matterhorn," this peak is absolutely striking and is in a class of its own in the Wasatch. Many people hike this peak in the summer, but to summit in winter and ski off the summit is truly special and will be a memorable ski for absolutely anyone.

Skiing off the summit of the Pfeifferhorn is no joke and should be taken very seriously. Close to 4,000 feet of climbing is required to summit, including a 500-foot bootpack at the end that is not for those afraid of heights. From the summit, there are several ski descents available, the most famous being the northwest couloir, which requires a rappel about halfway through the couloir.

To begin, park at the White Pine Trailhead in Little Cottonwood Canyon. This can be a crowded trailhead, but it shouldn't be too hard to find parking. Start skinning up the obvious trail and skintrack. It would be incredibly rare to have to break trail here, so do not fear, the skintrack will be there. Follow the track up until it splits. The right split takes you to Red Pine Lake, which is a beautiful destination and on the route up to the Pfeifferhorn. Skin up to the lake. By this point you will have done about 2,000 feet of climbing and are just over halfway to the top. This is a long climb. Continue up past the lake to the obvious ridgeline dead ahead.

Once on the ridgeline you will be able to see the Pfiefferhorn for the first time. Intimidating. Not only is the summit cone massive, but you will realize that there is still quite a bit of hiking to do. From this point, the bootpack begins. Put your skis on your back and start traversing the ridgeline. The bootpack meanders around rocks while steadily maintaining your elevation until you reach the summit cone. Once at the base of the cone, climb the bootpack all the way to the summit. The bootpack is typically put in on the northern side of the face and is not for the faint of heart. While the bootpack has plenty of space on either side, the right side is very close to a major cliff band and should be hiked with extreme caution. While it would be hard to fall here, a fall would be catastrophic.

Once on the summit, take in the absolutely amazing views of Timpanogos, Lone Peak, and Upper Little Cottonwood. There are few mountain views like this in Utah. To return, it is easiest to ski back the way you hiked up. The northwest couloir runs directly off the summit and is a top-five line in Utah; however, it requires a rappel and good snow conditions to ski. Unless you have the gear and knowledge to ski a line like the northwest couloir, it is best to return the way you came. While skiing back along the skin track is very fun, this adventure is more about the climb than the ski.

To execute this skiing adventure, it is paramount to have a high level of fitness and backcountry skiing ability. The ski directly off the summit is very steep no matter which way you cut it. There are cliff bands everywhere. Be careful and be safe, and this will be a ski to remember!  

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Great hike. Amazing views. Different descent options.

Cons

Crowded trailhead.

Pets allowed

Not Allowed

Trailhead Elevation

7,600.00 ft (2,316.48 m)

Highest point

11,300.00 ft (3,444.24 m)

Total elevation gain

3,764.00 ft (1,147.27 m)

Net Elevation Gain

3,764.00 ft (1,147.27 m)

Features

Wildlife
Big vistas

Trail type

There-and-back

Access

Hike-in

Typically multi-day

No

Shuttle required

No

Terrain type

Chutes

Snowmobiles allowed

No

Drinking water

Snowmelt

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest
Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Comments

Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.