Snowy July 4 Hike

The view above Redpine

The weather for the July 4 holiday this year was cool with intermittent rainshowers, but I decided to hike to Redpine Lake. The last time I was at Redpine was almost exactly five months ago – see post on snowshoeing from February 3 of this year. On July 4 this year, the lake was still entirely frozen over and there were plenty of backcountry skiers and snowshoers enjoying the July 4 snow above about 9,000 feet. I had the idea to at least hike to the lake and perhaps to Pfeifferhorn. I had not been up Big or Little Cottonwood Canyons since the end of ski season this year and I knew there was a massive amount of snow since people were still skiing up the road at Snowbird. I came well prepared with my ice axe and cold weather clothing. I planned at least to do some glissading on the slopes above the lake.

Still frozen in July

I reached lower Redpine Lake early enough in the day and decided to climb all the way to the ridge connecting the Redpine basin to Pfeifferhorn. The amount of snow remaining on the slopes and ridges was surprising. I have never seen so much snow at such relatively low elevations. The conditions were similar to those seen in late April or May – not July.

Pfeifferhorn choked with snow

Once I got high enough on the ridge I finally had a good view of Pfeifferhorn. The ridge and the climb up was completely choked with snow. It had also begun to rain and sleet on the ridge and I decided that it was perhaps not the best day for an attempt at the peak. So I enjoyed the views of Utah Lake, Mt. Timpanogos and back down to the valley to the north side of Little Cottonwood Canyon. The views were stunning and I had a good view of the upper basins on the southwest-facing side of the Wasatch above Draper, Utah.

A funny thing happened to me on the way back down from the ridge to the lake. I had my ice axe in hand the whole way up the snow slope in case of a slip or a mis-step. As I traversed ed the upper slope coming down from the ridge over the lake using a track of footsteps set in the snow, I looked down. I suddenly froze, panicking that I might slip in fall. It took me several minutes standing on the slope to convince myself that even if I did slip, I had my ice axe ready for a self arrest. Further, the wet summer snow would probably not allow me to slip very far anyway. I made my way back down the slope after the panic subsided and actually had some fun glissading all the way back to lower Redpine Lake.

The hike back down to the trailhead was uneventful except for the moose feeding on the willows in Little Cottonwood Creek. Unfortunately, I only got some very blurry photos of him – and I do say him since he had quite a head of moosey horns.

Coming soon…trail working in Idaho…

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