The Beatout (Pfeifferhorn to Bell’s Canyon)

The Beatout
14 miles
5700+’ gain
12 hours car-to-car
Class 3

The Beatout is a Wasatch Mountain Club classic ridge traverse – known for being one of the longest, toughest hikes typically done in the Wasatch.

I started in Red Pine with a WMC group at around 7:20 AM on Saturday. We made decent time to the lake (~1 hr) and then proceeded up the headwall to Pfeifferhorn ridge.

Red Pine Lake

At this point, I took a slightly higher line than the use trail and bagged Little Pfeifferhorn. Good views from here with little effort.

Pfeifferhorn’s NE face from Little Pfeifferhorn

Soon we reached the (in)famous Knife Edge approaching Pfeifferhorn’s East Ridge.

The Knife Edge
Scrambling the knife edge (really not that bad)

We topped out and started down the opposite ridge to continue the Beatout towards the unnamed peak west of Pfeifferhorn (UPWOP Peak).

Summit shot on Pfeifferhorn
Heading down Pfeifferhorn
Pfeifferhorn’s imposing West Face

The views of Pfeifferhorn are outstanding from this part of the ridge – a unique side of the mountain not visible from anyplace else. Next we reached the summit of Upwop and continued down the other side to Chipman Peak.

Chipman Peak

This part of the trip was the most challenging scramble of the day – some boulders are stacked up precariously so be on the lookout, but in general the rock is excellent in quality and the scrambling is fun. The exposure can largely be avoided.

Lightning Ridge

From here Lightning Ridge forms the remainder of the route to South Thunder mountain. It looks worse than it is, but it sure is impressive.

Looking back towards Upwop
Scrambling toward Chipman
Scrambling toward Chipman
Higher up on Chipman

The next landmark is the saddle between Chipman and Lightning ridge. We dropped packs and made the quick run to bag Chipman.

South side of Lightning Ridge from the Chipman saddle
Pano from the summit of Chipman. Box Elder and Timpanogos behind. (Click to expand)
Looking back at Pfeifferhorn and Upwop from the summit of Chipman

We picked up our packs and continued along the crest of Lightning ridge, generally staying on the south side to avoid the worst of the exposure. This was my favorite part of the hike. The views are outstanding, the rock solid, and the scrambling a blast.

Hole in the ridge crest (click to expand)
Messing around on Lightning Ridge
A little bit of exposure in places….

We continued along the ridge, dropping a bit further down to the south to avoid some cliff bands around the South Thunder saddle. The scrambling continued its excellent quality.

Lightning Ridge
Lightning Ridge is spectacular
Cool obelisk

Before reaching South Thunder, we were surprised to see a bunch of mountain goats with the purest white coat I’ve ever seen.

Adult goat
Goat family
How do I get down?
Jumping down
South Thunder mountain

We walked the remaining few hundred feet up to the summit of South Thunder. It was cool to revisit this peak as my last Wasatch hike – it was also my first!

South Thunder take 2
South Thunder pano (click to expand)
East Face of Lone Peak
Descending South Thunder

At this point, we began the descent and I was starting to get tired. It was a couple thousand feet of granite slabs to the grassy field above the reservoir, then a bit of a bushwhack down to the reservoir itself.

View of the reservoir from up high
Hanging valley above the reservoir
Upper Bell’s reservoir

After reaching the reservoir I thought I was home free. Ohhhh no. There are still 4-5 miles and thousands of feet of elevation left to lose all the way down to the car. Never has the valley looked so close yet been so far away…

Upper Bell’s Falls

Maybe 1/3 of the way down the trail we side-hiked to the upper falls which were nice. I was pretty beat though so I was ready to head all the way down. The trail is steep and rocky – wouldn’t be a problem but after 11 hours of hiking it was pretty brutal.

We arrived back at the car at around 7:00 – just under 12 hours car-to-car. Not a fast pace, but we got down before dark which is all I was looking for.

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