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Tag Archives | Pfiffner Traverse

The Pfiffner Traverse is a 75-mile backpacking high route that follows the Continental Divide and the crest of Colorado’s Front Range through Rocky Mountain National Park and the James Peak and Indian Peaks Wilderness Areas. It can be thru-hiked end-to-end (in 6 to 10 days, on average) or undertaken in sections with multi-night trips, long day hikes, and adventurous trail runs.

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The Pfiffner Traverse Guide is a comprehensive resource for thru- and section-hikers. It includes preparatory information, plus topographic maps, route descriptions, and datasheets for the Primary Route, Alternates, and eight shorter loop trips.

A big horn sheep in Rocky Mountain National Park. I also saw moose and herds of elk.

Comparison: Nolan’s 14 vs. Pfiffner Traverse || Wilderness, difficulty, and flow

As part of a 650-mile, 39-day self-supported hike along Colorado’s Continental Divide last summer, Sam Chaneles completed both Nolan’s 14 and the Pfiffner Traverse. Nolan’s 14 and the Pfiffner Traverse are both high routes in the Colorado Rockies, suitable for advanced backpackers and adventurous ultra runners. While they both feature lengthy off-trail sections and alpine […]

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The loose Class 3 gully below Paiute Pass, at the head of Thunderbolt Creek on the Pfiffner Traverse.

Words of caution: FKT’ing or “running” the Pfiffner Traverse

In a recent photo essay in Trail Runner, Sunny Stroeer gave a hearty endorsement of the Pfiffner Traverse, for which she set a 55-hour fastest known time (FKT) last summer: “The Pfiffner Traverse is a mountain runner’s dream: miles of smooth, gentle singletrack that flow through high mountain meadows and across infrequently traveled passes along the […]

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I spent most of last weekend at the dining table, making final edits to the Guide.

Done! Pfiffner Traverse Guide

This morning I put the final touches on the First Edition of the Pfiffner Traverse Guide. It was a monstrous project and I’m thrilled to finally have it out there. The Guidebook alone is 23,000 words; the package also includes Mapsets and Datasheets for the Primary Route and for seven Section-hikes. Thankfully I enjoy the […]

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My system for a mid-July thru-hike after a wet winter. On the steepest pitches, I self-belayed up or down with the axe, with the Pocket Cleats giving me a little bit of extra assurance on my foot placements. I think most backpackers would have wanted full crampons.

Reader Q: Do I need an ice axe or crampons on the Pfiffner Traverse?

A question from reader Stan P. of Alexandria, Virginia: This is a great question, because the answer is both nuanced and consequential. A multitude of factors are at play, and you want to be right — or else you’ll be carrying several pounds of unnecessary equipment, bailing off your intended route, or exposing yourself to excessive […]

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pawnee-lake-divide

Route beta || Pfiffner Traverse: Thunderbolt Creek & Paiute Pass

To connect Buchanan Creek with Cascade Creek in Colorado’s Indian Peaks Wilderness, the Pfiffner Traverse ascends a knife-edge pass at the head of trail-less Thunderbolt Creek that offers sweeping views of the Pawnee Lake basin and the Continental Divide. The alternative to this route is an ordinary and relatively view-less all-trail route around the west […]

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The Tribal Lakes basin, as seen from its western edge at the top of the elk trail.

Route beta || Pfiffner Traverse: Northeast Gully, Lone Eagle Cirque & Lost Tribe Lakes

The Northeast Gully is the most difficult feature on the Pfiffner Traverse: it’s filled with snow through mid-summer, covered with talus and loose scree in late-summer, and always steep. Unfortunately, it’s also a critical connector between Lone Eagle Cirque, Lost Tribe Lakes, and upper Arapaho Creek, all in Colorado’s Indian Peaks Wilderness. An easy all-trail […]

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Sierra Designs 35-deg mummy and Thermarest NeoAir, inside of the SD High Route Tent 1FL (fly only)

Gear List: Pfiffner Traverse || Colorado Rockies in July

It’s been years since I posted a complete backpacking gear list for a trip. Instead, I’ve been doing in-depth dives on specific categories (e.g. shelter systems, stove systems, first aid kits) that I believe are more instructive and universally relevant than lengthy gear lists that are specific to a single location, season, and group size. […]

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