Pfiffner Traverse Trip Conclusion

My Pfiffner Traverse trip in September 2020 was not the longest hike I have attempted – but it was by far the most educational. Namely because, the challenging nature of the route and the dynamic conditions of the season forced me to reassess my standard approach to backcountry travel. A consistent internal dialogue of critical decision-making led to an introspective mood in the latter days of the hike. As I reevaluated my day’s plans, I also uncovered a good deal of what motivates my hiking in the first place. pfiffner traverse trip

By sorting through my own intentions in the process of high-risk decision-making, I uncovered novel ways to experience the outdoors that were direct, dynamic, and fulfilling. In being forced to face difficult choices, I was given the opportunity to grow as an outdoorsman by embracing flexibility in my routine. Even more, it allowed for the safer passage of a technical backpacking route that demanded every ounce of energy and concentration which I had to give. 

Backcountry Safety and Realistic Planning

Each year, the hiking community suffers tragic losses to accidents on the trail. To illustrate, a young man was killed early on a PCT thru-hike attempt in the mountains of Southern California in spring 2020. This hiker died when attempting to traverse a snow and ice-covered portion of the trail without proper equipment. In like fashion, the Colorado hiking community lost four hikers to deaths on 14ers in September – October 2020. 

pfiffner traverse trip While goals dividends in hiking, it’s important to balance this drive with a realistic appraisal of route/trail conditions. With my own progression into route-finding in mountain climbing and backpacking, the day’s conditions take precedence over my pre-established goals. Similarly, backcountry ski touring plans follow a similar mantra of fluidity in dealing with avalanche danger. The idea here is not to strike fear into the hiking community. Rather, the goal is to present ways to re-envision our wilderness experiences in a less competitive, rigid fashion. In the end, this new approach will provide safer and more fulfilling experiences. 

Every individual engages the outdoors in a unique and personal way. To this end, as your confidence in the outdoors grows with experience, it’s largely these approaches to adventure that come to define your personality as an outdoors person. Yet, all it takes is a single outing to make you revise your entire outlook on wilderness travel, and consequently, reimagine your image of yourself. 


If you would like to learn more about my Pfiffner Traverse trip, or details about hiking the route, please contact

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Kent Gruetzmacher

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