Trip Report    

Basic Rock Climb - The Tooth/South Face

the mother of all Basic rock climbs, early in the season

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Winter route is in, but needs some tweaking due to Summit closing for construction, and signs rerouting traffic to the right across the creek.

    Summer route has one creek crossing that required wading through water at mid-shin level some 0.7 miles or so from the trailhead, lots of thin snow bridges, and was somewhat icy in places despite the hot temps this weekend. A bunch of slipping and punching through.

    Moat and undercut snow getting from the Great Scott Bowl into Pineapple Pass, negotiated by stepping left into the moat and onto the rock.

    Moat on the other side getting into the gully that leads to the base of the climb, but smaller and easier to step on the the rock, and the snow finger goes almost to the base, so not much of a scramble needed at this time.

    No snow on the rock pitches.

    No large groups or other climbers to get stuck behind and wait on - we were alone on the South Face route (only one pair going up Tooth Fairy met us on the summit). 

Met at 6am near the Snow Lake TH, since the gate was closed for car traffic due to construction. It was going to be a hot day, but started as a pretty chilly morning. Started walking 6:30am.

We left snowshoes, crampons, and microspikes at home. Snow was good to walk on in boots, and good for kicking steps and plunge stepping later in the day.

By 8:30am we reached a nice lunch spot in the Great Scotts Basin, and took 10 min. there to eat the first of the three sandwiches while appreciating the great views and the clear blue sky.



By 9:30 we negotiated the final slope and the first moat and reached Pineapple Pass, and took another break there.

Students  after crossing the moat:


View down on the other side:


Getting to the base of the climb, as usual, required downscrambling some steep snow and going around trees and rocks, then going up the snow finger and finishing with 20-30 feet of a final rock scramble.

We got there by around 10am, and started climbing by 10:30am. Until then, we saw noone on the trail or on the mountain. Just as we were starting to climb, we heard a party below us heading to the Tooth Fairy.

Not much to say about the climb, other than that it was an insanely hot day (reaching low 60s at the summit), and there was no snow on the route. Other than that, it was the quintessential The Tooth experience.

With Rakesh, after the second pitch:


Everyone topped out by 1:30pm or so.

Rakesh  at the summit:


And here's everyone at the summit:

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Time for the second sandwich. Two down, one to go.

Started the 4 single-rope rappels 20 minutes later. Managed to get rope stuck on the first rappel, had to climb  back to get it unstuck, so we took a time hit. Finished rappels by 3:50pm or so, and after packing up, started downscramblign back to Pineapple Pass by shortly after 4pm.

The summer route has thin snow bridges, ample oportunities to punch through, but we mostly managed ok on the way down except for a small accident with ice axe arrest where one participant popped their shoulder due to the axe getting away from underneath them, but was able to pop it back in and walk out. Snow on the way down was firmer than I thought it would have been with the recent hot temps and the hot day.

Summer route, where I ate the third and the final sandwich:


As we were approaching the Source Lake Trail, we found one of the streams trickling down the rocks with a shallow moat that was safe to approach and step into. We used that opportunity to refill the water bottles.

The last mile or so, a bunch of creeks running across the trail. One had water coming to mid-shin without a way to step across, so we got our boots wet - fortunately we were on the way out close to our cars, so that wasn't a big deal.

Back to cars by 7:30pm, at the upper end of the projected time window. With some attractions on the way back, but all back in one piece.

Last time I climbed the Tooth, it was some 5 years ago as a rope lead in the Tacoma Intermediate course. Reminded me of the good old days filled with the most wonderful memories.

This was the first Basic rock climb for 2 of the students (Rakesh and Terra). Congrats!