Trip Report    

Basic Rock Climb - The Tooth/South Face

Why do The Tooth under ideal, sunny conditions like everyone else when you can suffer a little like a true Mountaineer? The Tooth is a forgiving place with solid rock that dries remarkably fast. The approach is another matter with fast thinning snow and suspicious snow bridges.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • The winter route is long over.  The summer route is in pretty good shape, but the snow on the route across the talus slope above Source Lake and up into the Great Scott Bowl is fast thinning in places, especially over the stream crossings.  The approach will actually be better once most of the snow over the water sources melt and one can cross over on the rocks.  For now, you are forced to negotiate the thin snow.  However, the transition from snow to rock in the gully before you drop down to the backside to get to Pineapple Pass was easy as the snow reached pretty high into the gully and we could easily step across from the snow to the rock without really having to negotiate "the moat."   There is still some snow on the trail around the backside to the base of the climb so take care.

Our party of four was the only party at the Snow Lake Trailhead when we left for the Tooth at about  6:45 AM.  We knew the weather forecast for the day was a little unstable with chance of precipitation, but our spirits were high and we wanted to give it a shot.  Snow was present beginning at the talus slope above Source Lake. 


The snow was firm in the morning as we crossed above the lake, but we could tell it was fast melting in places. The stream crossings were the greatest hazards as we could not avoid having to negotiate thinning snow bridges.  Once in the Great Scott Bowl, the snow was better and extended well into the gully, which eased the transition from snow to the rock. No moat problems today.  We had brought microspikes and ice axes, but only the ice axes came out during our approach.


Scrambling the backside, we encountered some patches of snow as we made our way to the base of the climb but all was pretty straight forward.


Of greater concern was the fast deteriorating weather as we encountered sideways rain and whipping wind on Pineapple Pass.   The Tooth looked ominous and potentially yucky wet. What to do?


The spirit of alpinism prevailed.  Hey, it's the Tooth.  The route is solid, dries fast, and you can bail at every pitch.  A rainbow came out (it's true, but we were not fast enough for the picture proof) and we went for it. 


The weather steadied itself for a time as we completed the pitches in very efficient fashion.  We were rewarded with absolutely no views at the top, leaving us with summit pics that you can fill with whatever scenery you wanted in Photoshop.  But who wants yet another sunny, gorgeous picture from the top of the Tooth?  Summit was reached at about 11:30 AM.


As we rappelled down, another party of two were making their way up. We congratulated our foolhardiness to come out.  The weather then again fell upon us and we carefully down-climbed off of the Pineapple, and made our way back the way we came. The snow in the Bowl by this time was a great consistency for plunge stepping.


We made it back to the cars without further incident, completing a really fun time out with a great, upbeat team.   Total time from car to car was 8 hours and 55 minutes.  (Photo Credits to Amrit Panda)