Trip Report    

Basic Rock Climb - The Tooth/South Face

The Tooth, not just a simple alpine rock climb

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Summer route is in, route finding to the top of the basin is easy (going down on the other hand is not.) Snow-free approach until 4500' at the "watering hole" (last water make sure to refill up because it'll be 6-8 hours before you get water again.) Pineapple Pass is completely snow-free and no moat. Climbing route is in tip top shape with no issues.

Approach 2.5 hours (with breaks)

We got to the parking lot at 6AM to gear up, set rope teams, establish team roles (medical, first aid etc...)  and verbally establish the plan and hit the trail at 6:32AM. Within 1 hour we hit the scree field where we attempted to take a high route following a previous GPS track, after some bushwhacking we decided to back track a little and descend into the scree field and work our way up. Route finding wasnt hard as we stayed to the right side of the creek bed going up the draw. In the basin we found big patches of snow in places that I wouldnt be surprised if they last another two weeks. These snow fields were easy going and added a little bit more to the trip to enjoy. We grabbed water at the watering hole, reminding folks that this would be the last water for 8 hours so please top off. This would prove to be a wise decision as most of us we would eventually go through the 2+ liters of water we each brought. A quick ascend of pineapple pass (completely snow free on both sides) we took the high route over and got to the start of the climb.

at the bottom of the basin

2/3 up the basin

Ascent ~3 hours

We got to the base of the climb around 10AM'ish? We would break the tooth up into 5 pitches to keep the group moving by making pitch 1 short and doing it in two blocks. With two rope leads (myself and Jan) and three climbers we decided to go with one rope team of two, with two independent and different color ropes, and one rope team of two. We each brought Rocky talkie radios  that would help in the communication (protip stay off channel 22 due to too much HAM radio traffic.)  There was two teams already on the route with one that just started that led to the delay to getting started, kinda fuzzy on the actual start time. Once on route the route conditions were solid with the only suggestion is the small tree at the top of pitch 1 is dead and sketchy and we choose to avoid building any anchors off this and instead slung solid rock as our anchor. A free soloist passed us during our ascent which was interesting for everyone watching. We were constantly bombarded by hummingbirds during the first two pitches, apparently the area was being used as a hummingbird racetrack. Also plenty of butterfly's were attracted to our helmets and many landed and were disappointed at the lack of nectar. Note to future self, add flowers to my helmet to feed the butterflies.  Our second team topped out at 1:30PM'ish. Maggie provided a customized charcuterie board to celebrate the occasion and we opted to skip the champagne she also brought up (thanks a bunch Maggie that was awesome) additional sharing of snacks and cookies, cross loading on water so everyone had something (huge plus) and started our rappels.

Dennis and Don at the bottom of pitch 3

Summit selfie L-R (Dennis, Jan, Don, Dan, Maggie)

Decent ~3 hours
I opted to install a handline from the summit to the rappel station, for increased safety and to reduce the risk. Climbers used a third hand to get to the rappel station. I led the first rappel to the top of pitch 4 using Robs new amazing anchors (see previous trip report.) Robs new anchors can be found at top of pitch 4, pitch 3 and pitch 2)   I rebuilt and added new webbing and new gold rap rings to the anchor at the bottom of pitch 4 (skiers right) then a rappel to pitch 3, followed by a rappel to pitch 2, then finally with a single 60m rope we were able to rappel all the way from pitch 2 to the base of the climb no problem. Remember folks to tie those knots at the end of the ropes during rappels.  Other notable point is we got our rope stuck twice on decent when we were pulling them. I think we got everyone down by 5PM? After getting our gear together we decided to rappel the scramble route using the bolted anchor at the bottom of the climb. Why take the risk when you can simply avoid it.

One of Robs awesome new anchors!

Return 3 hours
The team opted to take the low route down and around to pineapple pass. We plunge stepped our way down the snow path with snow conditions solid. I had a few 30 foot glissades that added to the fun. A stop at the watering hole to refill our water once again as most of us had used all of it then we attempted to find our  way back down the draw. Cold filtered snow water, simply amazing! Even with multiple GPS, trying to find our decent path  provided to be a challenge, is it this way or that way? We went about 30'ish minutes finding the right way to go, we overshot our actual decent route by 130 feet and ended up on top of some cliffs that had several old bail stations. Clearly previous climbers had the same issue and decided to rap the cliffs (note dont use those old tatters) We did find the actual decent route, the best way I could describe it, is its in the draw with the creek on skiers left where it would descend down the left side just below the cliff bands. Next trip I would seriously spend more time preparing for this aspect as we lost a bunch of time and energy trying to find this path. Even with prior experience on this route it provided to be a challenge finding the right spot to go down that didnt end in getting cliff'ed out. Huge thanks to Dan for being an amazing scout, keeping us safe and finding the right path to take down this critical portion.  

Looking down into the basin


We got back to the cars at 8:10, overall car to car was about 13 hours 40 minutes'ish. This trip ended up being harder than a lot of us expected. Oh its the Tooth  it's easy is not something I'd say. The actual climb+decent  yes and much fun for everyone, the approach and hike out plus the climb is something to give this alpine climb respect and make sure your conditioning is solid. 

We got two climbers Dan+Dennis their first alpine rock climb (yeah!!!!!) and Maggie got a successful re-attempt at the Tooth. 

All in all it was an amazing day with amazing conditions while getting constantly bombarded by humming birds and butterflies. Huge shout out to Jan for letting me do this mentored lead and showing me tips and tricks throughout this trip as well as providing me kind feedback/options when necessary. That kind of mentorship continues to make successful leaders.