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Trip Report    

Big Snagtooth/West Ridge

Thanks to some great route finding by our climbing party leaders we made our way from Highway 20 to the summit traversing ridges and creeks through the forest, which in this area is luckily sparse enough to allow for bushwhacking without your wondering with every step why you didn't bring a machete. Except for a small stretch of the Silver Star trail that we followed until shortly after crossing the Early Winters creek, there was no trail at all.

The boulder field in the basin under the Snagtooth ridge was almost free of snow, which was a pity since the scree and boulder slopes are constantly moving and sliding under your feet. We took the last remains of a snowfield up and then scrambled to the ridge close together to avoid rockfall accidents. From the ridge to the summit saddle it's kitty-litter scree all the way, two steps forward, one step back - very annoying on the way up but much easier while you're sliding downhill.

The summit block is just one small pitch; since none of us students needed credit, the leader climbed first, set up a top rope and the rest of us scrambled up. The last step is the summit boulder where you can't set up any protection, hand holds are poor, and you have to use friction. Once Sue climbed up (the only one who had brought rock shoes), the rest of us climbed with belay and occasionally a bit of help with positioning our feet.

We rappelled off the summit block and then down to the saddle. The mood of the day was "well, I'm not planning to come back here anytime soon", so we decided we might as well tag Willow Tooth, the small summit on the other side of the saddle, an easy scramble.

Going down the slope that leads to the ridge was a more dangerous affair than coming up - every step would dislodge boulders the size of footballs triggering scree and stone avalanches down the slope. We split up in two teams; one waited until the other down-climbed to the snowfield. On the way back through the forest we took a more direct route down, the bushwhacking seemed less fierce but the heat of the day was taking a toll on us. I finished 4 liters of water.

Started at 4:55AM at the Silver Star pullout on HW20
Summit at 11AM
Back at cars 4:25PM