Trip Report    

The Tooth/Southwest Face

Personal trip to the Tooth with 2 mountaineers members via Snow Lake Trail

  • Fri, May 27, 2022
  • The Tooth/Southwest Face
  • Climbing
  • Turned Around
  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Immediate trail clear but most of it is covered in soft snow, depth varies. Snow Lake Trail not immediately visible, but there's a decent enough trail of footprints that follows the general trail. I used the latest GPS track on Peakbagger for navigation. Our Route: https://www.gaiagps.com/map/?loc=14.1/-121.4597/47.4511&pubLink=lx8YWkywl1P6lsitYz5lvnm4&trackId=e6fd3d729bfa34435215397954f3d8e5cf5f2dcd

    We crossed a number of snow bridges that have started to melt away, and we ended up having to cross over a number of waterfalls where there was a break in the snow.

    Up until the traverse over snow lake, we managed with boots and trekking poles. At the traverse, the snow depth becomes much greater. We did not encounter any condition that indicated an active avalanche zone, it looked like everything had popped already and there wasn't a fresh layer of snow that gave us any concern.

    After heading up the gully, through the south face approach, we opted for Snowshoes as we were starting to encounter really deep snow until we eventually turned back just shy of the approach to the base, where we encountered thigh-deep snow. 

    The biggest hazard we encountered was a bunch of melting snow bridges, especially on the hike back. Approach with caution especially as the weather warms. We found a couple locations where it seemed like it would be very easy to fall through.

Surprisingly snowy for late May! We started on Snow Lake Trail around 9am, and the hike up to and including the traverse/south face approach was completely covered in snow. Up until the Traverse, we managed with trekking poles and boots. Weather-wise, we started in a light drizzle, which let up by the time we reached the traverse.


approach 2.jpg

We encountered about 3 spots where there was a break in the snow bridges and we had to traverse a few waterfalls. I managed to lose a black diamond snow basket for one of my poles near one - if anyone finds one, let me know!


Around the traverse, the snow depth became a lot greater and eventually I switched from my trekking poles to my ice axe to ascend the gully to the south face approach. Conditions-wise, we were not concerned about avalanches since we didn't see additional top layer.


snow lake.jpg

Once we topped out at the gully the snow got a little shallower, but we eventually opted for snowshoes as we continued the approach. From here, the weather improved a bunch and we even got a little sunshine! Pictured below is the tooth just before the clouds lifted.


south face approach 1.jpg

Once the weather improved, the plan was to climb the tooth, but around 1:30 pm, due to the snow depth (reached middle thigh) we decided to turn around in the interest of time and out of concern for fatigue. With a couple of breather breaks, in total, it took us around 4 hours to hike from the trailhead near Alpental to where we turned around.

south face approaach 2.jpg

Overall, we had a great time, but this is definitely one that we wanted to wait a little longer to see the snow melt. In its' current form, I would definitely recommend starting as early as you can to account for the extra trip length due to the snow.  Not for the faint of heart and despite turning around genuinely one of the most rewarding/exhausting things I've ever done!