in the Shadow of the Tooth!
February 14, 2004
Theron's report and (later) some great photos are here.
Michael, Theron and I had plans to climb Chair Peak today, but when we pulled into the Alpental parking lot and saw that it was snowing pretty heavily we decided to change our destination to the Tooth.
There were two other cars in the parking lot so we were able to follow a trail through the new snow until Source Lake. From there we took turns breaking trail up to the the Great Scott Bowl. We spied some ice formations on the southeast side of the bowl and took note of them in case we had extra time after climbing the Tooth.
Instead of climbing up to Pineapple Pass and then having to climb down and around, we decided to take the direct approach up the steeper gully that would put us at the base of the climb. Since the snow was pretty firm we decided to just kick steps up and forgo the crampons. Silly us! About halfway up Michael called down that he had found ice and recommended that we put on crampons. So we kicked in a ledge and put the crampons on.
Reader's Digest verson: The gully/couloir was more difficult than we expected and Theron did much battle with the snow and ice as he led up through the corniced top. While Michael and I climbed up, Theron thawed out his frozen fingers. Once we were all on top, we put roped up and I put Michael on belay to lead the first pitch. Theron's harness had failed to make it into his pack, so we fashioned a Swami belt harness out of webbing. On lead, Michael found that we did not have large enough gear to adequately protect the icy route so we decided to bail and head back down to climb the ice we saw earlier.
We did a single rope rappel down the gully and then donned our snowshoes and galumphed across the bowl to the waiting ice! With twin ropes I lead up the terraced ice and was able to fashion a top rope by slinging some shrubby trees growing out of the wall. Michael and Theron took turns climbing up the route, taking variations.
By this time it was getting on in the day and since it was St Valentines Day, we decided to call it a day and head back down. I reclimbed the route, cleaned the anchors then continued climbing up on moderate snow to where I could walk off.