Woah, I am behind in writing my mountaineering posts for those following along at home. You might remember that I had to make up Snow I before being able to do any of the alpine climbs. Well, the first alpine attempt was canceled due to wet avalanche slides. With only one group able to do a navigation hike.
Even with the chance of rain forecast for the second alpine climb, I was pretty stoked to attempt the Tooth after seeing so many of my classmate’s photos from Friday and Saturday summits. The Tooth is located near Snoqualmie Pass near Seattle and is sought out by trad and alpine climbers.
The objective was to hike up the Pineapple Basin to Pineapple Pass, where the bottom of the Tooth protrudes from the ground. After arriving at the base, climbers put on harnesses to start the multi-pitch climb. Fortunately, the instructors led the climb in the wee hours of the morning. Three top ropes and a hand line were set up for students to use to climb the rock with a 5.4 rating.
I was glad for the snow coverage. In the summer months, climbers that attempt the Tooth have to hike through scree fields to get to the base. The approach is roughly 3 miles with a 2,700 feet elevation gain. The hike started with a narrow trail through trees to Source Lake. From Source Lake, we turned right and headed up to Pineapple Pass.
During the hike in, we played follow-the-leader, where the leader was kicking steps for the rest of the group. After kicking roughly 50 steps, the lead would step out of the boot pack and give the next person a turn. It was an efficient way of climbing the steeper elevation without tiring ourselves out for the climb.
The steepest section of the approach is climbing up over Pineapple Pass. Before climbing up the pass, we all stashed trekking poles and snowshoes and armed ourselves with helmets and ice axes. Heading around the base of the rock, we then scrambled up to the first pitch, where we hydrated and snacked as the seven students waited their turn to start the climb.
I struggled a little on the first pitch with my 20+ pound pack and mountaineering boots. Once I got used to my pack, the climbing was more enjoyable. The fourth pitch’s catwalk section was my favorite, where I walked along a small rock ledge before reaching the summit. The views were amazing even with the low cloud cover.
My climbing group was awesome. We sung different versions of popular songs while waiting for all climbers–usually alpine climbing groups are smaller. Whenever the sun peaked out, we would sing “I’m climbing in sunshine, WOAH.”
I made it!
I was able to watch five of the other students reach the summit, which was very fun. It was a bonding experience as we shared our climbing and hiking stories while snacking and watching the clouds blow by. Once everyone reached the summit, it was time to rappel the four pitches. Since we were all anchored in, the last one up was the first one down, which meant I was on the summit longer than most.
Summit with a view
The rappels were not my favorite since the routes were not vertical. The rain started coming down as we finished our rappels. We waited for all the instructors to break down the rappels before hiking out. Glissading was an option on the descent. I decided not to glissade at first and worked on the plunge step technique before getting into a glissade shoot.
Most decided to glissade as far down as possible, but I decided to strap on my snowshoes with some of the instructors. It was fun sliding down on snowshoes once I got my skiing motion back. I did post-hole while taking off my snowshoes on a steep section, where I could not feel the ground below.
The hike out was enjoyable knowing what we accomplished for the day. The other group that climbed Lundin Peak were waiting for us in the Alpental parking lot with celebratory beverages. It was a great day and experience.
What is the highest you climbed?
More in this series:
- Mountaineering – Is it for me?
- Mountaineering School – Gear and Navigation
- Mountaineering School – Knots, Knots, and Spire Rock
- Mountaineering School – Anchors and Climbing Mt. Erie
- Mountaineering School – Staying Safe on the Mountain
- Mountaineering School – Winter Camping, Ice Axe, and Snow I