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Posts Tagged ‘The Sharkstooth’

Summer didn’t seem ready to end so it was hard not to take a day off work and venture up into the alpine. Jonathan and I departed at 4am from Golden and were headlamp hiking by 5:30 from the Glacier Gorge trailhead. Headlamps turned off a bit after The Loch when we turned up towards Andrews Glacier.

The side valley known as “The Gash” opened up to our left with our first view of The Sharkstooth.

Passing a few bivy spots at the mouth of The Gash, we scrambled up a break in the lower cliff band, then zigged left and zagged back right through large talus blocks to reach the base.

The Northeast Ridge route that we had parked ourselves beneath was only 5 pitches at a maximum difficulty of 5.6+/5.7. Still, I didn’t feel my best this morning and offered up the first lead to Jonathan so he’d get the majority of the pitches when we swapped leads. The cold rock may have also had something to do with my reluctance to take up the sharp end.

Jonathan quickly reached the alcove belay stance and I forced my feet into some cold climbing shoes but kept my gloves on for the climb.

At the belay we both shivered a bit while I took the rack and read the pitch 2 description.

Climbing above Jonathan and stemming between the alcove’s walls I soon reached one of the technical cruxes of the climb – a 5.7 finger crack. I shouted down that the climbing was fun, but would be twice as fun if my fingers weren’t numb. After the crack the climbing eased off and I passed someone’s bail rappel and eventually reached a nice grassy ledge that seemed to match a photo I’d seen of the route. Unfortunately, I never found the “2m wide black ledge”. Well, I didn’t see it while climbing, but looking down I thought the ledge might be 30 feet below me, which means I’d somehow bypassed the 5.7 layback that started pitch 3. Oops.

When Jonathan arrived at the belay to enjoy the sun I explained where I thought we were as I passed off the rack to him. He agreed that we’d missed the layback section and seemed a bit disappointed. At least the climbing ahead looked fun.

Perhaps to make up for missing the layback, Jonathan started to look for more challenging lines above, “I’m not taking the easiest line” was his warning shouted to me below. Once he finished the pitch I got to see first hand how he’d found some 5.7 or so variations to the easier climbing.

He’d wrapped up the pitch on a small belay ledge and thought I’d need traverse left. When I did so I found some loose blocks and then pulled onto a huge ledge right below the pitch 4 offwidth crack. I looked down on Jonathan’s belay and told him it would be better to come straight up instead of doing the loose rock climbing that I’d done.

The offwidth had well featured faces on the sides, so I only did a few foot jams in the crack itself. Higher up many of the cracks available for protection were formed by loose blocks that I didn’t want to place a cam behind, so it became a little run out. I was happy to pop into an exposed saddle with a giant horn to sling for a belay. My final lead was over.

While Jonathan came up the forth pitch I watched as a climber reached the top of the Petit Grepon and then proceeded to bring up 3 others.

Jonathan finished the pitch, took the rack and looked at our route description before setting off on the final pitch.

After passing to the left of the white face he stayed far left from the edge, robbing us of the exposed views down the NW side of the peak, but also giving us a bit harder climbing to finish up with. We untied and walked the last few feet to the summit for lunch.

A cairn marked a little down scramble and walk to a set of 3 pitons and a nut that formed the first rap anchor down the east gully.

The first rappel took us 50 meters down to a second anchor and I was happy that the 6mm tag line that had proved so problematic on the Petit Grepon pulled cleanly. Our 2nd rappel went a full 60 meters down to a nut/chockstone/piton anchor. And a final 25m took us to the ground. With a 70m rope it looked like it would be possible to do this rappel with just a bit of scrambling after the first rap.

We were now at the saddle between The Sharkstooth and the Saber and just had to scramble back to the base of the route to retrieve Jonathan’s pack.

Then we repeated our approach hike in reverse to finish the day.

Adam’s complete photo album
Jonathan’s photo album

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