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Ascent of Shark Tooth on 2020-09-12

Climber: Ben Still

Date:Saturday, September 12, 2020
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Shark Tooth
    Location:USA-Alaska
    Elevation:5700 ft / 1737 m

Ascent Trip Report

Shark Tooth SE ridge - 5.7 (7-5th class pitches) with Mike Miller

Summit day, Mike and I left at 6:45am from camp at 3700 feet elevation from a large flat rock ledge below the south face of the peak. We hiked a 100 yards along the ledge and started up steep loose scree for a couple hundred feet to another ledge and scrambly ramp that leads to the big ledge at the base of the south face of Shark Tooth. Once on the ledge we traversed steep heather slopes and scree until a 4th class traverse over some exposed glacial polished slabs. A small smear of ice from the cold morning was covering part of the slabs. We got the rope out and found a horn to sling and I lead out and placed a came right at the start of the slabs. I tip toed around the ice, made the exposed 4th class moves, ran the rope out across the rest of the 3rd class terrain until the ledge opened back up and belayed Mike over. I was a little concerned about ice being a problem on the upper ridge now, hoping for the best. The ledge is wide for a very short time and quickly turns into very steep heather traversing and then another 4th class couple of moves over a rocky gulley. We took the rope back out here and I quickly traversed this section and belayed Mike over. We took the ledge to the very end where it turns into a short 50 foot low 5th class pitch to access the SE ridge. This pitch is pretty easy with a couple of mossy steps, but good protection.

Awesome we were on the SE ridge proper! This rocky granite ridge is absolutely stunning. We scrambled up the class 2 ridge until the notch which is class 3 and easiest on the north side of the ridge. A few hundred more vertical and we were at the base of the 1st step in the ridge. I led up the 1st of 2 pitches on this step more towards the north side of the ridge placing lots of pro and weaving back to the south side of the ridge to belay Mike up. Mike leads the 2nd pitch which is super fun low 5th class climbing with some exposure starting to add up. At the top of the pitch the ridge slackens off back to class 2-3 for a bit. We coil the rope up and hike up this section to the base of the 2nd step in the ridge. This is the crux of the climb and looks to be about 3-4 pitches. The ridge has narrowed considerably and exposure gets big especially on the north side. The first pitch is the crux and I tackle a series of shallow near vertical cracks on the edge of the north face with lots of lichen, overall good protection and a stiff 5.7 alpine rating. At the top of the pitch is a large slab that leans to the north face that must be traversed to a belay. The next pitch is easy 5th class climbing up a series of cracks to a huge ledge which puts you at the base of the splitter crack. With a 60 m rope I don't have enough left to climb the splitter crack, but you might with a 70 m rope. I belay Mike up and take off up this awesome crack that eats up my #1 and #2 cams quickly. Definitely the best pitch of the climb and in the 5.7-5.6 range. The splitter only lasts 30-40 feet so I continue up a series of low fifth class ramps and cracks to a large heather ledge. One more short low fifth class pitch and it is an easy scramble to the summit!

On the summit we find the cairn that Mike's son Dylan and his friend Matt Callahan made during their first ascent of the peak back in September of 2018. We hang out on the summit for an extended period enjoying the warm sunshine and waiting for Dylan and his friend Evan Hartung who are climbing up the south rib of the peak. After an hour and a half they join us on the summit for the 3rd ascent of the peak. They found 6-70m pitches all in the 5.9 to 5.10 range, very sustained climbing. We all descended the SE ridge making lots of rappels and getting back to camp at 6:45pm 12 hours later just as the sun is setting. What an amazing day of climbing on Shark Tooth!
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2900 ft / 883 m
    Extra Gain:400 ft / 121 m
    Round-Trip Distance:4 mi / 6.4 km
    Trailhead:3600 ft / 1097 m
    Grade/Class:5.7
    Quality:10 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Scramble, Exposed Scramble, Rock Climb
    Gear Used:
Rope, Tent Camp



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