| The Sharkstooth
The Sharkstooth 12,630ft
Rocky Mountain National Park
Northeast Ridge, 5.6
The Sharkstooth has the distinction of being one of the few officially named peaks in RMNP with only fifth class routes to the summit. At that we were interested. At first sight of the Sharkstooth, we were genuinely excited. This aesthetic tower is complemented with a breathtaking approach and an excellent moderate climb on its northeast ridge.
For those looking to climb this peak, here is some beta..
Route: The northeast ridge is rated 5.6. Most of it is sustained 5.5 to 5.6. Some consider it 5.7. The rock is great and mostly solid except for the last hundred feet.
Pitches: Summitpost and MP describe it in 5 pitches. With a 70m, we were able to do it in 3 pitches. The first and third pitch were real rope stretchers.
Gear: This route generally protects well. Lots of opportunity to use your nuts. In anticipation of long pitches we brought a lot of cams. Double C4s from .4 to #3, one #4. For small cams we had a #2 TCU, a couple C3s and a few Aliens.
Footwear: We both wore approach shoes and would probably do the same again. Though for us it was pushing it a bit.
Descent: Two ropes are not necessary.
The day began at the Glacier Gorge trailhead. With the threat of afternoon showers at a minimum, we starting hiking around sunrise. Hallett Peak looking pretty spectacular in the alpenglow.
Next stop, Loch Vale. The tip of the Sharkstooh is barely visible behind Cathedral Ridge.
Looking back at Loch Vale after making our way around the lake.
After passing the Andrews Creek campsites Zowie's Tower comes into view on the right. I had never seen it before in person but knew of it from Tom Pierce. It's on his short list and it's now clear why.
Marc and I were beginning to wonder where exactly we were headed when the Sharkstooth came into view as the trail climbed out of trees.
Took about an hour to make our way through the Gash to the base of the climb.
Getting the gear together at the start of the first pitch.
Marc let me take the first lead. Climbing was fine at the start (pictured here) but really became enjoyable towards the second half of this 230 foot pitch. Had a little bit of everything, including an ideal overhead placement for the #4 we brought.
With only a few feet of rope left I reached a nice ledge, built an anchor, and brought Marc up.
Marc on the second half of the first pitch.
Another shot as Marc nears the anchor.
Marc lead the next pitch, which included what is described by some as the crux move. This left-facing layback flake is difficult to protect once you start climbing, and with approach shoes, Marc decided to try the roof instead.
This second pitch that Marc lead was a good 220ft of really enjoyable climbing. A nice bit of exposure too.
After Marc belayed me up he moved the anchor a few feet...
while I watched some climbers finish the Petit Grepon a few hundred feet below us. That rounded lump sticking out just a hair behind the ridge is Longs.
I think what Marc led was traditionally the 3rd and some of the 4th pitch. This meant I had the rest of the 4th and then the 5th pitch to link up. The pitch began with an offwidth (pictured above Marc in picture 15), followed by little run out friction section, before navigating some loose rock and gaining the ridge. A nut placed on the ridge.
Tied some webbing around a boulder just shy of the summit and brought Marc up.
About 5 hours after we tied in, Marc walks the final feet to the top.
Me on the summit, wrapping up the webbing so we can begin our descent. Probably spent less than 5 minutes on the summit in hopes of catching another group on the rappel route.
Marc on rappel with Longs Peak visible in the distance.
After the first rappel we scrambled down a bit to where another group, Kim and Mark, were in the process of doing a double rope rap. They let us on, and in turn I set up the last rap with my rope while they pulled theirs.
The last rappel put us at the east col, for a nice view of the Petit. From there it was a short scramble back to the start.
Marc making his way through the last bit of the Gash before we're back on the real trail.
Another look at Zowie on our way out. Definitely on our short list now too.
This area of RMNP is spectacular. I highly recommend checking out it if you haven't already. It was the first time Marc and I had been to this part of the park, but hopefully it won't be too long before we're back. Almost makes me wish ski season would hold off for a while.
Hope you enjoyed the TR.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):