Peak(s):  Teakettle Mtn  -  13,819 feet
Date Posted:  08/21/2009
Date Climbed:   08/08/2009
Author:  d_baker
 Teakettle Mountain  

August 8, 2009

Teakettle Mountain (13,819')
"Coffeepot" (13,568')

San Juan Range

Trailhead: Yankee Boy Basin @ 4WD parking
Route: SE (southeast) ridge
Distance: ~3 miles RT (roundtrip)
Elevation Gain: ~2800'

Climbers: Greg Long, Dave "Hoot" Gibson, and Darin Baker

Gear: daypack w/Essentials, helmet, harness, belay/rappel device, locker, prusiks, rappel ring & webbing for rappel, 30m 8mm rope, 3 cams (#'s: .3, 1, and 3), shoulder length slings w/biners

Special thanks to Hoot for taking so many great shots of our climb, and for sharing them in this TR.

On my list of goals for the summer of '09 were to summit a couple of the (technically) harder 13er's in the San Juan's. Specifically, I wanted to climb Dallas and Teakettle.
Unfortunately, I was rained off of a Dallas attempt in mid-July, so I was down to Teakettle on my list of hopefuls.

Dave "Hoot" Gibson and I discussed climbing this one together, so we set the weekend of August 8th for an attempt.
The week leading up to the climb, I also asked Greg if he was interested in climbing it. As it turns out, he was going to be in the area already climbing Sneffels and the Wilson's, so he joined our team.

With Teakettle having a 5th class finish, we packed climbing gear to protect it. The three of us are all capable of leading it, but who would be the lucky one to tie into the sharp end?
I expressed my interest of leading it to Hoot, and he obliged my desire since he got his "alpine leading fix" on the crux pitches of Crestone Needle's arte the week before.
And I don't think it mattered to Greg, since he was an add-on to our team.

We each drove separately to the TH (trailhead), since we had different itineraries before and after the climb.
One lesson I learned while driving to Ouray on Friday was "how to use cruise control" in my truck. But this was after the State Patrol gave me a "friendly" reminder the speed limit is 65mph on Hwy 50. Sigh....

The Approach
Hoot car-camped next to me in Yankee Boy near the 4WD parking/bathroom on Friday night, and Greg met us just down the road near the start of our approach.

We set off at 5:50am once introductions were made (between Hoot and Greg).
Luckily, the vegetation in the meadow was dry, so we didn't get an early morning dew soaking from the knee high plants through this area.

The view of our start taken from the road. (Picture was taken on Friday night.)

The red line is our approximate line up the slopes beneath Coffeepot. The blue is our approximate descent from our climb of Coffeepot.

It was a cool and cloudless morning, as we plodded up the hill using Roach's route description as our guide.

Greg working his way up the initial slopes. His truck can be seen below, in the small pullout.

Once above the grassy slopes, we were "welcomed" by this...

(Picture by Hoot)

The next few hundred feet was a wearisome pile of crap, but overall I don't think it's that bad.
However I think it's relative to what one has been climbing lately, because for me, recent climbs of "T0" and Thunder Pyramid have probably tainted my view on what is loose and what's "loose."

We reached the ridgeline below Coffeepot around 7:45am, where we took in some views and at the same time previewed our destination.

Teakettle Mountain
The "black gully" is right of center in bottom of picture.

(Picture by Hoot)

Descent gully as seen from the benchmark on the SW (southwest) side of Coffeepot. The bottom of the black gully can be seen in the center/top of photo.

The three of us regrouped at the top of the descent gully. We tried staying on each other's heals while going down this, because it is a mix of dirt/scree/small talus and we didn't want to knock debris on one another.

We safely got to the bottom of this gully and started out traverse to the black gully. Thankfully the traverse is better than the descent gully.

Hoot enters the black gully...

Hoot and Greg stayed on climber's right going up, as I went up the left side.
Reading about the black gully had me thinking this was going to be miserable. But once in it, I didn't find it to be as bad as I expected.
(Again, this might be due to previous climbs I've been on.)

At the top of the gully, we knew there were two options for exits. The exit is essentially a Y, the left (or west) being rated at class 3, and the right (or east) "goes" at class 4.
Hoot and Greg took the left branch, and I took the right.

I'm not sure why it's rated class 4, as I found it to be nothing more than a narrow sandy gully with a few loose rocks in it. I stemmed across the gully in sections so I wouldn't knock down some of the rocks, but other than those moves, I would call it class 2+.

Here's a picture of me down-climbing it on our return....

(Picture by Hoot)

As you can see, I'm facing out, as I did going down this whole section. (I don't face out on class 4!)

Above the black gully, we traversed left (west) along a good climber's trail. The black gully was the last of the "difficult" sections until the summit block.

Hoot and Greg on the traverse after the black gully.

A little further along the trail, we found the sandy ascending gully that led us to a small bench with expansive views!

Before long, we were at the summit block where we took turns taking pictures in the "handle" of Teakettle.
What a cool little feature!

Me in the handle with Dallas Peak in the background

The Climb
Next up was the summit block itself.
There was some discussion about scrambling the crux. Once I looked at it though, I said "nope, I'm not scrambling that!"
I thought there was too much risk to scramble it, so I chose to use the rope since we had it anyway.

Hoot stood back to take pictures while Greg gave me a belay as I led the short pitch.
I tied into the middle of the rope, therefore leaving two separate strands for Greg and Hoot to tie into.

To protect the belay, I placed a #.3 in a vertical crack at the first step onto the block.

(Picture by Hoot)

I stepped into the alcove at the base of the crack system, where I fiddled with my #1 for a good placement (because the crack is flared).
Once I was happy with the placement, I took a few minutes to figure the next moves. I've read that some people will stay in the crack/chimney, but I opted to stem across and move onto the face.

(Picture by Hoot)

(Picture by Hoot)

Near the top of the short face....I used my knee. Sigh.
I take pride in not using my knee, whether on rock or ice. In fact, I've been known to give others a hard time for using their knee instead of finding a good foot!
Personally, I think it's poor form to put a knee down, because there's usually a foot placement somewhere waiting to be used!
Oh well. Next time I'll climb it clean!

I topped out around 9:10am, put in a #3 for a back-up to the anchor, and readied the belay for Greg.

Here, Greg is wishing he was taller than 5'2" so he could get his leg a little higher!

(Picture by Hoot)

Greg, being a little shorter than me, "semi-struggled" a little for the longer reaches, but came through just fine. (Note: he's not really 5'2" but more like 5' 3-1/2" when wearing hiking boots! Ok, I don't know how (not) tall he is, but he's shorter than my 6' frame.)

Greg topped out and next up was Hoot. He made quick work of the pitch and soon joined us on the summit.

Some guy from Boston that I met on the summit...

Oh wait. That's Greg!

Mount Sneffels right of center, Dallas is the knobby peak to the far left of center.

We stayed on the windy summit for a few minutes taking pictures.
Then we checked the anchor one last time before using the pre-existing slings/rap ring prior to rapping off.

We were all off by 10:05am, and made our way back the way we came.
At the base of the black gully, Greg descended from there as Hoot and I went back to climb Coffeepot.

Hoot and I made our way back to the other gully and "joyfully" re-ascended that pile of crap.
Once back on the ridge, Hoot took the lead on Coffeepot, placing one cam (# ?) in the back of the chimney.
He put me on belay and I soon joined him on the summit of this neat little tower!

Hoot on top of Coffeepot, with Yankee Boy Basin below.

We rapped off, once again using pre-existing webbing and ring.

From Coffeepot, I spied a possibility for a different way down (than using our ascent line), so I headed to the SE (southeast) a little to check it out.
I told Hoot it looked good, so we went with it.
It turned out to be a decent scree ski down!

Once at the base of our scree-ski gully, we (or I) headed back towards the grassy slopes we used in the morning. Hoot "spied" another way down. ;-)
But I think it cliffed out, I mean, I don't think it played out like he hoped!

We were back at the truck at 12:50pm.

Hindsight & Personal Notes
I think this mountain was a nice climb and I would certainly do it again! In fact, I've heard of a better, different approach that avoids Yankee Boy. Hmm....I'll have to give it a try!
Conversely, I've heard others say (or write) that they would probably never return. I guess it comes down to one's experience on the mountain that day. My experience on this day was a good one!

Additionally, I think the approach and the route itself is straight forward without any route finding issues. However, I don't think this mountain is suited for a beginner use to having a trail and without a background of going up loose rock. Not to mention a low 5th class finish.

Speaking of 5th class finish, this was my first alpine lead! It was short, but I still feel good about it.

In hindsight though, my fiddling with my placements on lead are due to not climbing trad often enough. I also think I should have tried my #3 in the crack, but a little higher than my #1 placement.
With that said, it did the job, at least for the mental part since I didn't actually fall on it!
And I'm glad we had a rope and pro for the finish.
It was also nice to get at least one of my 5th class peaks I was hoping for.

Gas for the 290mi (RT) trip: $82.65
Fine for driving 79mph in a 65mph zone: $169.50
Cost for a weekend in the mountains? Priceless!

Thanks for reading,


 Comments or Questions

Coffee, Tea, or Ticket?
08/21/2009 21:48
Nice report! Looking forward to this and many of the other techies down in the San Juans. Good write up and pics!

Chicago Transplant

08/21/2009 21:58
Great report and photos, I love Teakettle! (Duh, look at my avatar ) Count me in the ”I would do it again” group. Looks like you had a really enjoyable day.


Nice Job!
08/21/2009 22:31
Kiefer, slynn4_13run and I did Teakettle and ”Coffeepot” on monday and had basically the same experience you all had. I would definitely do it again, even with the lame amounts of loose rock on the approach ascent. It amazes me that besides those two gullies that the approach never really exceeds class 2, sure doesnt look that way from the TH.


08/21/2009 23:10
Even though Dallas was a no-go, (I remember the weather from that trip of yours started off questionable), at least you got a decent backup prize.
Teakettle is no doubt a good, short climb. Congrats on a great summit!


Congrats on the lead
08/22/2009 00:38
...and don‘t be so hard on yourself in re: ”knee guilt.” I think it‘s a much bigger issue on ice, anyway.
Really nice report, Darin. That guy from Boston is at least 5‘7”, maybe 5‘8”... he just seems shorter ‘cause he has such a low voice.


08/22/2009 03:33
I love that all the comments are about the actual climb and all I can think is that cop was an a-hole for giving you a fine for less than 20 over


Another fine report...
08/23/2009 14:55
That‘s a cool mountain. I enjoyed your write-up. I think I learned a few things! .


08/23/2009 16:55
Fine climb and way to go! Tks for publishing a great TR and shots. Fantastic shot of you with Dallas in the background. You have me pysched up to give it a go. How may pieces did you lay down? All cams? Noticed all wearing hiking boots. Any though on bringing climbing shoes for this section?


08/24/2009 01:03
Thanks everyone for your comments.

Re: boots vs. rock shoes.
Comes down to one‘s personal experiences and comfort level. I was fine in boots. Although I‘ve scrambled a lot in those boots (Asolo‘s GTX) and I‘m very confident with their performance. Plus, I‘ve experimented on TR climbing a 5.6 granite route while wearing them before. Climbed Wham in them too.

So...if you plan to lead Teakettle and you think you would be more confident in rock shoes, bring them. If you‘re going to second the pitch, you would likely do fine in boots.

Re: pro used.
It‘s in the report, but I used a #.3 BD (Black Diamond) cam to protect the belay and a #1 BD cam to protect the crux. Used a #3 BD cam as a backup to the anchor.

   Using your forum id/password. Not registered? Click Here

Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

© 2017®, 14ers Inc.