First, a non-climbing dilemma: Big Snagtooth is technically south of SR-20, BUT it is included in Volume 3 of the Beckey guide, so in which category of TRs should I place this?
Short story: Two friends and I day-climbed 8330' Big Snagtooth this past Saturday under sunny skies and saw nary another soul on the bushwhack and summit.
Long story: My plans for Shuksan via Fisher Chimney died when my partner cancelled early last week. Luckily, my friends Wayne and Jaga were headed out to climb Big Snagtooth (8330'). Big Snagtooth is an infrequently climbed peak in the North Cascades that has no trail to the summit. The main reason people visit this mountain is to "tag" it on the Top 100 list. Wayne is vigorously chasing the Top 100, while I am only casually knocking them off (Wayne is on course to finish in 5 years; while at my rate, I will probably need 25 years!). I don't hear that many people jumping up and down to climb Snagtooth, so I decided to jump on the wagon while it was headed there.
Friday: Left Seattle at 6p on Friday; ate food in Burlington; camped at a trailhead near the pull-out.
Saturday: Left the car just a few minutes past 7am, following the climber's trail towards Silver Star. After crossing Early Winter Creek, we said good-bye to the trail for the rest of the day and headed southeast up along Willow Creek. For the next few hours, we 'schwacked our way up-valley until we popped out in the basin south/southwest of the 'Snags. A few pre-placed waypoints on the GPS prevented us from wasting much time during the forest navigation. We then turned south to scramble up a chossy gully to the southwest ridge, which takes you right up to the summit block. Instead of taking the standard "hidden" gully route with the chockstones, we opted to try climbing up the rappel route. From there, it was a short scramble to the base of the infamous summit block. I pulled on my rock shoes and free-climbed the summit block, dragging the rope behind me for my partners. (no shoulder stand required). By 1:30pm, we were all on the summit. No wind, sunny skies, no mosquitos, great views! We spent over an hour lounging on the summit.
On the descent, we rapped the summit block and rapped back down the normal rap route (two raps total), then walked back down the southwest ridge to descend our up-path via the dirty, loose gully. The rocks are REALLY chossy and loose here, so we had to be especially careful not to knock rocks on each other. Then back down through the woods, across the creek, and scramble a few hundred feet back up to the car. Nearly 12 hours car-to-car. Upon reaching the car, we ran into Valerie and Nate who had just returned from their climbing adventures on Chianti Spire! Made it home late Saturday night.
Gear used: rope (we took an 8.1mm 60m, but a 30m is more than enough)
#2 cam (used to protect the short 4th class climb to the first set of rap webbing)
two mid-sized nuts for a belay anchor
Gear not used but carried: ice axe, crampons (both of which are probably good for earlier in the season)
-Climb this mountain earlier in the season when snow covers more of the choss!
-Climbing the rap route is easy and straightforward if you don't want to worry about the verglass/ice/snow that other folks seemed to have found in the chockstone gully earlier in the season.
There ain't no trail, so get used to it:
Dirty gully with tons of loose scree to reach the ridge:
View of the summit block as you hike up the southwest ridge:
Summit register comes out -- not many visitors!
Wayne belays off the summit block:
Jaga on the lower rappel. Climb route marked in red:
Descending the dirty gully back to the basin:
Final slog back up the boulder field to the cars:
Our route went something like this: