The Tooth, in Snoqualmie Pass, is a right of passage for any aspiring alpine climber in Washington. Its proximity to Seattle, straightforward approach, and relative ease of climbing makes it the most popular multi-pitch climb in the state. There are routes going up each side of the tooth. The South Face, comprised of 2-4 pitches of 5.4 climbing, gets the most traffic.
What Makes It Great
Start the approach toward the Snow Lake/Source Lake Overlook from the end of the Snoqualmie Pass/Alepental Ski Resort parking lot. In the summer, take this trail for about half a mile until you reach a stream running through a gully. Looking up, you should be able to see the Tooth and Pineapple Pass, the prominent notch below its summit, from where the climb begins. Leave the trail and head cross country towards it, eventually picking up a climbers trail and cairns that will guide you to the basin below the Tooth. From here, head up the talus to Pinneapple Pass on the Tooth’s left side. Traverse around clockwise to the start of the route up the south face.
From here, rope up and climb the obvious blocky system on the andesite face toward the summit. Many people leave their things at Pineapple Pass to not weigh themselves down on the climb. The climbing involves sections of 4th class scrambles, low 5th class, some 5.4 moves, and a possible 5.6 variation for the final pitch to the top.
In the winter, hike all the way to Source Lake and then up through the valley until you’re below the east face of the Tooth (forgo the summit trail for the sake of avalanche safety). The most common winter route is the Northeast Slabs. Other summer routes include the North Ridge (class 4 scramble), the East face (5.7), the Southwest Face (5.5), and the West Face (4th class to low 5th). For more information on these routes, see Jim Nelson’s guide, Selected Climbs in the Cascades.
Because on most days you can expect other parties will be following up the route after you, it is recommended to descend via the North Ridge in order to avoid getting in anyone’s way while rappelling. Bring ice axes for this descent, in case there is snow. If you do decide to rappel, find the first station at the top of the South Face variation – a tree with slings around it.
The views from the summit are hard to beat: a panorama that includes up close perspectives of local monoliths like Snoqualmie and Chair Peaks, the Stuart Range beyond, and even Mount Rainier down south. Even the sight of I-90 looks artful, gracefully winding through the pass below.
Who is Going to Love It
Those looking for an easy approach and pretty straightforward, multi-pitch route. It is an accessible yet substantial adventure that will whet your appetite to take on even bigger climbs in the Cascades. The South Face is the perfect route for newer trad climbers who are looking to get a taste of the alpine environment.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Park in the Snoqualmie Pass/Alpental Ski Resort parking lot. Pick up the trailhead from the end of the lot.