The Tooth-North Ridge, and Hemlock Peak 

With warm temperatures and moderate winds, I anticipated there being some dry rock out there for a late season scramble. I wanted something close since the day was going to be short...I slept in. The Tooth was close, not too long, and it was doable on this November day. The North Ridge is probably the easiest route to the summit. The climb is short but does offer some challenges...including getting to it.

I arrived at the Denny Creek Trailhead and by 10:30 I was hiking under the freeway with the sound of unmuffled compression brakes overhead. After hiking past Keekwulee and Snowshoe Falls, the trail crosses to the east side of Denny Creek then makes a long rising traverse followed by some switchbacks. At c.4200 feet the trail crosses a small rock slide (c.3.5 miles). Having not located the "path of sorts" mentioned in the guide, I started up on the right side of the rockslide then began a rising traverse to the right and crossed a stream. More talus and more traversing right led into a moderate forested slope. Now I headed straight up on a rib, through some light brush, then to the mostly snow covered talus NW of the The Tooth. 

The Tooth from the Denny Creek Trail

I traversed below the rocky (and mossy) crest of the North Ridge (on the west side) on rock, dirt and even some snow. A fairly obvious route gained the ridge at a small notch, from there I climbed up a short distance to the deeper and steeper notch referred to in the guide. The down climb into the notch is difficult mainly because of a disfigured tree in the notch. Getting out of the notch was more intimidating. The east side of the notch drops steeply. I climbed  left on good but somewhat wet rock then back to the right (class 4) to reach a rappel sling and slabs (still of the west side of the crest). The slabs were, for the most part, dry but there were some remaining patches of snow. The slabs were, however, broken enough that there was usually good footing without having to use friction alone. I crossed the slabs, avoiding the wet rock, then made a short scramble on the ridge crest to the summit.

The NE view from The Tooth


Kaleetan Peak, Hemlock Peak, Bryant Peak and the top of Chair Peak from The Tooth

I descended to the rappel slings and made a 45 foot rappel into the notch then descended to the saddle between Hemlock and The Tooth. Hemlock seemed like a good vantage point to view the North Ridge of The Tooth from, but would not be worth the effort to climb if you were not already this close.

Rainier from Hemlock Peak


The Tooth from Hemlock Peak

After descending from Hemlock Peak I headed back down to toward the Denny Creek Trail. I took a slightly different route and made a startling discovery...

It is safer to climb The Tooth than to fly to it...

Cascade Alpine Guide, Volume 1, 2nd Edition; Fred Beckey; Pages 146-148, 153