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Warning mid-Sept. too late for Sharkstooth??
I first attempted Sharkstooth in Aug. 2006. Got shut down by rain before we even go through the Gash.
Spt. 18, 2009 Josh and I made another attempt. We hiked in from the trailhead at 4:30 A.M. and got to the base of the climb about 9:30. The last mile is a hell walk through a brutal boulderfield. Don't even dream you can do this 5-mile hike in 3 hours.
Sept. 18 the base of the climb was covered in snow and ice from previous storms. Due to treacherous conditions I had to break the first pitch into two pitches, I was wandering back and forth across the face trying to find rock without ice on it.
p2 (our p3) was exposed to the sun and relatively free from ice. Things warmed up, and I was climbing strong, starting to get my groove back after the scary ice climbing with rock shoes.
p3 had a 5.6 roof on it that felt pretty easy. This was supposed to be the third 155 foot pitch but turned into almost the whole rope. We're about 400 feet above the base of the climb and towering over the valley floor by thousands of feet. I am looking down on the top of Petit Grepon--the other famous pinnacle in the Cathedral Spires group, and I see climbers on the top of Petit Grepon getting ready to rap down.
I start p4 and notice storm clouds rolling in from the west. Temperature starts to drop dramtically as I place the first piece of pro and move up.
The end of p4 (our p5) ends at the first major ledge on the northeast ridge (see photo). As I build the anchor the sky turns black and the wind starts to blow.
(As we're moving quickly now we stop taking photos.)
Josh starts to move up, and I pull the rope, I begin to hear popping, and snapping sounds from the rope. The rope starts to hum and I feel it charged with electricity.
The sky is black and I hear thunder all around us. Ice pellets are falling--not snow, but not ice either but icy, hard small pellets that make everything slick and cold. I can't see any lightning due to low visibilty but hear thunder on all sides--and we're on a very exposed ledge 400-500 feet above our backpacks.
I yell at Josh over the wind to climb quickly--he climbs without even removing protection--he just unclips the rope and goes.
I get a huge jolt of electricity to the side of my head--not hit by lightning but more like I stuck my finger in a socket--enough to knock me sideways and yell "holy shit!"
Josh gets tot he top and we decide that inside of climbing to the top, and descending via the normal route, we would bail off the side of the ledge.
We sling a loose boulder on the ledge, and rappel off to the side of the ridge. Sling another boulder, make another rap. Walk across icy 4th class ledges to another good position, and then rappel down onto normal rap route and then downclimb icy 4th class terain into the col to the left side of Sharkstooth.
The steep snow gully at the base is filled with loose snow and loose rocks/boulders so we make our way very slowly down to our backpacks and warm clothes. After walking in waist-deep snow and ice for more than an hour we are pretty cold, but warm clothes and food help a great deal, and the storm blows through to the east.
We carefully walk out, and make it back to the car around dark.
Awesome day--one I will never forget.
Beware there are several large loose blocks on this route. One bad one is pyramid-shaped and has a perfect horn at the top to grab or sling. Beware if you pull on this it will fall on your belayer.
I marked this with chalk but obviously it won't be marked next spring.