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Sharkstooth
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South Prow 

YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b

   
Type:  Trad, Alpine, 7 pitches, 950', Grade III
Consensus:  YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b [details]
FA: unknown
Page Views: 3,621
Submitted By: Leo Paik on Jul 18, 2002

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South Face of Sharkstooth.

Description 

"An enjoyable romp up the obvious South prow of the tower" (Gillett) with lots of option climbing (a la Gill). You can dial up and down the difficulty up this alpine rock between 5.7 and 5.11. This felt more mountaineering-ish due to the many rests/ledges. Due to the wandering nature of the route, a camera seemed underutilized.

Approach: Approach via Loch Vale, Sky Pond, to the base of the Petit Grepon (allow 2-2 1/4h). From here, angle left and up around a 300 foot-high rock buttress (left and higher than the base of the Petit). Scramble 3rd class (with sections you don't want to fall) towards the base of the SW face (shady). Stay left of this last 100 foot buttress and find a ledge system. Allow 30-40 minutes for this last bit.

Description: There are probably nearly infinite variations to this route. We tried to aim for the prow and generally take the path of least resistance with a few detours. I'll describe one possibility, our path. There is lots of rocks on ledges. It was a 4 1/2 hour climb for slugs like us.

P1. We geared up on the left side of a fading, slightly-sloping ledge system. To the left, there was a previously-climbed crack in a dihedral system angling left (away from the prow). Instead, we traversed perhaps 45 feet right to a big flake with a wide crack on its left side. Face climb up to a crack and ledge system. Move right perhaps 20 feet to a chimney-like system. Continue up and right to a big ledge system in the sun. This is the only pitch in the shade. 5.7, 195 feet.

P2. We angled up and right (rather than traversing to the prow). Follow a big groove via face holds. Pass a set of 3 precariously-balanced rocks on the left, stand on the top of these rocks, move right and continue up to a ledge system 100 feet up. You could continue up this groove, but the holds seemed less positive here, so I traversed right to a ledge on the prow. 5.7, 110 feet.

P3. From here, pop up and on to the prow on excellent rock. Continue up past short walls, angling slightly right. We aimed for a good-sized, rightward-pointing flake. Find a 5.8 move here. Move up easier terrain to another big ledge. 5.8, 195 feet.

P4. Here there are certainly more challenging options. A sling above entices up on to more challenging ground. Seeking a path of least resistance, we traversed right around the prow and found a wonderful dihedral system just right of the prow. You can continue up and stretch it to a nice ledge. 5.7, 200+ feet. There are nice views down of the Petit Grepon and Penknife summits.

P5. Here you are again enticed onto more challenging terrain on the left up the bulging prow. We angled right to an obvious notch. There is a stretch of fractured rock just below the notch. Protect this judiciously. Rope drag prompted a short pitch. 5.7, 100 feet. There is a fixed HB quadcam up here.

P6. You can traverse the slab to the right, or down-scramble the ramp into the East gully system. It appears you can make the top but not so quickly. Find an anchor somewhere. 4th or 5.2, 190 feet.

P7. You can take a direct line to the top 5.6? or we traversed left to the prow again. Nice exposure on your left. We found 2 fixed pitons and then the top. 5.4, 150 feet.

The shark in the summit register seems to be gone!

Descent: From the South end of the summit area, find a 3 pin rap (one is blue) station just a few feet below the top. Rap down the East Gully 180 feet to a big slung flake with an old piton (you pass this on your 2nd to last pitch). You can rap and down-scramble this last bit if you have 50m ropes. The 2nd anchor, described by Rossiter, 100 feet right via a grassy traverse (that we used previously), did not seem to be there. Rap 195 feet, passing 2 less-confidence-inspiring rap stations, to a rap station with a piton, chockstone, a Wild Country Rock on the right. A much shorter rap gets you to The Gash. A marmot, however, easily scrambled up to this last rap station and continued upward. Gillett describes doing this descent with 1 rope. I would recommend 2 ropes, ideally 60m. From here, scramble down to the boulder field, to a cliff. Either find a grassy ramp system E->W (or descend the snow slot) past this cliff. Pass another large boulder field and connect with the Andrews Glacier trail. Allow 2-3 hours to descend.

Protection 

Standard light alpine rack. We brought 1 set of wires, 1 set of cams Aliens to #3 Friend, #7, 8, 9, 11 hexes. This route eats wires.


Photos of South Prow Slideshow Add Photo
A viable p1 start.
A viable p1 start.
Our second pitch.  Here instead of traversing we h...
Our second pitch. Here instead of traversing we h...
Our fourth pitch, directly up the prow!
Our fourth pitch, directly up the prow!
Sharkstooth, South Prow profile from Central Buttr...
Sharkstooth, South Prow profile from Central Buttr...

Comments on South Prow Add Comment
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By Brian Hansen
From: West of Boulder, CO
Jul 24, 2002

This is a good description and agrees with the line my wife and I took on 7/21/02. On pitch 5, we angled left to the prow and were rewarded. After treading lightly on a few loose blocks, a short steep headwall on white rock (5.7, fixed hex) led to a wide chimney and then the flat grassy terrace at the top of the south prow. It was natural to continue up the remainder of the prow to the summit, as described above.
By William McGehee
From: Choctaw, OK
Jul 7, 2003

A little "helpful" beta about the start here. I just went to conquer the South Prow this weekend with a friend. Hiked up to the base of the Sharkstooth to leave our gear up high and make the hike unburdened in the morning (a GREAT idea by the way...). We ran into another party, having encountered the EXACT same problem we did. We followed instructions precisely and couldn't find the start of the South Prow. A bit of advice: after careful observation, the start appeared to be approximately 100 feet to the west of the easternmost visible point on the Prow from a southern perspective. Don't hike up to the top of the precarious 3rd Class area with a funky few technical moves into another boulderfield/notch.

This is just what I experienced/presumed was the problem this weekend. Anyone have better beta, please let me know. I HAVE to make that climb sometime!~William
By Brian Hansen
From: West of Boulder, CO
Jul 7, 2003

William, the description of the first pitch in the above write-up sums it up well. We found it pretty easily, without having read this description first. Scramble up the gully on the left side of the prow. A few hundred feet up the gully, a sloping ledge leads out to the right (south). A few tens of feet out to the right on this ledge, there is a big flake with a wide crack behind its left side. This steep portion is about 20-25 feet tall. Climbing the flake provides access to the prow.
By George Bell
From: Boulder, CO
Sep 9, 2004

When you start this climb, you should be in a gully which reaches for the notch north of the Sharkstooth, the right side of this gully is an impressive vertical wall which is the NW Face of the Sharkstooth. This start area is probably higher than most people think. To reach this area you need to gain well over half the altitude of the Petit Grepon (from base to summit). If you stay left enough, you can reach this area on class 3 terrain. At the end we actually climbed into the start of the gully and then dropped down to the right to the starting area.

There are several options for pitch 1 and I think we chose the easiest, but loosest alternative (farthest right, and near a prow). I don't recommend our start, I think the start in the description is probably better (maybe 50' left of where we started, assuming we were in the same place!). On pitch 2, we headed up and right rather than traversing, this was fun. The pitches on the prow are excellent but it's easy (and recommended) to get on terrain harder than 5.7 by staying right on the prow.

Up higher we were always wondering where we were supposed to leave the prow. It would be more logical to simply stay on or near the prow all the way, but it's not clear how hard this is (I'm sure it has been done).
By Stich
From: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Sep 10, 2004

It's difficult to say if we climbed the entire South Prow back in July, but we did link up to many of the pitches I think. We headed up the gully between Sharkstooth and the Petit for maybe 300 vertical feet of 3rd and 4th class scrambling. At a point that looked good, we hopped on Sharkstooth and trended right as we climbed, eventually hitting the East Gully at the very top. There was a fixed pin in a 5.8ish line to the left of East Gully. We used the East Gully raps to get to the saddle and then walked over to the Petit's raps to return to Sky Pond.
By Brian Hansen
From: West of Boulder, CO
Sep 10, 2004

A bivy at Sky Pond works well, though we couldn't find any caves.
By orin salah
Aug 8, 2007

I recently went back to the Sharkstooth after being thwarted by the first pitch on my first attempt four years ago. I still didn't find the 5.7 opening pitch but was able to get up to the grassy ledge via another option. The first pitch I used is probabaly the same as the one reffered to as the "previously climbed corner" with a crack in it.

There are two right-facing dihedrals, the rightmost with an obvious crack in it. They are maybe twenty feet left of the ledge in the route description above. I climbed the right dihedral for maybe 60' before moving over to the dihedral on the left. It was about 100' of tricky climbing, maybe 10-, to reach the grassy ledge. This pitch may be the start to the South Face route mentioned in Gillett's guide book. We traversed right along the grassy ledge for about a hundred feet to reach the prow and from there enjoyed five more pitches to the summit. We also stayed left along the prow and climbed through the section of chossy white rock with the fixed hex to reach the ledge just before the summit.

Another note, if you are belaying at the base of the chossy, white rock it is over two hundred feet to the summit/rappel station, the climbing is easy but if you want to stay roped up it must be broken into two short pitches, one to the ledge and one up the final headwall to the summit.
By John Korfmacher
From: Fort Collins, CO
Sep 4, 2012

Al Wiedmann and I got on the first pitch of this route (I think) as described by Orin Salah above...by mistake. We were actually planning on a casual run up the NE Ridge, without realizing that the route starts on the OTHER side of the mountain! Anyway....

We tried two of the several RFDs in the area. They all seem to start off with about 50 feet of enjoyable climbing, then deteriorate into steep, insecure 5.10 ground with a thick encrustation of crumbly, gray lichens and less-than-awesome pro. I flailed and cursed for a while, and then the rain gave us the excuse we needed to retreat.

The view of the south face from the base of the crag is not exactly inspiring, and I'm left wondering why one would scratch through the approach and first pitch to reach the steep, chossy-looking and chaotic terrain above. Anyone who can follow a route description on this face is a master of the art!
By Chris Zeller
From: Boulder, CO
Sep 10, 2012
rating: 5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c

Awesome climb on an awesome formation. Bring one small pack between you and overtop the summit. This route serves up so much adventure so close to home. Make sure you have a good weather window, and be prepared for alpine rock climbing and the climbing is splendid. I agree with the 5.8 rating for P3. As with all alpine climbs of this size, there are many possibilities for the exact line on a big face like this. Be solid at the grade.