Access Issue: Placement of bolts/fixed anchors is prohibited in Wilderness Study Areas Details


One of the gems of the Organs, the tooth is home to some of the best routes found anywhere in the Organs. From the dripping springs area it is easily discernable as a beautifully clean looking wall just below "The Wedge", a large triangular shaped peak.

This is one of the few Organ walls featured in Dennis Jacksons "Climbing New Mexico". The Rosul-Dunning guide lists routes on the wall but adds this comment: "Many unreported climbs here". The listed climbs are all up the smooth faces on the west facing wall. And many variations can be done linking pitches on these climbs.

The wall is nicely shaded in the morning, and many of the routes remain shaded through-out the day, making them good destinations even during the hotter months.

Getting There

The approach is rather straightforward although more than one party has gotten lost and spent the day bushwhacking up thorny ravines. About 1/2 mile north on Baylor canyon Rd (from Dripping Springs rd) is a dirt rd on the right called Modoc Mine Rd (no sign). This is a very rough mining rd, go up it as far as you dare and park at one of the many pull-offs. Continue on ft up the rest of the road. You will pass by the tailings of Modoc Mine and the road takes you south over a few ridges before finally dying at a small clearing on the top of a ridge. From here there is a faint climbers trail heading directly uphill. The trail is marked by cairns and is actually fairly easy to follow. It passes a gorge before ascending directly to the Tooth. Scope out your route before you get to the base of the cliff, as it is difficult to see the routes from the base.

From the start of the climber's trail, the approach is around an hour. Hiking up Modoc Mine Rd may take you another 30min-hour.

8 Total Climbs

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Location: The Tooth Change
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Classic Climbing Routes at The Tooth

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Tooth or Consequences
Trad 4 pitches
5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b
Tooth Fairy
Trad 4 pitches
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
Tooth Extraction
Trad 5 pitches
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a
Tooth Decay
Trad 2 pitches
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Tooth or Consequences
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad 4 pitches
Tooth Fairy
5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b Trad 4 pitches
Tooth Extraction
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad 5 pitches
Tooth Decay
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a Trad 2 pitches
More Classic Climbs in The Tooth »

Sun & Shade

Weather Averages

Days w Precip
Prime Climbing Season
Anthony Stout
Albuquerque, NM
Anthony Stout   Albuquerque, NM  
That second photo of the tooth with the clouds is great! Looking from the first photo with blue skies to the second, with the weather looking all gnarly, gives two completely different perspectives of this area. Apr 22, 2006
I would like to second George's comments regarding the Tooth as I was with George on that particular "adventure". I must also say we were using route beta from Dennis Jackson's "Rock Climbing New Mexico" and the Rosul/Dunning "Organ Mountains Climbing Guide".

We started with the intent of doing "Tooth or Consequences". The first two pitches of "T or C" are great with adequate protection. However, as with a lot of Organ Mountain routes one could argue they may be a grade harder than the current ratings. Also, I would not encourage anyone to do the 5.8 R variation to the first pitch start. Looking directly down on it from the 1st belay it looks very hard with the crack pinched shut that last 10 to 15 feet?

The traverse from the second belay out onto the face of "T or C" was way more committing and dangerous than I was willing to invest. Probably 30' of traverse on polished granite to the first bolt with potential of a pendulum back into a corner if you blow it. The climbing and the protection did not look 10- to me or to George. We opted to head upwards on a combination of "Tooth Fairy" and "Tooth Extraction".

Suffice it to say after 4.5 pitches of climbing and getting out into "no man's land" on what was supposed to be a 5.8 traverse George and I decided to bail. It looked like a lot of parties had come to the same conclusion.

I would encourage only those climbers with strong 5.10 skills to venture onto the Tooth as it is a real test of mental composure. Lots of space between the 1/4" bolts and seams that are discontinuous.

With the long, steep approach I have never worked so hard for 4.5 pitches of climbing. That being said, the Tooth contains the nicest, cleanest granite I have encountered in New Mexico. Funny though, I can't wait to get back and finish those last 2.5 pitches. Probably won't be that last time I get "spanked" in the Organs! Dec 31, 2007
The Tooth was climbed first with aid (Lee Davis &???). The most common first two pitches (1--up the crack and traverse right to corner belay; 2--around the corner and up the left facing dihedral and up to a belay) are the first pitches of Tooth Fairy, the first free route. It was climbed before T/C.

see later posted information about the Tooth from an old issues of NM Climber (1976-1979; Mark Dalen editor). Mar 15, 2008
FA with aid by Lee Davis and Mark Milligan. The climb went up the Tooth Extraction corner, bat hooked some of the now Tooth Fairy pitch and generally got to the now 5th pitch on Tooth Fairy. Apr 2, 2008
The Tooth Standard FA with aid by Bill Hackett and Lee Davis. The route went up a hard corner on the right of the bottom of the Tooth. Then up the center section to the top of the now second pitch of Tooth Fairy. Next the climb went up and over a roof to a belay with old bolts. Climb right and then up and left then further left to the top of the now fourth Tooth Fairy pitch. The last pitch is the same as the current last Tooth Fairy pitch.

FFA of the Tooth Standard by Paul Horak and Paul Seibert ca. 1975. Apr 2, 2008
Bill Hacket and I decided to try the first ascent of the Tooth and ran into Lee Davis and another climber already on it. So we backed off, cranky and grumbly. At that time there were huge Ponderosa Pines (2' diameter) at the base of the climb; unfortunately, these were killed off by a brush/forest fire in the 1970's that burned off much of the southern part of the Organs. It took Lee a number of tries to work through the route, along with a number of partners. Sep 25, 2009
Karl seems to have it right. He calls it the hard right corner which went free on hexnuts in 75. Great overhangin crack. Yep, tooth fair was climbed for years on the "old standard 1/4 inch bolts.

Oh tooth extraction was named because Reed Cundiff pulled a loose block on his head. Thus tooth extraction Nov 18, 2009
To find the Modoc Mine Rd, head 1.4 mi (not ~0.5 mi) north on Baylor Canyon Rd from Dripping Springs Rd jct to 1st dirt road on right. Then semi-parallel BC Rd for a while before turning east at another jct. Or go 1.1 mi south from Topp Hut Rd to a 2nd entrance, also semi-paralleling BC Rd to jct. May 18, 2011
George Perkins
The Dungeon, NM
George Perkins   The Dungeon, NM
2 new sets of bolted anchors were added recently.

The best descent from the Tooth is 5 rappels down Tooth Fairy with (1) 70m rope or 60m rope. A 60m rope will be a rope-stretcher on some rappels. Compared to having 2 shorter ropes, using a single rope is less weight on the burly approach and is less likely to get snagged on trees and around blocks. Feb 22, 2015
Ian Harris
Las Cruces NM
Ian Harris   Las Cruces NM
In my opinion, the anchor at the top did not need to be replaced. It was on a comfy ledge. It is now semi hanging, at the top of Tooth Fairy. It's a little bit of an awkward spot on top of some loose looking blocks. I appreciate the bolting effort, but I'm sure the climbing community (including myself) would have liked to provide input on anchor location. Sep 21, 2016
Paul Hutton
Kansas City, MO
Paul Hutton   Kansas City, MO
What's the bolted pitch that starts from the ground and trends left, toward the blunt arête, away from the massive roof? Nov 11, 2018
Drew Chojnowski
Las Cruces, NM
Drew Chojnowski   Las Cruces, NM  
I think that's the unnamed 5.11D+ (?) shown in the old topo…. Nov 30, 2018