Midway through the second pitch I recognized the word play going on with the name "Rotten Teeth". Apparently the FA's were hinting at the rock quality. Pitches 1 and 4 were quite nice, but the others have little to recommend them. Loose, decomposing (kitty litter) granite dooms most of the cracks on the route, and heavy lichen taints the rest. That said, it is a pretty marvelous route-finding accomplishment in that the route climbs in the vicinity of the steepest, tallest part of Big Rock, yet stays mostly below 5.10.
Recent guidebooks have claimed that the start of this route was destroyed. Not true:
Pitch 1: Climb a low-angle, but blank slab straight up to a small pine tree with slings - clearly visible from the ground. 3 bolts, 5.9, 90'
Pitch 2: (possible to link with P1) Climb a fun right facing flake to a nasty rotten chimney/dihedral. It's possible to climb the slab on the right on better rock. The dihedral tops out on a large ledge - step right across a slab and belay at a bolt under an overhang just left of the rock scar. Gear, 5.8, 110'
Pitch 3: Climb up right through the scar on low angle rock covered in debris. Work your way out the left side of the roof (there is a coffin-sized detached block projecting down from the lip of the roof, which my partner was unable to dislodge despite jumping up and down). Continue about 40' past the lip to belay at the base of the right-angling finger crack. Gear, save a #5 for the belay, 5.8, 120'
Pitch 4: Climb a right-angling finger tips crack up onto a clean slab (both guidebooks mistakenly describe this as left-angling). Protect with wires and small cams (5.10). Some of the footholds are exfoliating, which make this exciting. When the crack ends venture straight up on the face (5.8) to a bolt then head to the left edge of the roof above where the next bolt waits over the lip. Continue up into a large water groove, traverse left into a protected alcove with bushes and belay at the base of a wide crack. (Thin gear, 2 bolts, 5.10, 200')
Pitch 5: Climb the wide crack straight up to an overhang, traverse left around the overhang and belay on gear in this vicinity. Better belay gear is available before the 'hang, but continuing past it yields a better stance and less rope drag for the next pitch. gear, 5.8, 80-100'
Pitch 6: Climb straight up the left of two bushy cracks. Don't worry, soon the bushes disappear, at which point the rock turns to shit. Belay somewhere at the base of the awesome-looking left facing dihedral (a #5 is nice for the belay) gear, 5.8, 80' (possible to link with the previous or next pitch)
Pitch 7: Climb the left facing dihedral on initially bad rock that turns to lichen-covered rock. Where the dihedral heads left into a roof, we found it helpful to traverse left onto the slab to avoid lichen. Fortunately there are good nuts available in the dihedral (I left two fixed). Regain the crack at the lip of the roof and belay above on a right angling flake-crack. Wide and thin gear, save some hand-sized pieces for the belay, 5.9/5.10, 110'.
Pitch 8: Climb right, then left on a nice slab crack, then straight up a lichen covered groove/crack that seems too steep to be 5.9. Stem and hand jam up this thing for 10', then follow a flaring groove up a lower angled slab to a big ledge. Some hand sized cams are nice for the belay. gear, 5.9+, 120'.
Pitch 9: Scramble up low angled slabs with intermittent gear. Not at all "unprotected" as claimed by some guidebooks. This may be two pitches if you decide to pith it out, or a short simul-climb. gear, easy 5th class.
Pitch 10: Down climb a wide crack/groove thing to a saddle between the summit you're on and the main saddle a wide cam is nice to protect the second on this section (5.6). Continue left and down through a gully/chimney to a really nice sandy belay alcove.
Pitch 11: Climb up a large right facing dihedral via a widening crack to the top of the pedestal. It is possible also to follow a thin, flaring crack on the slab with better rock and smaller gear. gear, 5.9, 80'
Pitch 12: Climb straight up nice, low angle slabs with intermittent gear to the summit. Also not unprotected. Possible to link this with the previous pitch and some simul-climbing. gear, easy 5th class, 150'?
Descent: Head 200' due East to two short raps, or one approx 150' rap.
All in all, I would not recommend this route to a friend, but if you're a robust South Platte climber looking for a great meandering adventure, you might enjoy this route.
Start at the far left base of the wall, at the tow of the North Summit. You should spot some bolts on a slab, ending 100' up at a tree.
Be sure to check out Pete's photo on this website, which I found very helpful. None of the currently available guidebooks have accurate topos for this route.
Quickdraws, slings, one set of cams, and we placed a #5 C4 frequently. All the bolts on the route (about 6) are old rust quarter inchers, but they were tight (Sept 07).
By Pete Williams
From: Dinosaur, Colorado
Apr 3, 2008
Mike's assessment of the route seems fair enough, though if you like long routes and want a tour of the north buttress, it's not really a bad route. The rotten rock is limited to just a few sections, doesn't make the climbing unsafe, and the climb still gets you up there in some cool places.
Sure, obviously the name puns on the quality of the rock (what would one expect with a name like that?), but we also had in mind the results on ourselves of indulging in more rock candy than is healthy--after Fields of Dreams we wanted even more, but the experience decayed a bit. On the other hand, we launched up on this route anticipating the need for a few points of aid, and the weather really sucked, yet we pulled the route off in a day and all free. We were pretty proud of that.
The FA was October 20, 1979. A note on the bolts: the original ascent used just two, on the slab above the diagonaling crack on pitch four. The slab is moderate, but by this point the wind was gusting so badly that the job of drilling was a bit of a nightmare. At times I had to stop and hunker down with my head on the rock to keep from being blown off.
We didn't place any bolts on the first pitch because we were under the mistaken impression that Leonard Coyne had already climbed the pitch as the start to Hot Ice Cream. So the first pitch was third classed by the leader, trailing the rope. We later learned that Leonard's climb started closer to Fields of Dreams, so I came back with Mack Johnson and placed two bolts on the first pitch. Unfortunately, some time even later some idiot placed a third at the bottom, so close to the ground as to be useless. Even with the two bolts, the first pitch has some substantial runouts, so I felt it made the pitch reasonable while preserving a bit of the feel of the first ascent.
FYI, if you climb this route early in the season, expect to encounter snow in the big gully separating the false summit from the final dome.
By Christopher Jones
From: Denver, Colorado
May 26, 2008
rating: 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
I climbed this route yesterday with my friend Andy Beekman. We had a great time even though the rock isn't the best quality in places. Yeah, sometimes holds would just break off and your feet would slip on the lichen (especially pitch 7) but it was still a fun adventurous long South Platte climb that I'll never forget. If you decide to climb this route I highly recommend wearing a helmet.
By Shane Z
Apr 5, 2011
Runout and adventurous on decomposing granite. I bailed from the upper reaches of the fourth pitch due to high wind velocity on runout slab. The two green screamers and four blue/orange Petzl biners were left on the accompanying bolts as was the rap anchor at the start of the pitch. Much credit is given to the first ascentionists on their accomplishment; however, I probably won't return to complete the climb. A cold beer from the Southern Sun awaits the person who returns the biners and rap anchors.
By Jason Haas
Jul 21, 2013
All the bolts on this route were replaced in early June by myself, Dan Hickstein, and Greg Miller. Hardware was supplied by the ASCA and BCC. Please support these organizations if you don't already.
By Mack Johnson
Dec 25, 2016
I was surfing MP for cool photos, clicked on that diagonal splitter, and lo and behold I see myself from decades ago! EBs with wool socks and no leg loops :-)
Pete W. did a good job drilling pitch one, on lead, in no time. It was an exciting day out. Most of the rock is just fine. I remember one bulge on an upper pitch gave us both a hard time, but I could not make it out from Mike Anderson's description---the 5.9/5.10 one? 2 ropes needed to rappel off the uphill side. Great to know bolts are being replaced on these things.