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The Tooth

Alpental Valley

July 22, 2013

Todd Kilcup was getting married later that day so several of Todd's friends and co-workers met at the Alpental parking lot at 6am to celebrate by climbing the Tooth! Ryan White had recently purchased a house at Alpental so more than half of the crew were a little blurry eyes from the late night festivities the day before! Derek Quintanilla and I drove up from Seattle so we were reasonable bright eyed and bushytailed!

Carson Guy and Peter Moore, on the other hand, were not. I'm not exactly sure what the opposite of bright eyed and bushtailed is, but I'm pretty sure these two were the poster children for it. Jeremy Prins and Spencer Baebler were somewhere in between! The man of the hour showed up, fashionably late, with his friend Derrick, and our skiing buddy, Travis Talbott, and the ten of us merrily and not so merrily jogged and listed up the Snow Creek Trail!

I had been out of town at my family reunion in Leavenworth so I missed the memo which clarified that we were climbing the Tooth instead of making the Lundin-Snoquamie traverse. All I remember hearing from Todd was to, "pack light". So I did. I brought my Ganda rock boots, sunglasses, and a hat. I had to borrow two carabiners from Ryan and a double sling from Spencer but I was able to fashion a suitable climbing and rappelling kit.

All but Derek and Spencer, I believe, had climbed the Tooth before so we made great time contouring around from the Source Lake overlook turnoff, across the firm snowpatch and up through the forest to the Great Scott Bowl. Somewere after the forest but before the boulder field, we lost Peter and Carson. But with eight people, it wasn't until we reached Pineapple Pass when we realized they weren't behind us. No worries. With this many climbers it would be awhile before they started climbing anyway. Or so I thought!

At the base of the climb everyone (who got the memo) put on their harnesses and started up the first pitch. I think I had a 30m rope that Todd handed me at the parking lot but the other rope was with the sluggards, Carson and Peter, so Travis, Todd and Jeremy started soloing up. I was happy to have the rope but the only problem was Todd had the rack. So he downclimbed and placed gear while Spencer, Ryan, Derrick, Derek and I tied into the rope I brought up. I had never simul-climbed with a party of five, and I don't think I would do it again. But it all worked out for everybody except for Spencer's Android. While snapping a hero-shot of our crack-five-person-rope-team, the slippery device decided to take a header and proceeded to explode about 15 feet above me.

Since I was the closest to the fallen phone, I scrambled over to it while Derrick scrambled down and Derek Q scrambled up to give me enough slack to reach it! In the words of Tenacious D, "That's teamwork!" I first found the cover, then the phone, then the battery. Spencer called down nervously and asked how it had fared. "Not really great", I replied as I tried to determine if the cracks in his screen were really just wrinkles in his protective film. They weren't.

We all made it up to the top and were enjoying four Rainier Tall-Boys that Jeremy and Spencer and purchased and Derek had hauled up. No sooner had the "crack" of the can opening disappeared in the wind, when over the lip of the route appeared Carson and Peter! I guess we knew how to motivate them out of their painful, panhygrous, promenade due to their pastance of patation.

Even so, we all rallied together at the summit for a group photo then proceeded to downclimb, rappel and downclimb some more.

But the story does not end here, dear readers! For while most of the group had worked together at one time or another at REI, a few of the newer green-vesters had not had the profound pleasure of experiencing the mirth that surrounds Carson. They had only heard of his many fiascos; never having the opportunity to witness first hand, his egregious exploits. All the exposed downclimbing had exacted a toll on his bodily functions and he found it necessary to evacuate his bowels, not down in the forest where his gift to the mountain could be burried 12" deep, 100' away from any bodies of water. No, he chose to do his deed right at the base of the climb. Now, even Carson knows that this was not the appropriate place to leave mostly-solid human waste, so he responsibly chooses to pick up and toss his feces down the rock face that we all have to down climb. Well, done, sir!

Everyone loves Carson but even his mother would have a difficult time not cursing his name while carefully downclimbing the gulley. Personally I was climbing by smell as much as I was by sight. There are few times I was as careful with my hand and foot placements as I was on that terrifying descent. But past transgressions are quickly forgotten and we were soon, laughing and joking back down to the trailhead.

Thank you all for yet another memorable ascent (and forgettable descent) of this classic route!

And lest I forget, Congratulatios, Todd and Ellen!