Sport climbing
Alpine climbing NCCS rating
Grade II
Elevation Gain
3,100.00 ft (944.88 m)
7.00 mi (11.27 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Tooth has long been one of the most popular objectives for Seattle-area aspiring alpine climbers. It's only an hour from town and the standard trad South Face, which goes at 5.4, gets an incredible amount of traffic. There are a few other routes on the Tooth, but none of them deserved much traffic until now. In 2019, Jim Nelson and David Whitelaw put up a gorgeous seven-pitch route - the Tooth Fairy. It's well-bolted sport and features great views and even better climbing (the crux pitch is 5.9+).

This is an alpine objective, so knowing how to lead 5.9 sport isn't enough. You'll want to be solid on your multipitch climbing and descending. But if you're comfortable on alpine multipitch, this climb is a joy.


The Basics

  • Seasonality/Snow: The route itself is south-facing, so it'll dry out pretty early. There will be snow on the approach to Pineapple Pass for much of the year (from October to July), but this is a good thing, as Great Scott Bowl and Source Lake Basin are both much easier to travel through if the talus is covered. However, if you want to avoid snow, you should be able to in the height of summer.

  • Route Add-ons/Alternatives:

    • You can most easily link this up with a ski tour or a scramble to the summit of Bryant Peak, there aren't too many other rock objectives nearby.
  • Number of Days: Everyone does this in a day, there's no camping allowed nearby.

  • Navigation: Bring a map and/or a GPS, it can get a bit tricky out there.

  • Gear:

    • Good gear for scrambling and moving fast in the mountains.

    • Rope/Rack: 

      • Rope: A 60 or 70m

      • Rack: 13 draws plus two for your anchor (you'll want most to be alpine draws for rope drag). A few small cams if you want to belay the top. Standard lockers/anchors/rapping gear.

    • You’ll want an ice axe and traction (microspikes/crampons) if it’s still early season.

  • Pass: You'll need a NW Forest Pass (or America The Beautiful Pass) for your vehicle. If you don't have one, you'll likely be ticketed.

  • Traffic: You will see a lot of people if you attempt this route. Snow Lake Trailhead is one of the busiest in the state and while they're not all climbing the Tooth, the Tooth will be about as busy an alpine route as there is. Most of the traffic used to concentrate on the South Face, but the Tooth Fairy is getting increasingly popular. Go and enjoy the atmosphere, and if you see beginners making mistakes, be kind and remember you were once a beginner too. If you want solitude, there are multitudes of stouter routes in the Cascades. But none are as casual and fun as this one!


A Note on LNT

As this is one of the most highly traveled areas in Washington, make sure you're practicing and modeling good LNT practices. There will be a lot of other backcountry users around you, so make sure you're showing them with your actions why these wild places are important and how you can ensure that this area is safe for future generations of climbers.


The Trip

The Approach

You'll start at the incredibly popular Snow Lake Trailhead. Get on the Snow Lake Trail and head up the Alpental Valley. The trail will be busy but in good shape. Hike up 1.6 miles before coming to the Source Lake turnoff. Take a left at the sign and head toward the talus (or snow if it's early season). Cross the Source Lake Basin, contouring at around 4,000' before heading up the north-facing slopes under Great Scott Basin. You'll wind your way through trees up a steep slope. There's a use trail in here, try to find it if you can. At 4,400', you'll crest a lip and enter Great Scott Basin. Make your way up the jumbled talus or snow, looking up at the jagged peaks to your right.

Continue straight south toward the obvious pass - this is Pineapple Pass, a popular backcountry skiing zone. As you hike up, you'll come beneath the Tooth's northeast face. At 5,100', begin curving climber's right, staying left of a huge horn, up a rocky gully before reaching the saddle. You may see climbers at the base of the South Face above a steeper gully - don't try going up this gully unless it's filled with snow.

Once on the south side of the saddle, scramble northwest. Pass the notch at the base of the South Face and follow the cliff base left. Roughly 300' west of the South Face, you'll find the base of the Tooth Fairy. As of 2021, the base is beneath a large conifer sticking improbably out of the rock. Once beneath this conifer, look up and left and you should see the bolts of the Tooth Fairy.


The Climb

Follow the bolts up!

P1 (5.7) - 6 bolts

P2 (5.8+) - 13 bolts

P3 (5.7) - 5 bolts

P4 (5.8) - 7 bolts

P5 (5.9+) - 9 bolts

P6 (5.6) - 5 bolts

P7 (easy) - 1 bolt (no anchor on top, but it's easy terrain, sling a rock if you want to belay your partner up).


The Descent

You can either descend the route, rapping each pitch or descend the South Face, which will take 4 rappels. These are well-established rappels (and you can down scramble the middle section), but be aware that you'll almost certainly be descending over other parties, so be careful.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

NW Forest Pass

Open Year-round



Fun cruxes. Well-protected. Less traveled than standard route on Tooth.


Longer approach than sport climbers are used to.

Pets allowed

Not Allowed

Trailhead Elevation

3,140.00 ft (957.07 m)

Highest point

5,604.00 ft (1,708.10 m)


Big vistas



Typically multi-day


Permit required


Primary aspect

South facing

Class / Rating


Drinking water

Unfrozen water


Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Washington
Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Washington
Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Washington


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