OverviewThe route we climbed on the Molar Tooth doesn’t quite match Beckey’s description of the North Ridge West Side. While I hesitate to call it a first ascent, I will name it by how we climbed the peak. The West Rib is a short but well defined ridge that offers several pitches of Class 4 and lower Class 5 climbing on solid rock. The rib ends at the north end of the longer flat bench as shown on the North Ridge route. The last pitches are on the summit block, more or less on the North Ridge. The rock here is also solid, the climbing about 5.3 or so. Protection is very good.
See the approach from the west description on the main Molar Tooth page. The map below shows what probably was described in the Beckey guide versus what we did.
Route DescriptionI believe that the Beckey guide directs you to the main gully that goes to the West Face of the Molar in order to climb the North Ridge West side route. This gully looked fairly nasty with lots of loose rock laying on steep slabs. The rock of the north end of the west face matches Beckey's description of friable.
However, to the north is another, smaller gully that is fairly clean and less steep. The West Rib lies between these two gullies. One ascends the northern gully until the West Rib starts to rear up. Just where the rock turns from red to gray, find a good place to access the crest of the rib. It shouldn’t be harder than Class 4. Now follow the rib, or stay slightly south on it, for about 3 short pitches to the big flat bench in the middle of the north ridge. Nothing harder than 5.3 or so was encountered. The rock is excellent except for lichen cover and the pitches were easy to protect. Since the rib is fairly broad one could make this more challenging, if desired. It also looked like one could start the climb lower down on the rib, although the red rock is friable and the climbing perhaps not as pleasant.
Once one reaches the broad bench in the middle of the North Ridge, clmb along it south (Class 3, but exposed) to a notch. Downclimb about 8 feet into the notch. From this notch it is about 2 short pitches of 5.3 up the North Ridge to the shoulder of the summit. From here it is Class 2 to the summit (care should be taken – lots of very loose rock and somewhat exposed).
Descent: one 30 m rappel from the summit shoulder to the notch, two 30 meter rappels from the north end of the bench back down between the West Rib and North Ridge into the gully.
Essential GearWe used twin 30 meter ropes. Standard rack with adequate slings. Most of the cracks took smaller to middle sized cams and/or nuts. Hard hats advised.
Since this peak is seldom climbed, bring extra webbing to replace old webbing at the rappel points. Descent rings are at the main rappel stations.