OverviewRound-trip distance: abt. 15-16 miles
Elevation gain: abt. 3,300 feet
The Northwest slopes and ridge of Dog Tooth Peak can be accessed from the Big Sandy Trailhead
. This can be accomplished in one day, or one can choose to camp near Big Sandy Lake. The route requires a nice six-mile approach on an easy-walking trail, followed by bushwhacking, route-finding and scrambling over and around large boulders to reach the summit.
Follow the Big Sandy / Meeks Lake Trail about six miles from Big Sandy Trailhead to Big Sandy Lake. Three mountains are visible behind the lake (to the northeast): Mitchell Peak
, Dog Tooth Peak
and Big Sandy Mountain. Dog Tooth is the middle of these three mountains, and the upper western slopes are visible above timberline. The route eventually will gain the visible northwest slopes and ridge-line.
Continue north on the Big Sandy Trail around Big Sandy Lake and come to a signed fork in the trail. Follow the left (north) trail toward Jackass Pass, and continue on the cairned trail along the bottom of large slabs, which is the base of Big Sandy Mountain and eventually Dog Tooth Peak.
Stay on the trail until an unnamed lake comes into view below. This is the end of the approach.
As soon as an unnamed lake comes into view below the Jackass Pass Trail, turn uphill (east) and scramble up solid rock slabs (class 2) for several hundred feet. There is no trail, so just continue uphill and angle left (north) until arriving at or near a large flat around 10,800 feet. From here the route consists more of talus and boulders the rest of the way to the summit.
From the flat, an obvious chute can be ascended (class 2-3), or you can hike left and follow easy talus-strewn ledges staying just above the base of the draw separating Dog Tooth Peak and Mitchell Peak (class 2). Either option brings you to another, larger flat at 11,080 feet.
From this upper flat, the view to the left (north) consists of steep slabs leading over to Mitchell Peak. Following along the base of these slabs will lead uphill and to the right (south), with the summit of Dog Tooth Peak now in view. Eventually easy walking turns to working straight uphill on talus and boulders. It is easier to stay left (north) to avoid some of the more difficult boulders. This keeps the hiking to class 2 talus all the way to the ridgeline of the Northwest Ridge. You should arrive on the ridge at around 12,200 feet.
Once on the ridge, a jumble of boulders is all that stands between you and the highest point. However, this jumble of boulders consists of two or three false summits and requires some route-finding. There are options, but sometimes passage is not evident without looking around blind corners to figure out the easiest path. This is not more difficult than class 3, and most of it is class 2.
In fact, it may be possible to complete this entire route without any class 3 scrambling, but what fun would that be? Both the lower slabs above the unnamed lake and the boulders near the summit provide some fun opportunities for solid scrambling in a beautiful wilderness setting.
The 10 Essentials. In snow seasons, ice axe and crampons.
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