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East face of the Mouses Tooth

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

For the second time this summer Nick and I cruised slowly up the North Joffre Creek FSR in his small low clearance electric car. The plan for the day was to try and climb the East Face of the Mouses Tooth then scramble to it's humble summit. To clarify things here is a little bit of North Joffre Creek climbing history. In March of 2008 coastal alpine legend Bruce Kay and local photographer/athlete Chris Christie climbed an imposing nine pitch winter alpine route called Rhapsody in Floyd Wi 4+ ( Rhapsody in Floyd ascends a deep cleft between two huge granite walls. Bruce named the face the Mouses Tooth due to it's resemblance of the more famous Mooses Tooth in Alaska. Bruce later returned to climb Free Tibet, a harder variation of Rhapsody in Floyd that follows ice filled crack systems on the right hand side of the cleft. Both routes have not been repeated to the best of my knowledge. Bruce came back again in 2011 and established Mighty Mouse 5.11a, on the beautiful wall to the left of Rhapsody in Floyd. Mighty mouse follows the unmistakable crack line up the centre of the face. Bruce ascended to the summit of the Mouses Tooth on the first ascent in a total of 11 pitches. Most people now rappel from the top of pitch 8 (FA Pitch 6). Bruce Kay and Damian Kelly established another route on the left side of the wall. Spaceman Spliff, 5.11d follows an outrageous vertical dihedral with a laser cut crack at its rear. Spaceman Spliff joins back onto Mighty Mouse on pitch 8. There is a two pitch varation called Spliff Avoider 5.10a which evades the 5.11d pitch. In the newest edition of Alpine Select calls Spliff Avoider "Of Mice and Men". Another noteable mention is the 5.11+ variation to pitch 4, A Little Ugly on the Side. Bruce Kay's Topo of the lower half of the face helps explain all of the variations. Steph Abegg's Topo is what most folks climb and consider Mighty Mouse 5.11a.

It took Nick and I a little over an hour to complete the approach and slog up the steep talus slope to the base of the vast face. Since Nick had already climbed Mighty Mouse via the 5.10d Start we chose to ascend further right where Bruce climbed during during the FA. Nick sorted the Rack and started up a splitter albiet mossy corner crack. The moss quickly dissapeard and gave way to a nice 60 meter pitch of face climbing and bolted laybacking up to 5.10a. I lead the next 5.10a face pitch and rambled up to a belay on the large ledge below the beautiful headwall.

At this point Nick and I planned to climb Spliff Avoider 5.10a (Of Mice and Men) and continue to the summit of the mouses tooth. Nick started up the first pitch. Splitter crack and corner systems lead way to a ledge at the base of Spaceman Spliff. From this point Spliff Avoider cut's left across a 5.10 slab to the next belay. I watched as Nick investigated the route. Nick inched his way out on the slightly crumbly slab and clipped a marginal pin from the FA. Completing this pitch would involve some insecure, lichen coated slab moves while runout above an uninspiring pin. Falling and ripping the pin would mean a long fall into a jagged corner system. Serious injury would be a probable outcome.. After some contemplation Nick downclimbed to the ledge and belayed me up. In the image below you can spot the pin before the section of runout slab climbing.

We discussed our options and settled on bumping the belay over to the right and continuing up Mighty Mouse. I'll admit that I did not mind. I had not climbed Mighty Mouse and had heard rave reviews about the route. Thanks Nick for being accomadating!

The following pitches were of superb quality. I lead a short pitch of 5.10d changing cracks to a small ledge (pitch 4). From here Nick lead another beautiful pitch of 5.10d fingers to wide hands on perfect stone. This pitch ended by traversing out under a roof on unique chicked head features (pitch5). Pitch 6 was among the best pitches I have had the pleasure of climbing anywhere. 40 meters of perfectly splitter wide hands. Seriously, if this pitch was in the Squamish it would have a line up all summer long! I was glad to have doubles from BD #1 - #3.

Nick enjoying endless splitter hands on pitch 6, 5.10-. Amazing!

Nick efficiently climbed pitch 7, 5.10+. This pitch involved more high quality finger jamming to a short burly crux. I took the lead on pitch 8, 5.11a. This pitch was quite thin and technical but still excellent nonethless. I placed 4 RP's and was happy to have them. Without micro cams, RP's, or stoppers this pitch would be fairly runout above marginal gear. Halfway up the technichal difficulties ease, then enjoyable face climbing brings you to the anchor.

The top of Pitch 8 is where the majority of parties rappel the route. This is the end of the 'good' climbing. With plenty of daylight left Nick and I decided that we should stick to our original plan of climbing to the summit. Nick set off on the next pitch (5.9). A excellent hand crack in a watergroove followed by a short section of simul-climbing brought us to a treed ledge. Here we saw some old rappel cord around a tree. I lead another moderate pitch (5.8) along a licheness corner to a slab. I located a decent belay on the slab in a thin corner crack. I gazed across the valley appreciating the stunning lighting while Nick started up the next pitch. A section of runout slab lead to a crack and eventually some minor thrashing through a patch of shrubs (5.8). Another little bit of simul climbing brought us to a beautiful belay next to to the Rhapsody in Floyd gulley. The final pitch of technical climbing started with a short but burly 5.10 crack. I proceeded to weave around on ledges before finishing the pitch with a short wide crack (5.6). Nick and I climbed a total of 5 pitches after pitch 8 of Mighty Mouse. It is true that the climbing is not nearly as good as the headwall but by alpine standards I would still consider it worthwhile. Besides, topping out the wall is more interesting than stopping partway in my opinion.

Nick on the final wide crack. Note: Shadows of Hunters Spire and Mouses Tooth far below.

We packed up all the climbing gear and started scrambling up the 3rd class ridge that brings you to the summit of th Mouses Tooth. After ten or so minutes we came across the top of the Rhapsody In Floyd gulley. We quickly realized that a rappel would be neccessary. Don't be like us and put away all of your gear! We slung a large boulder and made a 15 meter rappel into the chossy gulley and scrambled up the other side. Another couple hundered meters of pleasant 3rd and 4th class scrambling brought us to the summit of the Mouses tooth. We took a moment to appreciate the late afternoon sun over the Coast Mountains. A welcomed sight after a long climb.

Our descent followed the North Rib of the Mouses Tooth back down to the basin below Cayoosh Dome. The ridge involed some sections of 4th class scrambling with a brief section of tricky route finding right at the toe. That said this was an efficient and enjoyable way to descend. The North Rib would also make for a nice scramble on it's own. Solid rock with nice views.

Nick Navigating the final 4th class steps of theNorthRib.

We spent the next hour hiking down from the alpine meadows back to the car. The rush of the creek and the evening light illuminating the valley walls made for a tranquil scene. I stopped and doused my face with cold glacier water just before the back to the car. Nick and I were 10 hours round trip which felt like a reasonably efficicient day of covering technical ground in the mountains. The alluring alpine environment and wilderness of North Joffre Creek will keep me coming back for more.

A special Place. Cayoosh Dome pictured in the background.

For those interested here is Nick Elson's Pitch breakdown after pitch 8 of Mighty Mouse (copy pasted from Mountain Project).

  • Pitch 9: Move the belay left and climb a handcrack in a left-facing flake corner just right of the more prominent corner. Actually quite a good pitch (5.9).

  • Pitch 10: Climb up and right eventually gaining a ramp that leads way right to a ledge with a clump of trees (mid-5th).

  • Pitch 11: Climb slabs to the obvious left-facing corner. A bit scruffy with some loose blocks (5.8).

  • Pitch 12: Slabby traverse right to a couple scruffy moves that gain another ledge with trees. Continue up the ramp on the right to the arete and up to a big ledge with boulders (5.8).

  • Pitch 13: Steep boulder problem above the ledge (might be possible to go around on the left?) and then easier climbing a short wide crack and a big ledge (5.10 boulder, then mid-5th).

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1 Comment

Dec 18, 2023

Looks like an amazing adventure with not a soul in sight!

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