December 24, 2021


Needles, CA

Snaggletooth is a road-side rock spire along the highway between Needles and Vidal Junction in SE California desert. The approach is next to nothing and the climb has an exciting technical finish. There are two reported routes on the summit block. I did not do any research so ended up climbing the harder, class 4/5 South Arete. A class 3/4 line exists on the NW side of the summit block, but I did not discover.

An ascent of Snaggletooth was not on the agenda when Adam and I headed south from Las Vegas for about 12 days simply because Adam had already climbed it years ago. But when we drove by the area Adam kindly mentioned that I should consider solo it as it’s extremely short. After getting some verbal beta I made the decision to solo it, but I would carry rock shoes and a 30 m rope for the summit block.

As you can see, Snaggletooth is very much right next to the highway

The approach was very short and straightforward as I just ascended to the col between the main summit and the lower “NW Tooth”, and from there I scrambled south and corkscrewed around the summit block to the south side. The first line I thought that looked feasible turned out to be the harder S. Arete. I thought I was already at the easiest line here, so didn’t bother to keep looking around. I spent a few minutes donning hardess and rock shoes and just climbed it. The first couple moves off the ground felt the most technical, but the upper moves were very exposed.

A view towards the main tooth from the approach
Partway up the approach, looking back down onto the desert floor
Cresting the ridge now, looking into the other side
The summit block of Snaggletooth with the S. Arete facing me
Looking down to the highway from the summit
The vast Mojave Deserts
The lower NW Tooth from the main summit
Chemehuevi Peak to the south
My selfie shot on the summit of Snaggletooth
Adam’s photo of me standing on the summit of Snaggletooth

I did not find a rappel station on the summit. I could have easily built one but that would require leaving slings behind, so I just down-climbed the pitch. A few moves were very airy and awkward but I did manage to make it work. I did not bother to climb that lower NW tooth and instead, rushed back to the car so that we could drive south to get our next objective done before dark.

A review shot of the south arete that I climbed
This is a photo of the NW side where the easier route was. I did not invest