Man Bites Dogtooth

13 Jun 1997 - by Doug Ross

You have no idea how hard it was to tear myself away from television reruns to write this story. I drove up to the Courtright reservoir with four friends last Friday June 13. Surprisingly no body mentioned the superstitious infamy of the date during the drive. It's doubly surprising when you consider that we were listening to the Art Bell show on the radio while negotiating a wet and wiggly Dinkey Creek Road in fog and rain after midnight. We backed into the first vacant site we found at the not very busy Courtright car camp.

The trailhead at the end of the road is mere yards from the campground but every mechanical advantage was welcome to this group so we acquired the distance by car in the morning. The hike to Cliff lake is a pleasant five miles with 1,000 feet gain over terrain varying from marsh to bare gravel. Towards the end it gets steeper and there are plenty of boulders of different size around to occupy the space left by absent undergrowth.

Cross-country travel is easy from the large, official campsite at the north end of Cliff lake to the pass between Dogtooth and Three Sisters. From there we chose the closer and more attractive Dogtooth over the homely Three Sisters. I didn't find out the latter was on the PCS list till much later and I was back at home wondering who chooses the peaks and what their criteria might be. Although the tallest Sister is 10,612 feet, her beloved 10,302 foot Dogtooth is much more peak-like and earns the distinction of having the USGS 15' quad named in his honour.

Going cross country and noticing but not following the ducks we arrived at 10,179'. There were many old footprints in the snow indicating that the low dome west of Dogtooth is a popular viewpoint for visitors to the Dinkey Lakes Wilderness. After a brief standing glissade and some upwards scrambling we were at the southern of two notches dividing the dogtooth into three distinct points. Staying on the west side we traversed north to the other notch which is behind some trees and provides access to the east side. We were surprised and delighted to find the cavity rich with bright white quartz chunks, comparable in quality to the finest canine ivory.

Crossing over to the east side we scaled the class 3 slabs carefully, with respect for the occasional, serious exposure. The summit reveals another cavity dividing the cuspid into two. The southern is a large dog's size higher. Possibly a Newfoundland or maybe even an Afghan. We expected such a sweet summit to hide a register or at least display a little plaque and were disappointed when our examination produced neither. At the risk of environmentalist wrath I will confess to placing a Nalgene holding a single sheet of paper and a stubby pencil. If anyone is inclined, they could add a notebook for filling. Another brief standing glissade on the way down and we were back at camp before the others were finished flossing. An enjoyable peak experience was had for a small expenditure of energy.

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