Sawtooth Ridge Traverse Blacksmith Peak to Matterhorn Peak

Bridgeport, California

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Peter Croft once said that the main attraction of the Sierra was the opportunity for long, technical ridge traverses, and this is one of the best. Most of the peaks of the jagged Sawtooth Ridge were climbed and named by Sierra Club climbers in the early 1930s. In 1931, Jules Eichorn, Glen Dawson, and Walter Brem traversed from the Dragtooth to Matterhorn Peak. Henry Beers, Bestor Robinson, and Richard Leonard made the first traverse of the Three Teeth from the northwest to southeast (III 5.5, with rappels) in 1933. Robinson and Leonard also climbed Blacksmith Peak on this trip, while Oliver Kehrlein and Henry Beers climbed Cleaver Peak from Glacier Col. The following year, the Sierra Club climbers returned to the area with renewed enthusiasm. The Doodad was climbed by Howard Twining and Kenneth May on July 7, then on July 25, Glen Dawson and Jack Riegelhuth traversed the Three Teeth from the southeast to the northwest (III 5.6, with rappels). That same day, Dave Brower and Hervey Voge made the first traverse of the Sawblade (Class 5). Two days later, Glen Dawson and Jack Riegelhuth climbed the northeast face of Cleaver Peak. In 1936, Robinson and Carl Jensen climbed the northeast trough on Blacksmith Peak (II 5.6). Brower, with Art Argiewicz and Bruce Meyer, returned to climb the southwest face of the Northwest Tooth (II 5.6) in 1941. The traverse of the crest has been repeated a few times over the years, including an effort by Ben Craft and Craig Clarence in the summer of 1999. Craft described their adventure. “I loved the whole thing except the gullies and raps. It seemed like in every gully on the Sawblade to the Three Teeth there was some dirty, frozen ‘kitty litter’ chimney or crack that wasn’t any fun. There were a few spots that you had to be real careful with teetering blocks. My favorite part about the route was being on the ridge the whole time—it felt like you never left a summit. Summiting the Doodad and traversing the Dragtooth was an excellent finale to the ridge.”

Sawtooth Ridge Traverse: Blacksmith Peak to Matterhorn Peak Professional Review and Guide

"Peter Croft once said that the main attraction of the Sierra was the opportunity for long, technical ridge traverses, and this is one of the best. Most of the peaks of the jagged Sawtooth Ridge were climbed and named by Sierra Club climbers in the early 1930s. In 1931, Jules Eichorn, Glen Dawson, and Walter Brem traversed from the Dragtooth to Matterhorn Peak. Henry Beers, Bestor Robinson, and Richard Leonard made the first traverse of the Three Teeth from the northwest to southeast (III 5.5, with rappels) in 1933. Robinson and Leonard also climbed Blacksmith Peak on this trip, while Oliver Kehrlein and Henry Beers climbed Cleaver Peak from Glacier Col. The following year, the Sierra Club climbers returned to the area with renewed enthusiasm. The Doodad was climbed by Howard Twining and Kenneth May on July 7, then on July 25, Glen Dawson and Jack Riegelhuth traversed the Three Teeth from the southeast to the northwest (III 5.6, with rappels). That same day, Dave Brower and Hervey Voge made the first traverse of the Sawblade (Class 5). Two days later, Glen Dawson and Jack Riegelhuth climbed the northeast face of Cleaver Peak. In 1936, Robinson and Carl Jensen climbed the northeast trough on Blacksmith Peak (II 5.6). Brower, with Art Argiewicz and Bruce Meyer, returned to climb the southwest face of the Northwest Tooth (II 5.6) in 1941. The traverse of the crest has been repeated a few times over the years, including an effort by Ben Craft and Craig Clarence in the summer of 1999. Craft described their adventure. “I loved the whole thing except the gullies and raps. It seemed like in every gully on the Sawblade to the Three Teeth there was some dirty, frozen ‘kitty litter’ chimney or crack that wasn’t any fun. There were a few spots that you had to be real careful with teetering blocks. My favorite part about the route was being on the ridge the whole time—it felt like you never left a summit. Summiting the Doodad and traversing the Dragtooth was an excellent finale to the ridge.”"

Activity Type: Climbing
Nearby City: Bridgeport
Class: Class 5.9 and above
Local Contacts: Yosemite National Park; Inyo National Forest, John Muir Wilderness
Local Maps: USGS Matterhorn Peak, Buckeye Ridge
Grade: Grade VI
Driving Directions: Directions to Sawtooth Ridge Traverse: Blacksmith Peak to Matterhorn Peak

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May 2018