Table Tooth, Arizona, December 2018

On Monday, December 17, I joined the Southern Arizona Hiking Club for a climb of Table Tooth, a spire immediately east of Table Mountain in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness of the Santa Catalina Mountains. Table Tooth has only 320 feet of topographic prominence, but the “hike” proved to be challenging and it felt like a real mountaineering experience to me.

We climb towards Table Tooth and its east notch above left.
We climb towards Table Tooth and its east notch above left.

We left the Pima Canyon Trailhead before dawn with headlamps. Soon the early morning light allowed us to remove the headlamps and we entered Pima Canyon. This was my first excursion into Pima Canyon. The steep slopes above and in front of us lured my attention, but I had to pay attention to the rocky trail so as not to fall onto my face.

Looking up the Table Tooth spire as we ascend above the notch.
Looking up the Table Tooth spire as we ascend above the notch.

After about four miles we left the rocky trail and began bushwacking up a brushy drainage. Higher we followed more open country up steep ridges towards our destination. We eventually reached a notch on the ridge immediately east of the Table Tooth summit spire.

I follow the rest of the team as they climb towards the summit of Table Tooth.
I follow the rest of the team as they climb towards the summit of Table Tooth.

We dropped our packs and took a break, then continued up a brushy, narrow gully to reach the upper rocks. Our first candidate route was clearly too difficult and dangerous for what we were prepared for. We selected an alternative route which though easier was going to be a difficult and exposed way to descend. As the others continued higher on easier rock I checked for and found a safer route for us to descend later.

Table Mountain rises above us on the left and Oro Valley lies below.
Table Mountain rises above us on the left and Oro Valley lies below.

I caught up with the others on the summit. Table Tooth’s 320 feet of prominence is due to it having a narrow saddle between it and Table Mountain rising immediately above it to the west. To the north and south the Table Tooth summit is quite airy.

Cathedral Rock and Mount Kimball to the east. We climbed from the notch in the foreground.
Cathedral Rock and Mount Kimball to the east. We climbed from the notch in the foreground.
Mount Lemmon and Cathedral Rock from the summit of Table Tooth.
Mount Lemmon and Cathedral Rock from the summit of Table Tooth.

The rock was excellent and with my reassurance of an easier descent we all seemed to enjoy spending a little time on the summit checking the register for past SAHC climbs and taking photographs of the impressive views around us.

Looking down Pima Canyon towards Tucson from the summit of Table Tooth.
Looking down Pima Canyon towards Tucson from the summit of Table Tooth.

We safely descended off the summit, returned to our packs at the notch, and enjoyed lunch. From there we carefully descended back to the trail and reached the trailhead by mid afternoon. It was a strenuous and scenic day and I enjoyed climbing with a fun and experienced team of Arizona Peakbaggers.

Paul McClellan

About Paul McClellan

I had the good fortune to have spent most of my life in the Pacific Northwest, where I discovered the joys and addiction of hiking and climbing in the Cascades Range and other ranges in the Western United States.
This entry was posted in Climbing, Hiking and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *