Kangaroo Temple

July 23, 2022


Washington Pass, WA

“Kangaroo Temple” is rather a detached granite tower on the SE Ridge of “Wallaby Peak” which is also part of Kangaroo Ridge. Neither the temple nor Wallaby Peak is the tallest in this group of peaks. Kangaroo Temple is not a significant summit as it doesn’t even boast 100 m prominence, but is very popular among rock climbers. There are a few routes but the standard north face route offers an introductory multi-pitch climb (3 pitches) at low 5th class grade. The official rating of the route is 5.6 but I didn’t feel it to be that hard, albeit the exposure is very severe at places.

The forecast for the weekend was promising but I had Luna Peak planned for Monday-Wednesday and to put down close to 40 km on Monday meant I needed some resting time, but I also didn’t think I needed two full days to sit at home doing nothing. I wanted to get up a peak on Saturday with a short approach so Kangaroo Temple came across my mind. It didn’t take me long to convince Francis and Andrea to adjust their plan to join, as an intro-level rock climb was exactly what they wanted. Andrea and I had been following each other on Instagram for a while so it’d be fun to finally meat each other in person. On Friday I had just driven to Washington Pass for Hinkhouse Peak so I was not keen to drive again, so thankfully Francis offered to give me a ride. The two of them were planning to do Mt. Baker immediately after so I still had to drive down to Washington by myself. The plan was to meet up at Concrete but due to some foreseeable delays (border, traffic etc.) in the morning we didn’t meet there until 9:30 am. The forecast had downgraded to possible thunderstorms in the afternoon but at this point there’s nothing we could do other than hoping the rain would hold off until the evening. After a long drive to the pass we eventually started the approach at almost 11 am…

Kangaroo Temple via north side standard route. GPX DL

The approach to Kangaroo Pass was on a “climber’s trail” that’s decently marked by cairns but it’s far from obvious at places. Right at the beginning we got confused in the alders and the streams. With a pre-loaded GPS track I think we would end up bushwhacking most of the way up as we had to correct our bearing several times using GPS tracks. There were numerous boulder fields to cross and we had to stay 100% focused as otherwise we would lose the trail. The trail had thankfully become much more obvious after merging into a basin but parts of the trail was still covered in snow. None of us had brought boots nor crampons but the snow was soft enough to just walk in trail shoes. The snow slope didn’t last long and then there came the last bits of grunt onto Kangaroo Pass. The approach to this point had taken us about an hour, which was pretty much as expected. We then dropped down the other side and picked up the path traversing across the SE Face of Wallaby Peak towards Kangaroo Temple. This part of the trail had lots of up-and-downs and micro-terrain but was generally easy to follow. The temple looked farther than it actually was and in short time we were already grunting up the loose gully to the base of the north route.

The Early Winter Spires from the trail-head
The typical approach terrain with “Wallaby Peak” ahead
Francis and Andrea marching across a boulder field
Me at a grassy meadow area with Big Kangaroo behind
Andrea merging onto a field of slushy snow
Ascending above the tarn at the head of this valley
Starting the traverse from Kangaroo Pass
Kangaroo Temple ahead with route following left skyline
We would aim for that notch between “Little Finger” and Kangaroo Temple
Andrea slogging up the steep slope chocked with kitties litters
Andrea and the typical Washington Pass scenery

There’s one awkward step to scramble to the notch under the north route and we arrived there just when a massive group finished their climb. Sometimes an ungodly late start can also result in having the route to ourselves. This is a very popular climb and we were there on a Saturday and we weren’t sharing the route with anyone else. We briefly talked to the other team and opted to scramble halfway up the first pitch before pitching things out. Francis then led about 40 m of low 5th class to an obvious ledge and a bolted anchor. Francis then led out the second pitch traversing around a blind corner. I’ve read that some parties opted to build a gear anchor just before the corner but Francis went all the way to the other side, and eventually rope drag forced him to build a gear anchor to belay Andrea and I across.

Francis scrambling the awkward class 4 step just below the notch
We then soloed half a pitch of class 3-4 before calling to pitch things out
Francis and Andrea sorting out the frequencies of their walkie talkies
Looking at the east side of the Cascades from our belay station
Andrea following up the first pitch
Andrea coming to the two-bolt belay station
Francis leading the 2nd, the traversing pitch
Andrea having fun time belaying Francis across
Me doing rope management at the belay ledge
Andrea about to start the traversing pitch
This move was quite exposed..
Francis belaying us from a gear anchor he built
Me finishing the blind corner slab traverse
Andrea coming around the blind corner onto the slab traverse

Francis already led part of the 3rd pitch by stopping at his position so the 3rd pitch for us was rather just a 5-m step. I then easily ran up and found a pre-existing belay station to belay Francis and Andrea up. For the scramble to the summit we opted for a more challenging line than needed since the climb felt too short. The clouds were definitely building but it didn’t seem like it would rain in the next while, so we lingered a long time on the summit to soak in the experience.

Francis doing rope management at the final belay station
Me belaying Andrea up from the last pitch
From there onward was just a scramble to the summit
Summit Panorama from Kangaroo Temple. Click to view large size.
The Gardners from the summit of Kangaroo Temple
A closer look at Silver Star Mountain with some clouds building above
Goode Mountain the highest in North Cascades National Park
Early Winter Spires and Liberty Bell Mountain in the foreground
This is “Ramble Peak” which is rather just part of Gilbert Mountain
Me on the summit of Kangaroo Temple with Wallaby Peak behind

On the descent we down-climbed the north ridge to a bolted rappel station and then went down two rappels using my 60 m half rope. We could have combined some rappels using the two 60m ropes we had brought, but that also added more rope management. We then coiled the rope and just down-climbed the rest as the terrain looked no harder than 4th class. With rock shoes still on our feet this was trivial.

Andrea coming off the very tip top of the summit
Andrea descending further from the summit.
Francis on the first, steeper rappel
Andrea finishing the first rappel
Me starting the second rappel
Francis on the second rappel
Francis now down-climbing to skip more rappels
Andrea finishing the second rappel

Some parties had apparently rappelled that step underneath the col as well but again we didn’t bother. We all switched back to trail runners at the col and just down-climbed that step in the runners. We then had an uneventful descent back to Kangaroo Pass. Down into the basin we then made a spontaneous decision to swim at the lake. Francis even managed a boulder problem inside the lake bare feet. I tried but didn’t make it. After the trip we stopped in Sedro-Woolley for a grande Mexican dinner and eventually I got back to White Rock at 11 pm. The late return was tiring but this was another awesome day out there. I’ve been wanting to do Kangaroo Temple for a number of years and this trip turned out to be exactly the way I wanted in the end.

Down-scrambling from K. Temple/Little Finger notch
Kangaroo Temple behind
There were quite a few goats in the area around Kangaroo Pass
That same goat posing friendly for photos
We then aimed at this lake.
We all went in for a dip and Francis even soloed a rock pitch…
Andrea boot-skiing the snow field where I took a massive spill…
Francis now leading the trail out. It wasn’t as no-brainer as we hoped for…