Elevation Gain: 754m
Total Time: 6 hours 55 minutes
Date: July 23rd, 2022
Andrea and I had set aside a weekend to send Mount Baker, with the original plan to go Saturday. However, a few days before Steven reached out about doing a technical summit called Kangaroo Temple. It would would involve a light weight day of hiking and climbing with 3 pitches up to 5.6 to gain the summit. It’s a popular entry level alpine climb in the Washington Pass area and seemed right up our alley as an objective. I had been super keen to start getting into more technical alpine routes throughout the year, so I asked Andrea if she’d be okay with adding this on as an additional adventure and pushing Baker out to Sunday. She kindly agreed and a new plan was formed.
We now decided on staying the whole weekend in Washington where we’d push to do Kangaroo Temple on Saturday, crash near the Mount Baker trail head Sunday and then send it in a single day before driving home. Steven was hoping to catch a ride, so we arranged to meet in Concrete, Washington where I’d drive us the rest of the way and then we could part ways for our separate destinations.
Saturday morning, Andrea and I got going around 6am and by the time we reached the border there was a massive line up to cross. I don’t normally cross the borders during these times, so it was a bit unexpected, but this is apparently the norm on weekends. Eventually we made it through and headed towards Concrete to meet up with Steven. By 11am we were finally pulled up to the parking spot at the hairpin and geared up to go. Steven lead us through a bit of a confusing start to the trail, but after crossing a small creek area we found a well marked foot path and followed that the rest of the way. The ascent up to Kangaroo Pass was straight forward with amazing views looking towards Silver Star and Early Winter Spires as well as inviting tarn near the top of the ridge.
Once on the ridge at around 2030m we started traversing across the southern side of Wallabee Mountain to reach the Kangaroo Temple summit tower. There was a bit of scrambling involved over some loose scree covered slabs, but for the most part it’s an easy trail without too much unnecessary elevation gain or lost. After about a kilometer of traversing we started ascending straight up loose slopes and some 3rd class steps to reach the col between Kangaroo Temple and another smaller tower just west.
At the col we came across a group of climbers who had just fished their descent and that mean we’d have the whole climb to ourselves. Based on the photos and the topo, we opted to scramble up a bit further around to the north west side before finding a good place to set up a belay station and transition to climbing gear. Steven and Andrea would take a backpack on second/third while I would lead and Andrea would third the route. To do this we ran a twin rope setup with Steven’s 7.5mm rope and my 9.8mm rope, running the skinnier rope as a tagline until I would have everyone on belay.
I started up the route expecting some 5.6 difficulty but instead found mostly low 5th scrambling terrain. Nonetheless, I placed some pro as I went and managed to keep the rope drag to a minimum. When I reached a bolted rappel station, I made the call to setup the first anchor here. I wasn’t expecting bolted anchors, so had to assemble a quad from my cord and then got everyone on belay. There was a bit of confusion initially, as I was expecting the second and third to come up one at a time, but to speed things up they started climbing at the same time. Managing two climbers simultaneously proved a bit challenging, but it was good practice. I ended up making a mess of the twin rope setup, but I suppose that’s the perk of having a 3rd person who can help manage while I lead and the other person belays.
Andrea and Steven made quick work of the first pitch and then I was on to lead the second pitch. The first move was a bit awkward with a committing layback up a step and I fiddled for a while trying to find a good placement. Once satisfied, I hauled myself up and around the corner. I placed one more piece before the beginning of the exposed traverse. From the photos I was anticipating a fun balance-y sequence across an airy slab, but instead it proved to be just an easy walk across in climbing shoes. The crux of this pitch was actually the rope drag. In hindsight I should have climbed a bit higher on P1 as I was now having to reverse course to remove gear/rope drag in order to more easily continue the traverse. Once across the slab section, I setup a gear anchor with 3 cams and started the belay for Andrea and Steven.
Again they had no issues with P2 and we all had a similar sentiment that the 5.6 rating is very overstated. From the anchor, Steven decided to speed things up and just soloed the mostly scramble route of P3 and setup an anchor on a tree not far above. Then I seconded while Andrea cleaned the anchor and followed up. From P3 it’s just a short walk to the summit. Despite the soft grade, I was still stoked to knock off 3 pitches on lead and it totally met my goals for the day. Now content, we chilled on the summit for awhile, enjoying the dramatic looking peaks of Silver Star, Liberty Bell et al.
Eventually, we decided it’s time to get going as Andrea and I still needed to stage ourselves for Mount Baker the following morning. The rappel route was located on the western side of the summit, so we had to scramble across one narrow tricky section before reaching the first bolted anchors. The anchor was a bit questionable with one leg of the cord running directly through the hanger, but on inspection it was still holding up. Steven rappelled first and confirmed the 60m rope was sufficient length. I went down next and Andrea followed after. We did one more rappel down to the mid point of P1 and then I down climbed to our gear stash while Andrea and Steven finished cleaning up the rappel gear. Everyone rejoined at the col and we skipped the two rappels that other parties seem to have done. The terrain was not terribly difficult to descend so I’m not sure it’s worth the extra effort and time for the last two rappels.
We hiked down out of the col and back onto that traversing trail. Then it’s an easy hike back to Kangaroo Pass. At this point, we decided on a quick swim in that tarn 100m below and that nicely capped off the day. After our swim we retraced our steps back to the car, getting lost once or twice, but otherwise an uneventful return. Andrea and I dropped Steven off in Concrete and then we convoyed together to a nice Mexican restaurant nearby, before parting ways. Our day ended up finishing a bit later than expected, but it was the perfect outing and neither Andrea nor I were feeling too tired for the next big mission the following morning.
- 60m x 7.5mm twin rope
- 60m x 9.8mm single rope
- BD #0.3 to #3 with doubles of #0.5 to #2 however a single rack would probably have been sufficient if you’re comfortable on low 5th class terrain
- Alpine draws (didn’t really need more than 4 at a time)