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Kangaroo Temple (7572')

North Face (5.4)

July 14, 2008


Last summer my friend Dan and I (and Phred) did some climbing at Washington Pass. Much fun was had so we decided to try it again. This time Dan's friend, Mike, and my friends Andrew and David joined us.

Dan, Mike and I met Andrew and David at Lone Fir campground then drove back up to the hairpin pulloff below Washington Pass and started hiking up the valley towards Kangaroo Pass. We found and lost the trail many times as we alternated between forest and scree field.

It was really warm as we made our way up to Kangaroo Pass. There were a few patches of snow on the trail, but nothing that required ice axes or crampons. At the pass we were finally treated with a view of our objective, Kangaroo Temple. Mike wasn't planning on climbing so he decided to hangout at the pass for a while then hike back down to the car. We planned to have him meet us around 9:30pm to pick us up.

Dan, Andrew, David, and I followed the climbers trail down the other side of Kangaroo Pass, contouring along the mountain and staying below the slabs.

It had been seven years since I last climbed this peak and my memories were more of the beautiful climbing and views and less of the steep, loose, and dusty trail up to the base of the climb. I guess I failed to mention this part of the trip when I suggested the climb. Sorry fellas!

We all made it up to the notch at the beginning of the climb, but Dan's leg was giving him some grief from all the hiking and heat so he decided to hang out while Andrew, David and I climbed. It was a beautiful day with a breeze to keep it cool. We left Dan with extra clothes to keep warm while we made the four pitch climb.

While we roped up, I explained the particulars of climbing as a three party team. It wasn't until after 4pm that I started to lead up the first pitch. We would need to make good time on the climb to be back out to meet Mike.

I was able to follow the arete to a small ledge with a fixed pin where I built an anchor and brought Andrew and David up. At the base of the climb I had explained how rope management was important and to demonstrate this I proceeded to create a rat's nest of the ropes when I handed the loops over to Andrew. This provided a great segue into "teamwork" which I also described earlier, providing the opportunity for the three of us to "work as a team" to untangle the mess.

Twenty minutes later, we had the ropes flaked into nice, clean, separate, coils and Andrew and David had a great lesson in what not to do. You're welcome, guys! ;)

The second pitch went up and right to a large detached slab which I distinctly remembered from my earlier climb. This was a much shorter pitch, but ended on a large ledge on the right side of the north face. This time when I belayed David and Andrew up, I flaked the ropes into two separate piles. Nice!

The third pitch of the climb involves climbing out right from the belay ledge and around a corner to an exposed catwalk to traverse for twenty feet or so. This is a short pitch also, so I sewed up the traverse with about four or five cams. The views were spectacular as I climbed across, trying to focus more on my footwork than the void below me.

I climbed up to some trees and slung a large boulder from which I belayed. It was a perfect perch from which I could snap some fun pictures of the guys climbing across the catwalk.

Once Andrew and David were across, the climbing was much easier so we just scrambled up the sandy benches to the summit. We took a few pitcures, then followed the ridge back towards the north face to where three equalized slings from bolts awaited us to take us back down to the notch and Dan. I had my 60m, 8mm haul line in my pack, and Andrew had his skinny 60m glacier rope in his pack which we paired with the two 60m climbing ropes for our double rope rappels. On the rappel I found a small tree with an old blue sling wrapped around it that was used by some unfortunate souls who evidently only had one rope.

The double 60m ropes were more than enough to get us to the second set of rappel anchors, where Andrew and I set up our next double length rappel. This next rappel was much longer but again, with our 60m ropes we had plenty of rope to reach the notch where Dan was reclining on the rocks in the sun, relaxing.

The hike down was a long, dry piece of work, but Dan lead the whole way down to the pass outpacing us all. Once back at Kangaroo Pass, we thought our troubles were over, but the mosquitos were waiting for us. I tried to be optimistic by stating that it would soon be dark and the mosquitos would have a more difficult time finding us. It didn't have the uplifting effect I had expected, receiving more comments along the lines of "heinous approach" and "7 hours hiking for a three hour climb". But deep down, I knew the fellas were having a good time, so I reminded them of the Friedrich Nietzche quote, "That which does not kill us...."

Even with four people and three headlamps, we lost the trail many times as we tried to retrace our steps back down the valley, but we finally stumbled out of the last stand of trees, crossed the last boulder field to the hairpin where Mike was waiting for us with cold beers.

Once back at camp, everyone rallied up some energy to get our tents pitched, start the campfire, and cook dinner. We started off with Andrew and David's caprese appetizers, then feasted on Dan's microbrews and Hebrew National hot dogs. After a long day, eating good food in the mountains, under the stars, I offered one more saying which was finally received well: Guys, it just doesn't get any better than this!

Mazama sportclimbing

The next day we decided to take it easy. So after nice breakfast of coffee, bacon, maple sausage, scrambled eggs and pancakes with maple syrup, we found our strength again and pile into Mike's Honda Pilot and drove down the road to Mazama. When we arrived I was amazed that it was as small as it was. "The dot on the map should be alot smaller." But the general store was hopping and while we unable to procure a guide book (Come on, Bryan, get it done!) we were able to head up the road and find some well marked signs directing us to the rock climbing parking where we met a nice woman who told us of some fun climbs on Fun Rock and Sunshine slab(?).