Kangaroo Temple/Northwest Face

The route climbed by Fred and Helmy Becky during their 1942 first ascent of Kangaroo Temple. Generally considered a Grade II, 5.7+ intermediate-level rock climb. Time: 11 hours car-to-car.

getting there

Drive SR-20 (North Cascades Highway) to Washington Pass. Continue 1 mile to the hairpin turn and park in large turnout.


Start the approach by heading towards the talus slope visible from the hairpin turn parking area, staying to the right of the trees.  The trail runs directly in front of this talus slope.  Once on the trail turn towards Kangaroo Pass and follow the trail through trees, meadows, boulder fields and across small streams.  It's easy to lose the trail in the boulders but there are many cairns that mark the way.

Ascend the valley southeast.  There is a heavily used trail.  Stay to the right edge of any timber until reaching Kangaroo Pass.  From here look directly East.  Kangaroo Temple is the first prominent peak, separated from the Wallaby mass above it by a sharp notch.   There is an obvious climbers trail that fades in and out but is generally easy to follow when it's not covered with snow.  Drop about 20 ft below the pass to find the climbers trail.

Stay close (so close you can touch them) to the slabs between Kangaroo Pass and the Notch.  Soon you will reach the moderately steep, loose, dirty gully at the base of Kangaroo Temple.  About 200 feet below the notch, there is an obvious trail cutting right on a bench leading to the Northwest Face.  Followed this to the start of the first pitch.  One may need crampons in early season.

Ascent Route

The inverted "Y" described in Cascade Alpine Guide, Vol 3 (below) is quite distinct and is the key to locating the route. To start the first pitch, begin just right of the snag. Ascend left of the rock tongue, then traverse to its right to climb the 400-foot Northwest Chimney of Kangaroo Temple (intermittent cracks) which becomes better defined after the first pitch. On the second pitch, at the starting move, 5.7, look for a horn (which will be a great relief). The climb consists of six pitches. The first two have some short overhanging sections and are the hardest. Use the climbing topo in Cascade Alpine Guide, Vol 3 (below), but take the route description with a grain of salt.


Walk out to the rappel bolts overlooking the North Face.  The rappel anchor is not obvious.  Climb over/down to the top of the North Face to find three good bolts with hangers (no chains).  Three single-length rappels starting at these bolts will descend a series of ledges each with slung rappel anchors.  A double-length rappel from the summit is possible but problematic as the first ledge is blocky and loose.  It's easy for the rappel rope to get stuck and greatly increase the risk of rockfall while trying to retrieve it.  Use caution if attempting this option.


Trailhead to Climb 2-3 1,900
Climb to Summit 4 500
Summit to Trailhead 4


Standard rack, ice ax & crampons in early season.


  • Despite its popularity, the location of this climb “behind” the Washington Pass scene lends a feeling of remoteness. The scenery from Kangaroo Temple is spectacular.
  • The rock is basically sound granite, with a tendency for downsloping holds lower down. Chimney-stemming, wedging, jams and liebacks are all on the agenda with this climb along the first ascent route of the peak.
  • For an early start, consider camping the night before at the small lake just before Kangaroo Pass (can be dried up in late season).
  • Use the climbing topo on p. 325 of Cascade Alpine Guide, Vol 3 (below), but take the route description with a grain of salt.
  • Suitable Activities: Climbing
  • Climbing Category: Intermediate Alpine
  • Seasons: May, June, July, August, September, October
  • Weather: View weather forecast
  • Difficulty: Intermediate Rock Climb, Strenuous 2, Technical 4
  • Length: 6.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 2,500 ft
  • 7,572 ft
  • USGS Silver Star Mtn
  • USGS Washington Pass
  • Trails Illustrated North Cascades National Park
  • Green Trails Washington Pass No. 50
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