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Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Wallaby Peak

A great scramble with shoulder season challenges on the ridge to the summit. With the recent snowfall this was akin to a winter scramble which involved breaking trail in snow that was not very consistent. The views however were outstanding with a mix of larches and snow and made for a great day on the mountains! Trip rating of 4 due to partially snow clad boulder fields on the approach and frequent postholing along the ridge.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • The route description indicates it takes 1 hour from the pass to the summit which I feel is overly optimistic for 1400' gain on scramble terrain so please plan accordingly.

    TH to Kangaroo Pass is pretty straight forward with very minimal trail breaking as you approach close to the pass. The climber's trail is easy to find and stick to following cairns in snow clad sections.

    Snow in patches right from the start  but more or less consistent around 5600'

    Kangaroo Pass to summit along the ridge is no longer a rock scramble - snow depth varies from couple of inches on slabs to 18" in sections. Significant trail breaking with postholing challenges.

    Summit block has some sketchy wet slabs with exposure and needs involved negotiation.

Given the recent dump of snow we were all prepared for a challenging scramble. Based on most recent beta taken from Kangaroo Pass, we decided to leave behind showshoes and crampons.

We started  hiking around 8:15  AM following the climber's trail to Kangaroo Pass. We did lose the trail for a bit after getting sucked into  'climbing up'  and had to deal with some minor bushwhacking to drop down and get back on it. The trail is  in decent shape but care must be taken along the partially snow clad boulder fields. It made for an excellent alpine approach as the rising sun was hitting the  slopes with sprinkles of snow and larches.

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 The snow became somewhat consistent from ~5600' where we found a bootpath and  had minimal trail breaking to reach the pass. We reached the pass ~10:35 AM. Took a quick sunscreen/snacks break while soaking in the views and admiring the prominent Tomb, Kangaroo Temple and The Fin on the Kangaroo ridge and NW peak of Gilbert Mountain in the background.

We left the pass around 11:00 AM for the fun part. Most of the trip reports we read advised to stay to climber's right (South) of the ridge so we tried to go around and get on the ridge. However that's unnecessary, you can get directly on the ridge which is much simpler. The  snow pack was not consistent so at times we were in knee deep snow working hard to break trail and suddenly we were postholing into void - which is not very surprising given the shoulder season and the trees on the ridge. We made very slow but steady progress along the ridge carefully avoiding punching through into void and taking turn kicking steps in deep snow. 

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 Once on the ridge above treeline we were greeted by spectacular views of Liberty Bell, Golden horn and Tower and several prominent peaks on the North

We continued on the ridge,  at times moving North where the somewhat consistent snow helped our ascent but more or less we were just following the path of least resistance along the ridge.  We were aware that at some point we need to traverse South which on a snow free ridge would lead us to a scree field and eventually to to gulley leading to the summit. We thought we found the traverse at ~7400' and started moving South when we came across a cairn just as we left the ridge asserting we were on route.
This pic taken by Rick Teudt shows our track traversing South of the ridge to the (now snow covered) scree field. This South face had wet loose snow and we did see a few rollers .
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Once in the gully, it was a matter of finding  stable gaps between slabs  underneath the loose snow and shooting towards the summit. We made it to the base of the summit block around 2:45 PM where we found ourselves trying to tackle a sketchy slab covered in snow with some exposure.

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We had  a couple of options here 
1. Explore around the summit block for a safer route
2. Call it a day and settle for the commanding views from this turn around point
Given we were well into our buffer time past turn around time we decided to go with the latter.
The descent was uneventful. Although the snow in the gully and ridge were not plunge step quality, the otherwise loose snow was good enough to hold our bootpath making the descent faster than we anticipated,
Back to the pass around 4:40 PM short break to transition from mountaineering mode to trail mode and back to cars around 6:30 PM. 

Another beautiful day in the mountains with a very competent and fun group. Everyone in the group was really engaged in terrain selection and route finding which I thought made the scramble so much more enjoyable. We had two students  and both of them did exceptionally well demonstrating ice-axe skills, walking in balance and taking turn kicking steps. IMHO this was  akin to a winter scramble that not many first year student would've been comfortable with.

We had turned around 40' shy of the summit but we all agreed on a successful trip given the beautiful views and the fun scramble opportunity we had.
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Wallaby_ridge_approach_2019_10_06.jpgAn hour and a half later we were enjoying a hearty meal at Mondos!! 

Photo Credits :  Xiulan Hu and Rick Teudt

 

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