Trip Report    

Basic Alpine Climb - Kangaroo Temple/North Face

A very alpine experience on Kangaroo Temple!

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Very icy, with fresh snow and ice on parts of the route. Crampons and extra layers required. Definitely the full alpine experience!


We departed the hairpin turn just after 6 AM under cold, cloudy, and breezy conditions. Weather reports indicated that 2 inches of snow had fallen overnight at higher elevations, and the forecast was for below freezing temperatures when accounting for wind chill. We made sure that we had our crampons and extra layers and were on our way.

The snow became icy almost as soon as we started going uphill, necessitating that we used our crampons, ice axes, and helmets before reaching the lake. This made the approach more slow going than in late summer, but we kept an attentive, moderate pace and were at the base of the climb in 3.5 hours.

We discussed the cold and ice as the two main safety factors. We decided to start the first pitch and be willing to bail if the route was too icy. It turned out that the rock was mostly dry where it needed to be, despite icicles hanging nearby, and fresh snow covering some of our lower angle traverses. Luckily, the step across pitch was almost entirely dry; I’m not sure I’d have wanted to lead that if it was icy!

We all got to the summit without issue. The first team had already set up the rappels by the time the last time made it to the top, not feeling the need to stick around up there in sub freezing temperatures. We took a quick group photo and Krzys was off with the final rope to set up the rappels.

As often is the case with double rope rappels, we had a difficult time getting the ropes down. Swapnil and I were the last to depart the last rappel station, and tugged on the ropes with all our might. We made slow progress, but once we got one strand down far enough, I decided to rappel to the bottom of the route with one end of the semi-stuck ropes to see if changing the angle would help. It worked really well! Swapnil stayed on the top of the last rappel station to make sure it didn’t get re-stuck, and got to the bottom once we confirmed it was OK. Freeing the ropes this way also made it possible to have the team members that had been hanging out at the base for a while pull and coil the ropes, while Swapnil and I were able to change out of our harnesses and climbing shoes.

Perhaps a future Mountaineers party could go up there with some 9mm cord, cut off all of the old webbing, and make a new station with a rap ring that clears the edge of the cliff. This would make for a true sit and spin rappel, but it would almost guarantee that the rope doesn’t get stuck (at least not at the top). 

The trip down the mountain was very slippery. The ice had become slushy snow, with an icy layer underneath, resulting in several falls and self belays/arrests. We got a few good glissades in; one that went almost to the lake, and another that went beyond the lake to the point where the terrain flattened out significantly. 

We made it back to the cars at around 7 PM, making for a 13 hour day. This was a graduation climb for Eli, first multi-pitch rope leads for Swapnil and Krzys, first multi-pitch climb for Danielle, and Natalya was our veteran climber! Everyone did a fantastic job, especially given the true alpine nature of the climb!