Trip Report    

Basic Rock Climb - The Fin/West Ridge

A great adventure on a seldom climbed peak

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • The route was snow-free and not too complicated.

Start time: 7:15 a.m.

We followed the general route toward Kangaroo pass. Much of it was washed out from winter, but not complicated.  We just pushed forward, sometimes on trails, sometimes not.  Just below Kangaroo pass, there’s a small lake where we filled up since it’s the last reliable water source.

Kangaroo pass: 8:45am

We continued on the obvious trail toward Kangaroo Temple, then cut east where the trail starts ascending to the temple.  There was no snow on route, so we did our best to maintain elevation.  We were able to cross the 30 degree slabs mentioned in other reports with a little scouting by the leaders to identify some 4th class cracks and ledges, and were able to avoid losing too much elevation. Also staying high and tight against the foot of Kangaroo Temple and the Tomahawk reduced the bushwacking.  In winter the better approach according to available beta is about 400ft lower.  We reached the base of the climb at 10:30am

One trip report suggests that climbing the ridge directly keeps the first pitch at fourth class, but the most complete trip report on the Mountaineers website suggests ascending some 5th class cracks on the south before gaining the ridge halfway up the first pitch. We chose the latter approach and scrambled up to a decent ledge before roping up.  If you choose to drop gear here, you can reconnect to this spot via a climbers trail coming from the base of the scramble route.

Pitch 1: approximately 5.5.  It was dirty unclimbed rock, with large loose rocks starting about halfway up the pitch.  After some rockfall from the first party’s follower, we had belayers stand off right to avoid the fall path, and had the following teams wait until the climbers above had fully gained the ridge.  We continued this pitch onto and up the ridge as far as the rope would go, and belayed from some stout but small slung trees in a small depression on the ridge line.  Radios were fairly essential here and on the entire climb in order to coordinate the whole party through the rockfall sections, and also be able to hear belay commands.

Pitch 2:  We continued up the ridge in a mostly 4th class scramble.  While the rock quality remained suboptimal, the lower difficulty of this section and the protection of climbing on the ridge made it easier to navigate.  We belayed at a nice ledge at the toe of a fin of good rock containing a blank slab on it’s right side.

Pitch 3:  Some trip reports had warned us of pendulum potential on this slab section, but we were able to find good protection by ascending on the left side of the slab ridge, staying high off the ledges but not on the very top.  After the first few moves, this pitch quickly lays down and becomes more of a traverse.  Protecting the follower became our primary challenge here, but the climbing was easy and fun on good rock.  Two of our leaders opted to continue on the high points to the summit, and one leader traversed down a ramp to the right leading to options for a 15-ft offwidth followed by a 10-ft finger crack.  Neither option protects the follower well.  A number three or four in the top of the offwidth will help avoid pendulum on the second option.

We reached the summit around 1:15pm and enjoyed lunch and the views for about 1.5hrs before deciding to head back.

The down scramble is simple and obvious and only took about 20min.  Once off the ridge, we cut right, trying to stay high as possible for a climber's trail to the start of the climb.

Alternatively, you can drop below the ledges if you’ve climbed the ridge start or left nothing at the base.

On the return hike, much of the terrain seemed to lead us lower in elevation, but it resulted in much more bushwhacking than our significantly better approach route.  So everyone was pleased when we arrived back at the Kangaroo Temple trail, which got us to Kangaroo Pass at 5:20pm.

 Not far from the hairpin, we happened to find the little red plane crash people talk about near the creek. It’s crumpled in every imaginable way, but interestingly well preserved.

 At cars: 6:45pm

We had many questions going into this climb and very few resources available, but found it very enjoyable and reasonable for confident/competent basic students.  The 1st two pitches protected well enough.  Pitch 3 run-out is not a concern for the leader because of direction of pull, but is an important factor to consider when protecting the followers.  A single rack to 3-4 is enough, but I extended most of my pieces, so I’d suggest a few extra slings.

 The Fin turned out to be a super fun, seldom done adventure.  The students had awesome attitudes and everyone had a great time.  I would definitely suggest this for future parties to explore.