Kangaroo Temple is an impressive battlement of solid rock towering above the south section of Kangaroo Ridge at the head of Cedar Creek. From the normal vantage point on the approach from the northwest its vertically tapered profile with sharp upper corners is in fact reminiscent of towers on some Hindu temples. Kangaroo Temple rises 300 feet above the ridge on the north and nearly 2,000 feet above the valley floors on either side. Granite slabs extend down nearly 1,000 feet from the summit. Yes, Kangaroo Temple is easy on the eyes.
The rock is granite of the Golden Horn Batholith, the stuff that makes Washington Pass a rock climbing destination. Beckey lists seven routes on all faces of the tower, two of which are relatively popular; the North and Northwest Faces. These routes provide quality rock with plenty of exposure and a relatively simple approach.
A note on the name: Kangaroo Temple was originally named “the Temple”. To prevent confusion with Temple Mountain by Leavenworth “Kangaroo” was added to the name to demark it as the temple on Kangaroo Ridge. So, no, the name is not the reference to the holy shrine of a kangaroo-worshipping cult, nor is it a place of worship for kangaroos, who would be very lost if they found themselves anywhere in the North Cascades.
Kangaroo Temple viewed from the vicinity of Kangaroo Pass
You’re in luck. The trailhead for Kangaroo Temple is at the easiest point of road to find in the National Highway System. The hardest part will be getting onto the Highway 20. Coming east from Winthrop or west from Newhalem just look for the jaw-dropping blocks of the Liberty Bell Group. When you are directly underneath them look for the hairpin turn, a huge 180 degree switchback just east of Washington Pass. There is a parking strip on the outside of the turn. Park there.
From the hairpin turn hike south into the woods and find a climbers path. This well defined path will take you to the pass between the Early Winters and Twisp drainages. It’s easy to follow except when it crosses boulder fields or slabs. There should be ample cairns to assist in these areas. Fred Spicker offers this advice on the Wallaby page:
"To find the trail from the pullout, head toward the large talus slope just south of Spire Gulch. The trail skirts the bottom of this talus – watch for cairns and follow them carefully until you reach the upper part of the basin where the trail becomes very distinct."
Once you gain the pass you’ll be rewarded with your first views of your objective. The climber’s path continues east and slightly downhill to the base of Kangaroo Temple. It should take 1.5 to 2 hours to reach this point in good conditions.
More adventurous approaches are described on the Kangaroo Ridge page.
A climber on an exposed ledge on the 3rd pitch of the North Face route.
Beckey describes seven routes on Kangaroo Temple. Here are a few:
The North Face: This is the least technical and most popular route up the rock. It's suitable for beginners but it’s probably not a great spot for your first ever multi-pitch climb due to the extreme exposure in a few spots. The route is rated 5.6 but is mostly low class 5; 3 pitches, two are short.
The Northwest Face: This is another popular route. 6 pitches each rated at 5.7 comprised of cracks and chimneys.
The Southwest Face: There are several route variations up a series of slabs, cracks, and chimneys. Anywhere from grade III to IV and 5.8 over seven pitches.
Kangaroo Temple and the approach are located in the Okanogan National Forest. There are no permits required to park at the hairpin turn or camp in the forest. Trailhead needed for longer approaches may require a NW Forest Pass for parking. South of Kangaroo Pass is also within the Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness. Kangaroo Temple itself straddles to border of the wilderness. Check with the ranger station in Winthrop if you want to camp in the wilderness area.
There seemed to be suitable camping areas just before Kangaroo Pass and at the pass itself. Camping here is discouraged due to environmental impact; use your best judgement. Considering the proximity to the highway, most people prefer to car camp at local campsites. There are plenty of those to choose from.
Cascade Alpine Guide volume 3: Rainy Pass to Fraser River
, Fred Beckey.
Some nice trip reports:
The North Face
The Northwest Face