Kathy's Trip Report
June 14-15, 2008 - Big Kangaroo - 8280 ft - West Route
Climbers: Don Duncan, Jerry Baillie and Kathy Baillie with Kathy as scribe.
Looking for a good weather peak to climb, Big Kangaroo fit the bill. Furthermore it meets the 400 feet of prominence rule (addendum to the Bulger 100 highest list). This list is my way of getting Jerry in shape.
We left at 6am on Saturday and reached the hairpin below Liberty Bell on Hwy 20 about 10am. Jerry convinced Don to leave his picket, which as it turned would have been useful. Step kicking and post holing commenced immediately. Oh the joy of "mystery steps".
Approximately 3 hrs later we arrived at a great spot for spending a leisurely afternoon (approx 6400 ft). Shade from the scorching sun was available so naps, "name that peak," friendly political discussions and watching skiers across the valley ensued. As the group was shy one pair of crampons, I chose to pre-kick 1000 feet of steps as an after dinner activity.
The steps were a significant help Sunday morning when we awoke to very firm snow.
Hoping for the sun to hit the key gully before we got there we left camp at 8am. However, the 45-degree gully necessary to obtain the ridge crest was frozen solid. At a rest break about 200 feet below our gully, Jerry very cheerfully said, "Kathy, since you're in front you might as well carry the rope. Oh, and the rack will help you as well". When his logic was questioned with "I normally don't choose to rope up alone". He countered with "of course you've never found yourself treed like a cat have you?" Consequentially, off I went with the rope and rack. At the base of the gully Jerry gave me a belay. Fortunately, I could place rock pro on the left side of the gully. This got me to a second belay spot, which had an old rusty piton. Don came up next and worked very hard making very good steps for Jerry to follow.
Jerry decided to finish leading up to the ridge. The dilemma - would it be better on snow or rock? Since he didn't have crampons, he chose rock. However, this quickly became very difficult and I lowered him back down. At this point I decided to try the snow and squeezed under a huge chock stone in a small chimney and was able to gain the ridge crest. Verglas in the chimney provided some additional excitement, but hey the worst that would happen if you fell was getting wedged. Don & Jerry are both twice my size, so I rather enjoyed seeing them squirming through the chimney.
I declined Jerry's offer "gee you could wrap those crampons in my pile jacket to protect the pack" (e.g. carry my pile jacket for me). Next, we dropped packs and I led across a short exposed ledge and around a corner that led to a larger 3 ft. ledge where a 5.5 friction slab at the base of the final pitch. Nothing like climbing boots for vertical friction moves. Jerry put me on belay and I attempted the face in my boots, but chose to come back down. Jerry was next and was able to reach a small hold on the 30 ft slab as Don belayed. You know you're in good company when someone offers his body as a counter balance to Jerry. There may have been one other hold on that slab, but it was pretty blank. Don and I were quite impressed with Jerry's lead and the rusty 1/4" & inch bolt and hanger on the summit. The summit is a knife-edge one must straddle and there are no other anchor options. Don lowered Jerry back to the ledge. Don & I quickly followed the pitch to the summit. We then belayed each other back around the corner to our packs. Don cleaned up and reset a nice rappel to get us back to our lovely gully, which Jerry realized was his attempted climbing route - usually not a good idea. However, we were able to retrieve the SLCD that he had left earlier. Don then set the next rappel off an old piton that he discovered at our earlier belay spot.Getting back to camp was uneventful. After packing up we headed home trying to avoid as much post holing as possible. Dinner was micro-waved burritos at a lovely gas station in Marblemount. Overall, this was a great trip, with great company and more challenging than anticipated.