Mount Temple

Summit elevation: 11,624 feet
Distance:, 5,500 feet of climbing over 16 km.
Duration: 4 hrs 30 up, 1 hr 50 down.

I’ve wanted to climb Mount Temple for a year or more, and I spent quite a few hours staring up at it while we were in Lake Louise. The most easily visible sides of the mountain are seriously imposing, but the popular scramble route up the South East ridge isn’t actually that hard, with only a couple of mellow rock steps and some minor routefinding to deflect the hordes of would-be summiteers. Well, that and 5,500′ of elevation gain. In fact, the biggest challenge for me was finding a day when it wasn’t raining that coincided with us being in Lake Louise. When I checked the forecast on Friday afternoon, it said that Saturday was likely the best day for the next week. I packed up Friday evening and we were at the Moraine Lake parking lot by 7am on Saturday morning. I buddied-up with a couple of Italian guys who also wanted to do Temple, as well as two climbers from South Africa and Ecuador heading up the same trail to climb the Grand Sentinel, hereby getting us around the “minimum group size of 4” rule that Parks Canada have in place in many areas in Banff (to reduce the likelihood of hikers getting eaten by bears).

The first part of the ascent is an easy hike up switchbacks above Moraine Lake. As you get higher the views improve until you get to treeline and are faced with the perfect panoramic view of all ten peaks of the aptly named Valley of the Ten Peaks. It’s picture postcard stuff, and you can’t kelp but stand around snapping photos for a while. As Krista’s compact camera is bust, I decided to take my SLR with me and the views from here, coupled with the clear weather, made me glad I’d bothered to lug the extra 4 pounds.

On my last two solo scrambles, I’ve been used to going flat-out, fast as I can, up-up-and-away. Having to stay with a group who were slower than me was a bit of a change, so when we got to Sentinel Pass and parted company with the rock climbers, I was happy to step the pace up a bit and started catching up with the groups ahead of us going up Temple. Despite having a route topo, I managed to get off-route a couple of times and had to do some dodgy downclimbing over blocky rock covered with loose marbles. Not fun, but it did kinda add to the excitement. Today’s lesson: “Just cos there’s a trail, doesn’t mean it’s the right way”. Anyway, cut a long story short, I finally got on top after four and a half hours, ahead of all the other groups and hence had the summit to myself for ten minutes or so before the best of the rest caught me up. I don’t usually spend very long on top of mountains, but today the weather was so nice, the views so clear, and the other climbers so sociable I ended up sitting around shooting the shit for over 90 minutes. After sitting around for so long, I was a bit behind schedule so I hammered down the mountain as fast as I dared, getting from summit to parking lot in 1 hour 52. No wonder my knees and feet were sore when I got back to the RV.