In the clouds up Mt Temple

Mount Temple is a big sucker, it stands mighty at 3544m and dominates the Lake Louise skyline. In fact it’s the 9th tallest in the Canadian Rockies, so climbing it was a very rewarding feat but certainly not without it’s challenges.

What’s bewildering and yet enticing is how the biggest mountain is actually one of the easiest to summit! It’s sheer cliffs make it look an impossible endeavor but nature worked it’s magic and hidden behind the south west ridge is a relatively easy scramble route.

So with this challenge in mind four of us set off out of Jasper for a couple of days in the hills of Lake Louise. There was Arne (Arn-ee) from Spain, Donny in his homeland Canada, Jakob (Yak-ob) from Czech Republic and Aussie me.

That afternoon before the next day’s climb we “warmed up” around the shores of Lake Louise with the 7km one way Plain of Six Glaciers hike. Thankfully by 5pm most of the 4000 visitors per day were gone.

The last kilometre to the viewpoint was wicked. Glaciers galore and within stones throw of Mt Lefroy and Mt Victoria.

Mt Lefroy
Mt Lefroy (3421m)

Some carbs before bed, alarm set to 5am and we were set to go bag a peak the next day. Or so we hoped…

Our hearts sank the next morning as we sat around in darkness looking at a sky full of grey clouds and mountains swiped from view.

The weather forecast issued last night was no joke as it tends to be in the mountains…showers.

Donny and I just about called Temple out of the equation to Arne’s extreme dismay but after a pancake breakie and news of a better forecast we agreed to do the hike to Sentinel Pass anyway and see what’s up from there.

8:45am we hit the trailhead at a beautiful cloud covered Moraine Lake. The hike to Sentinel Pass through Larch Valley is premier but it also surprised me how short it was, around 6km and 700m vertical.

There was debate over which one was Temple, until it came into full view and all doubt was dashed.

First views
That giant monolith on the right with a sprinkling of snow is Temple. Sentinel pass is the low point to the left.

The word from Banff National Park was there were five grizzly bears in the area, which is the reason they had a minimum group size of four law in place. We didn’t see any of them unfortunately.

Upon reaching Sentinel Pass we had sun and blue skies! It felt amazing and we decided to push on and be willing to turn back at any time if things changed. From here it’s still 2.5km and 900m vertical to the top.

Sun at Sentinel pass. Looking over the pass towards Paradise Valley.
Sun at Sentinel pass. Looking over the pass towards Paradise Valley.

The next incline was straightforward. Follow the trail, stay close, and don’t kick rocks down the mountain. Thanks to Arne we had the route description in hand, and that proved really handy – even if Arne’s rock kicking prowess wasn’t so helpful.

Lets go!
Lets go!

The biggest danger on this mountain is rockfall and yet even knowing that I was surprised at just how loose the ground is. You need to be extra careful and you’d be crazy not to wear a helmet.

The crux of the mountain (hardest part) is really not too bad at all. If your good on your feet and can scramble up rocks you’ll be fine. We took a harder way up by mistake and Arne got stuck there for a bit, but with some help we got him moving again. Not before I kicked a rock down onto his helmet though – whoops.

The crux
The crux

From here the summit ridge is really close and upon reaching it the views were incredible back down over Paradise and Larch Valleys.

Donny and I
Donny and I
Arne and Jakob enjoying a seat and snacks with a view.
Arne and Jakob enjoying a seat and snacks with a view.

Standing here looking upwards it literally looked like a trail into the sky – where upon reaching the end you’d be given a set of wings to glide off the mountain ever so gracefully.

The only way is up
The mountain eerily disappeared ahead under a blanket of clouds

But no it was just hard heart pounding work up the steepest continuous grade of the whole route. I lost track of time but I think it took about an hour along the summit ridge.

At 3350m – ish we were engulfed in clouds and cold. Progress vertically slowed and I definitely noticed the lack of oxygen in the air, although not nearly to the extent as on Mt Blanc which spirals up to a dizzying 4810m!

Jakob ahead. We made sure to stay in sight of each other.
Jakob ahead. We made sure to stay in sight of each other from here on.

Never knowing where the summit was it jumped upon us all of a sudden. We did it!

The summit flag was a welcome landmark. Even if we could only see 20m ahead and had no view we had done it. It was a new experience being engulfed by clouds. We hung around at the top for about 20 minutes before another couple joined us and by then we were feeling the chill and ready to head down.

I love this photo, it shows just how happy we all were to be here.
I love this photo, it shows just how happy everyone was to make it. From left, Donny, Arne, Jakob and I.
There was a book to sign for making the summit. Credit to Arne for the nicknames.
There was a book to sign for making the summit. Credit to Arne for the nicknames.

Descending was really fast and fun sliding through the scree. My hiking pole was invaluable in helping keep balance and take some weight off the legs.

We returned back to Lake Moraine in good time at 4:30pm (total time of 7:45) where I jumped in the lake to complete my brother’s challenge set back in November.

Wooo! Chilly, refreshing and yet so satisfying. I’m sure I surprised a good amount of tourists ha.

This day presented many challenges of leadership, teamwork, and collaboration – and even despite missing out on unbelievable sunny views and the leg work involved to reach the top was not that physically demanding, Temple is one of the most rewarding mountains I’ve ever climbed.

Thanks to Arne, Donny and Jakob for making this day a day to remember.

4 thoughts on “In the clouds up Mt Temple”

  1. Wow. You were in the clouds. That would have been weird and cool. Didn’t you say that you would not go any higher if weather got worse? Then you just walk to the summit through the thick of it. Maybe a bit stupid there but I would have probably done the same thing. -Matt-

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