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A Summer Stroll Up Mount Temple

Moderate Scramble
Elevation [m]: 
Round Trip Distance [km]: 
Net Elevation Gain [m]: 
Total Elevation Gain [m]: 
YDS Difficulty: 
Monday, September 4, 2017

As summer started to draw to a close it started to become more difficult to find partners for big trips to big peaks.  Given a single day off, with a desire for nothing too technical, re-rambling up the scramble route on Mount Temple seemed like a decent plan.  My previous time up Mount Temple had been 6 years earlier and during that trip I did not even bring a real camera (just a GoPro) so heading back up the peak at some point was certainly in the cards.  Ken had been talking about Temple for some time and jumped at the opportunity given the good forecast!  Being a very well-traveled peak neither Ken nor I bothered really reading the route description (taking a look at the line from Deltaform and Hungabee earlier on the in year it certainly does not seem that aesthetic...).  Being a busy year up at Lake Louise we agreed to meet up a little after 0700 at the Moraine Lake parking lot, but by chance ended up actually meeting outside of Trailhead down in the village ahead of time.

The scramble route on Temple is one of those popular routes up a prominent peak that attract all sort of folks.  The last time heading up with Wyatt we saw folks in flip-flops, those with only a bottle of water as their only 'gear', and all other manner of interesting characters.  Having been up from Moraine Lake several times earlier this summer the switchbacks up to the Sentinel Pass/Wenkchemna Pass junction were all too familiar, but Ken was cruising with a quick pace and in an hour and a bit we managed to reach the rest-benches at the junction.  Being only the start of September it was not prime larch season but touches of fall were still in the air and some of the trees were starting to reveal their golden-gleam.  Working up to Sentinel Pass we were quite thankful for the refreshingly cool air temperature.  The trail had improved considerably since my last time up to Sentinel Pass and travel upwards can be quite swift indeed.  From the pass, a good trail in the scree and talus swiftly branches into a warren of interlocking smaller pathways that generally trend upwards.  Sticking to the most auspicious looking line we made our way higher mostly avoiding loose rock (well as much as possible, it is still The Rockies after all).

Around treeline the views open up considerably.


Looking back towards Mount Fay from near Sentinel Pass.


Sentinel Pass itself was a bit of a busy place, even early.


Looking over to the Grand Sentinel, quite the climb!


Upwards to the higher reaches of Mount Temple.


From Moraine Lake to Sentinel Pass there is 720 m of elevation gain.  From the pass to the summit there is still a further 1000 to go!  So while the route is 'just a scramble' rather than a technical ascent there is still a lot of scramble to be done!  The main source of difficulty along the route is a grey band of rock at half way up from the pass.  In terms of climbing grade the step is likely somewhere around 5.0 but a slip could certainly be unpleasant.  Given the traffic the route receives, the holds can be quite polished, but one can be quite certain that the well-used rock is solid.  Working up the crux this time things went quite smoothly, some more rigid footwear than comfy hiking boots might have been nice but a few moves later and we were both up the step and only a few more colored bands of scree from the top (albeit, another 200ish vertical meters of scree).  While we had been working up there was a great deal of lift from the surrounding valleys.  Moisture from the valley started to form into cloud, and before long we were standing above a sea of clouds with only some of the nearby giants such a Deltaform Mountain piercing through the shroud below.  At around 4.5 hours from the car we could see a large Canadian flag flying (which we presumed that must be the summit), not far to go!


Much higher, lots of valley cloud started to build.


Deltaform barely poking out above the clouds.


Zoomed in towards Deltaform.

Topping out views were actually pretty cool.  The valley clouds were quite unstable (not like a good wintertime temperature inversion) giving a very dynamic land/cloudscape.  With a chill breeze we did not want to stay too long but struck up a conversation with some of the other folks who had summited the same time as us.  There are not too many peaks where you can be confident that you will share the summit with other folks, but Temple in the summertime is certainly one of them!  

Ken with a wide reaching view in the background.


A fair bit of cloud, interesting views though!


When the chill was starting to sink in we headed down and were joined by one of the other fellows from the summit, Jacob, a lad from Washington State (and apparently Temple was his first summit in the Rockies), as we stuck close for rockfall.  While heading back down we passed at least 7 other folks ascending the peak (oddly enough some who had helmets on their pack but were not wearing them?).  Given the amount of traffic on the peak there are trails meandering back and forth (some better than others) so a bit of thought is needed for getting back to Sentinel Pass!  From the pass out pace was quick but the trail does tend to feel longer than it is (especially the switchbacks to get back down to Moraine Lake).


Another look down to the Paradise Valley on descent.


Zoomed in over to the Deltaform/Neptuak bivy site, very good views from over there.


Almost back down to larches!


Ken and Jacob on the descent.

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