Mount Temple
3543m (11625ft.)

Located in the Bow River Valley between Paradise Creek and Moraine Creek; north of Moraine Lake; east buttress of Sentinel Pass. Banff Park, Alberta
Latitude 51; 21; 03 Longitude 116; 12; 21, Topo map 82N/08

Panorama viewpoint: Castle Junction; Upper Bow Valley.. Can be seen from Highways 1 and 93N

Named by George M. Dawson in 1884. Temple, Sir Richard (Sir Temple visited the Rockies in 1884 as leader of the British Association Excursion Party.) Official name.

First ascended in 1894 by Samuel E.S. Allen, L.F. Frissel, Walter D. WilcoxJournal reference App 7-281; CAJ 22-148. Other reference Wilcox Pg. 243.

Photo: Looking south-southwest down the Pipestone River to Mount Temple from the Trans-Canada Highway
More photos

Other Information
Looking west to Mount Temple from the Bow Valley Parkway

Clearly the most massive and the highest of the mountains of the Lake Louise area, Mount Temple is the first of the high peaks near the Continental Divide which one sees driving west along the Trans-Canada Highway. The view of the mountain from the vicinity of Castle Junction was described by Samuel Allen when he read an account of his first ascent of the mountain to the Appalachian Mountain Club in Boston on March 12, 1895. "One who travels west from Banff up the valley of the Bow will see in front of him, shortly after leaving Cascade Siding, a tall helmet-shaped peak rising in a series of inaccessible cliffs to a snow tipped summit. But it is not until Laggan is reached, and the western face of the peak is seen -now to the southeast -that its height or beauty is adequately realized, although from all points it dominates the landscape."

Rising directly from the Bow Valley, the mountain offers three quite different views to the traveler, each of which features huge, steep cliffs. The view from Castle Junction makes clear the fact that this is a mountain different in height and character from those to the east. Looming 719 metres above Panorama Ridge, Mount Temple rises to an elevation of 3543 metres, its rock appearing darker and more purplish than the nearer ridge and its upper cliffs always highlighted by snow. From the Moraine Creek Bridge on the Trans-Canada Highway, the mountain seems very close. This is the narrowest that it appears and is a most impressive viewpoint even though the summit cannot be seen.

Mount Temple is composed of quartzite and limestone that is early Cambrian in age, the formations being about 550 million years old.

The view from Lake Louise is the classic one of Mount Temple and, again quoting from Wilcox's speech of March 12, 1895, "From a base fifteen hundred feet higher than Laggan, this western face rises in one unbroken wall of nearly four thousand feet. A plateau above the latter is occupied by a magnificent area of glacier and neve, sweeping down in curving folds from the summit to the top of the wall, while the overhanging seracs above, and the fine powder on the scattered ledges below tell of many a thundering avalanche of ice. This is Mount Temple."

In 1894, Walter Wilcox, Samuel Allen, and L.F. Frissel made the first ascent of Mount Temple utilizing the southwest ridge. Despite the mountains inaccessible appearance from the various viewpoints in the Bow Valley, this so-called "Tourist Route" is of such difficulty that Ken Jones, the first Canadian born alpine guide, claimed that it is possible to "lead a milk cow to the top." Ken was of course joking, but technically it is an easy climb.

However there are risks involved both from falling rock and, if the route is lost, steep cliffs and avalanches. In 1955 seven young people from the United States were killed on this route in Canada's most costly mountaineering accident. A group of eleven were climbing up a huge bowl on the southwest slopes of the mountain on a very warm July 14th. Ten of the boys were swept 200 metres down a snowfield and though a bottleneck before the snow stopped and set up like concrete.

The cliffs of the north face of Mount Temple were not climbed until the 1960's.

When viewed from the north and north-northwest (along Highway #93) a striking, steeply-dipping line of snow is seen connecting with the east ridge of Mount Temple about halfway up the mountain. This snow-highlighting is not related to the bedding planes but is formed from snow gathering in what is known as the Aemmer Couloir. Guide Rudolph Aemmer led Val Fynn up this route in 1918 in what Chic Scott describes as, "a serious attempt on this ridge from Paradise Valley." The pair reached the base of what is known as the "Black Towers" at the top of the couloir.

Although there has been considerable confusion regarding the history of the naming of this spectacular mountain, including speculation that it was once referred to as Mount Lefroy, there is no firm evidence of a name for it until the arrival of George Dawson in the early 1880ís.

He officially named the peak in honour of Sir Richard Temple, an economist who was the leader of a "British Association" field trip to the Canadian Rockies in 1884. Primarily interested in India, this was Sir Richard's only visit to Canada. George Dawson was working in the area during 1884 but it is not known whether the two met there. Perhaps they did and somehow Sir Richard made an impression on Dawson who then chose to name one of the most spectacular peaks in the area in his honour.

For a panoramic view from the summit of Mount Temple visit

Legendary alpine guide, Edward Feuz jr. climbed Mount Temple in 1965 at the age of 81. [Gest]

Scrambling Routes
A moderate scramble via southwest scree/snow slopes. Mount Temple is the ultimate scramble. Towering majestically over Lake Louise, this hulking giant, third highest in the southern Rockies, presents a dauntingly impregnable wall of vertical rock capped by perpetual snow and ice. This impression is a facade. Hidden away on the southwest side lies the heavily-used "tourist" route. Temple is the most accessible 3353 m (11,000 ft.) peak in the entire Canadian Rockies and probably the most often climbed. With an apparent blessing by Mother Nature one summer's day in 1996, the sun shone while a small wedding ceremony was performed on the top. It is believed the wedding night was spent elsewhere. Anyone doubting the conditions (either their own or that of the mountain!), should consult the Lake Louise Warden Office before heading out. In a typical year, the route is in condition by mid-July. Carry an ice axe. Be aware of hiking regulations that may be in force on the approach route if there are bears in the area. Kane, Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies page 235

Climbing Routes
South-West Ridge (Normal Route) I
A deservedly very popular scramble to the top of one of the highest mountains in the Rockies. It has a very short approach on a highway of a trail, the ridge is non-technical, and the view from the summit is stupendous. An ice axe could be really useful since the upper slopes are often covered in hard snow. Early in the season, beware of cornices along the final section of ridge and at the summit; several fatalities have occurred because of carelessness on the upper slopes, so take care. One of the easiest routes in the book. Dougherty, Selected Alpine Climbs page 129

East Ridge IV 5.7
At the time of the first ascent this was a major undertaking and a very impressive ascent. Only in the late '70's did it lose its reputation. Having said this, it is not a trivial route by any stretch of the imagination. For comparison, it is longer, more difficult and hence more serious than the E Ridge of Mt. Edith Cavell. Certainly it is an excellent candidate for those climbers looking for a challenging one-day alpine route. No doubt its modern popularity is in part due to its inclusion in the book "Fifty Classic Climbs of North America". The original line of ascent followed the ridge throughout, including the ridge through the "Black Towers". However, it is now common practise to forsake the intricacy of the ridge in the Black Towers area for a straigh-tforward gully system that breaks through the Towers on the south side of the ridge. Crampons and an ice axe are needed for the final section. The route has been soloed in a few hours but most parties will take a major part of a day for a round trip. Dougherty, Selected Alpine Climbs page 130

North Face, Greenwood/Locke IV 5.8 A2
This route offers both the safest and the most technical climbing on the north side of the mountain. The majority of the climbing is on a rock spur and thus subject to little or no objective hazard. After a relatively tame start in the "Dolphin", the climbing on the spur becomes sustained, but is well protected and on good quality limestone. The crux is close to the top. Though predominantly a rock climb, crampons and ice axe are necessary to reach the start of the rock climbing. Rock shoes are an asset though not absolutely necessary. From a bivi at Lake Annette, the route can be climbed comfortably in a day with a pre-dawn start. It has actually been soloed in five hours! Best in August when it is usually driest. Dougherty, Selected Alpine Climbs page 132

North (Lowe) Ridge IV 5.6/7
Due to its position below the seracs of the N glacier, this route suffers from high objective hazard even though it follows a prominent rib. For some strange reason many people assume it is free of hazard. Check out the ice avalanche pictures in CAJ 1976 (p. 5) and judge for yourself! It is questionable whether this route should be included in a selected route book, but the few people I know who have done it say it is worthwhile. Probably the biggest gamble described in the book. The climbing is mostly easy 5th class with some short, harder sections. Dougherty, Selected Alpine Climbs page 134

North Face, Elzinga/Miller IV 5.7
Originally a variation to the N Ridge, this route has become the most popular route on the N Face. It is subject to some high objective hazards but it is possible to gain height much more quickly on this route than the Lowe Route and hence spend less time exposed to hazard. Furthermore, there are some route choices that dramatically minimize hazard. The route has been climbed in 6 hours though most parties will take longer. Dougherty, Selected Alpine Climbs page 134

North-East Buttress, Greenwood/Jones IV 5.8 A1
This takes the rib that deliniates the boundary between the N and NE faces and provides the safest route on this side of the mountain. It has been climbed comfortably in a day. Rock shoes are useful but not absolutely necessary. Take your crampons and axe for the summit snowfield. Dougherty, Selected Alpine Climbs page 135

North-East Face, The Sphinx Face IV 5.9 A2
To the east of the Greenwood/Jones route is another face, dubbed the Sphinx Face by the late Bugs McKeith, which forms a subsidiary peak on the E ridge. In the middle of this face is an obvious snow/icefield. The route follows this up to steep, loose rock bands which guard the north side of the E ridge. Not a particularly great climb but certainly of interest to those keen on doing an alpine "5.9 A2". I've included it more for completeness than for aesthetic reasons. The nature of the rock is such that a summer ascent would be a lottery. The first ascent party required one bivi on the face and one on the descent. Dougherty, Selected Alpine Climbs page 135

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