Oh Mount Temple… how have you managed to elude me so?
On Wednesday, when the weather was all clear skies and perfect, we were unable to hike Temple due to bear restrictions. But Mount Temple stood like an incredible beauty. The snow that stood atop the mountain glistened in the sun. Gazing at Temple was as mesmerizing as listening to Beyonce belt out a ballad. But on Sunday, when we were slated to make attempt #2, Temple turned into its alter ego. A fresh snowfall the previous night added a complication to the hike. And the wind was fierce. Sasha Fierce. Would we be able to hike Mount Temple? Or was it untouchable like the unstoppable Sasha Fierce??
To backtrack slightly, on Saturday while Dan and I were hiking the Tea House Highline Challenge, I received a call from Jeff from Banff Lake Louise Tourism and The Real Banff. He informed us that we’d be making another go at Mount Temple, and that our guide Joe from www.mountainguide.com would be at the Chateau for 5:30 am. Sweet! Since we needed a 4th, my good friend Paul made his way to Lake Louise, ready with all of his gear, and stoked to tackle Mount Temple!
The next morning, we left the Moraine Lake parking lot at 6:15 am and hiked through the Larch Valley. It was dark at the start, but as the light began to illuminate our surroundings, we quickly realized that it was a pretty special hiking area. In the fall, the Larch Valley is beautiful, especially when the larches turn a golden colour. Mount Temple, Mount Eiffel and Mount Pinnacle surround Eiffel Lake and the trail up to Sentinel Pass, so it was pretty awesome to see these gigantic peaks around us while we hiked. It snowed the night before, and so the trail was covered with a fresh blanket of snow. I’ve done the hike to Sentinel Pass before, but I’m always amazed how different the mountains look with snow. The clouds were dense the whole time, and it was windy! Mount Temple’s summit was hidden within the clouds. At over 3500 metres, it’s a beast!
The hike up was a bit uneasy due to the snow, but we persevered onward. Once we arrived at Sentinel Pass, the wind was relentless. But looking up at Mount Temple, the wind would be even more fierce. Sasha Fierce. That wind would be unforgiving for the next many many hours if we ascended. So we made the safety call to forgo Mount Temple, yet again. I’m okay with that. Safety first, folks! But Mount Temple has now elluded me a second time. Argh.
The day was not over yet. Instead, we would try to summit nearby Mount Eiffel. Once I looked up at Mount Eiffel from the lake, it seemed like a very acceptable alternative. It was epic! So off we went to make the ascent of snow covered Mount Eiffel. I’ve never hiked a mountain in that much snow before, but it was quite a fun day, and the scrambling near the top was awesome. Don’t get me wrong, we were pretty tired, having just hiked to the top of Sentinel Pass, but once we reached the top, the views were unlike other hikes I’ve done. All of the mountains around us were covered with snow, and Mount Temple loomed just an arm’s length away. By this time, the sun was shining through, and the view of Temple’s summit was now visible. I can only describe it as incredible.
By the end of they day, we hiked to Sentinel Pass (elevation gain of 732 metres from the trailhead), turned back, bushwhacked to the start of the ridge to Mount Eiffel, reached the summit of Eiffel (3084 metres; elevation gain of 1230 metres from the trailhead), and navigated back through the Larch Valley as the snow melted. It was a very long hiking day of 10 hours. Despite the slips and wind and cold, it was most definitely worth every step!
But it’s not over, Mount Temple. Mark my words. I can be Sasha Fierce too. You’ve been warned!
And speaking of Beyonce, it’s her birthday today, September 4th. She turns 31!