Mount Temple is the highest mountain in the Banff area. It overlooks Lake Louise from 3,543 meters above sea level. Its year-round snow-capped peak attracts mountaineers and hikers from across the country. The scramble to the summit of Mount Temple is an accomplishment any peak bagger wants to check off his list. Here is what you need to know to plan a hike on Mount Temple.
About Mount Temple’s Scramble
- Distance: 16 km
- Elevation Gain: 1 690 m
- Altitude: 3 543 m
- Trailhead: from the parking at Moraine Lake
The sixteen-kilometre round trip to reach its summit represents a vertical gain of close to 1,700 meters. The journey offers a bit of everything; valleys, lakes, scrambles, rock bands, gullies, scree, snow, and ice.
This hike is considered difficult and should be limited to experienced hikers and scramblers. There are exposed sections and frequent rockfalls. For this reason, a helmet is highly recommended. You can rent one here in Lake Louise.
For a detailed list of the hiking equipment I use on hikes and scrambles, such as Mount Temple, you can check out my essential hiking gear list.
The mountain is within Banff National Park boundaries, and a Park Canada pass is required.
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Getting to the trailhead
As of the 2023 season, access to Moraine Lake will be exclusively by shuttle. You can reserve your spot on the shuttle on the Parcs Canada Website. The shuttle and public transportation run many times a day, but getting on the first one in the morning is essential to have enough time for this long day scramble.
The trail begins at the famous Moraine Lake, where the first two kilometres climb several switchbacks to reach the intersection towards Larch Valley. The hike through the valley provides a little break from the elevation gain. The forest gives way to small shrubs, and the view opens up to the surrounding lakes and mountains. You can easily see the trail up the Sentinel Pass, which you need to reach to hike up Mount Temple. Eiffel Peak and Pinnacle Mountain stand before you as you traverse the valley toward Sentinel Pass.
The switchbacks then resume to bring us to Sentinel Pass between Pinnacle Mountain and Mount Temple. Already about 2,600 meters high, the snow is present, and the wind forces us to add a layer. The impressive Mount Temple stands tall to the right of the pass. This is where the real ascent of Mount Temple begins.
At the top of the pass, we put on our climbing helmets. As the trail is very exposed, wearing a helmet is highly recommended. Rockfalls by climbers higher up are often the cause of serious injury on Temple.
The route to the summit passes through scree paths, gullies and rock bands. Although the climb takes several hours, the landscapes change, and each part of the trail comes with its challenge.
The second rock band considered the crux of the route (the most challenging part), made me incredibly nervous. The first three-meter wall is easy enough to climb, but the second five-meter wall is a bit more technical. Nevertheless, I was determined to reach the top and make it up the rock band.
Although long and arduous on boulders and scree, the rest of the climb no longer includes any technical element. On the other hand, we must continue to be vigilant since the terrain is steep and exposed. Cairns and small bright pink ribbons tied to rocks show us the way but can sometimes be challenging to spot throughout the route.
After climbing for seven hours, we are finally rewarded. The summit offers a 360-degree view of the surrounding valleys and mountains. Unfortunately, the smoke from the forest fires that lingers in the air limits the view of the nearby mountains, effectively hiding the sea of mountains that stretches endlessly. Regardless, I make the most of the summit, taking a few moments to play in the snow.
A box full of messages from previous scramblers is nestled under a rock. After reading some of the messages from earlier hikers of the past few years, we add our own.
We descend by the same path. Although faster than the climb, it takes a few hours to return.
The rock band that was so distressing to me on the way up caused a few seconds of panic but it turned out to be easier than anticipated.
With bruised feet and worn-out legs, we reach Moraine Lake to end this long, exhausting, 12-hour day.
Nothing compares to the sense of accomplishment and pride at having set foot on the top of this magnificent and impressive mountain!
Last Words on Mount Temple’s Scramble
If you plan to conquer the impressive mountain, Parks Canada has a Scrambler’s Guide that will be helpful. You can print it and bring it with you on your hike to Mount Temple’s summit. I referred to it often while scrambling Mount Temple.
More Hiking and Scrambling in the Rockies
- Pyramid Mountain Hike in Jasper
- Hiking Guide to Mount Rundle’s Summit
- Tips on Hiking the Tower of Babel
- Hiking Guide to the Summit of Cascade Mountain
- 3 Epic Hikes in the Canadian Rockies
- Phenomenal Hiking on Roche Miette
- You might be interested in this list of 27 summits for beginner peak baggers and scramblers in the Rockies
- Explore everything this amazing region has to offer with this travel guide through 5 National Parks in the Canadian Rockies.