The easiest route on Mount Temple, an 11,000er in Banff National Park.


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FATMAP difficulty grade



Mount Temple is one of Banff’s famous peaks that exceed 11,000 feet.

Viewed from the Trans-Canada Highway near Lake Louise, its profile dominates the skyline.

From all angles, the mountain looks quite formidable, but there is a relatively moderate route hiding on one side, tucked out of sight from the highway and most trails in the area. This is the Southwest Ridge, and it’s one of the most popular alpine scrambles in the national park.

Though frequently attempted by people of many abilities, the Southwest Ridge should be considered a mountaineering route, requiring a lot of scrambling and route finding on exposed terrain.

The foremost danger is falling rock from climbers above, so a helmet is necessary at a minimum.

Other recommended equipment includes an ice ax and crampons.

The route is mostly thawed by mid-August in typical years, but snow lingers on the summit ridge all year.

The whole route, including the approach hike, is typically done in a day, but you may want to bring emergency overnight gear. The main scramble begins on Sentinel Pass, which is most quickly accessed from Moraine Lake via [Larch Valley](

From the pass, follow the climber’s trail to the start of the ridge.

From there, you’ll follow scree paths and cairns up many gullies and stair-stepped cliff bands.

The crux of the route is at the second band of gray-colored rock, where tall ledges require climbing with hands and feet.

Some parties choose to bring rope and harness to rappel this section on the way down, and a 2-bolt anchor can be found at the top. For the duration of the climb, and especially on the steeper sections, you should be very cautious of loose rock, so as not to dislodge anything that could injure someone below.

Similarly, be mindful of hazards above.

Sometimes gullies that seem to be the path of least resistance are unsafe because of rockfall, and the safer passage may be ledges that are more exposed but more solid.

Near the top of the route, the angle lessens significantly, and a trail wanders up through the scree to the summit.

This is the section that is most likely to have snow and ice, in which case it becomes more difficult and hazardous. The summit of Temple is a truly stunning spot, on the roof of Banff National Park at 3,543 meters.

Every horizon is painted with peaks of white and gray, with valleys between covered in green and dotted with blue.

The summit can get crowded on ideal climbing days, but there is some room to spread out.

When descending, try to retrace the ascent route exactly, rather than taking shortcut gullies where loose rock or drop-offs may be encountered. Sources: