Summit Mount Temple!

Mount Temple belongs to the exclusive club of mountains 11,000+ feet above sea level which is exactly at 3,543m. It is 11th on the list of the Canadian Rocky Mountains highest summits. As one of the prominent peaks in the Lake Louise and Banff skyline, the endless views from the top make the effort worthwhile. The notorious Mt Temple scramble unmistakably sits on our recommended list of hikes (aka the best hikes in Alberta). After all, Mt Temple is the most accessible of these tall mountains while only classified only as a “moderate scramble”.


Tempted? I would hope so! But before you embark on this adventure, please take a moment to prepare yourself with weather, parking and route finding. Temple’s scramble route leaves you at Mother Nature’s mercy so watch the weather. And, you’ll want to wear appropriate clothing based on the weather. Parking at Moraine Lake is a big deal, too (though slightly more pleasant if in a camper van). Researching the parking situation will be helpful. Or, reserve a spot on the bus. Finally, familiarise yourself with the route description so you know what to expect.

View of Moraine Lake from the top of Mount Temple

Summiting this peak is not for the faint of heart—and especially not for the ill-prepared. There have been countless injuries as a result of the more technical aspects of this hike. Please exercise caution.


Below is a list of tips New Age Travel and Services prepared to ensure a safe summit attempt and the best day on the mountain!


Preparation

It is important to watch the weather leading up to the day of your hike as much as it is important to check the forecast for the day of. Higher elevations mean lower temperatures; rain at the trailhead means snow at the summit. Weather influences route conditions. If you’re caught in a storm, your descent may get icy and dangerous. In fact, this hike is only accessible for 2 months of the year between the middle of July and the end of August because of snow.


Spot WX is a dependable website for weather forecasting used by many mountaineers. Select the area, and download the 2-day forecast. The report will show you hourly weather predictions on temperature, humidity, precipitation, wind and pressure.

Mount Temple Scramble from Sentinel Pass

It is also important to know that this is not a hike but a scramble. “Scrambling” means there’s an “undefined route of rock where you have to use your hands”. While ascending the scramble route, keep your ears and eyes up. It’s possible for hikers to dislodge rocks from above you. For this reason, Alberta Parks recommends wearing a helmet.


Also, try not to dislodge rocks yourself. If you do, yell “ROCK” to draw others attention upwards.


As we mentioned earlier, the scramble route is undefined. That said, the amazing Parks Canada Trail Crews do a great job of marking the trail. Keep an eye out for cairns or rocks with ribbon wrapped around them; these will help you get through the chimney.


As a side note, most popular hikes in the Canadian Rockies have some type of “signage” like this. Ribbons on branches mean “go”. Logs deliberately blocking the path or an N-O in the snow mean “stop”. Keep in mind, the wrong trail often looks more travelled. Logically, it’s because the wrong path is walked on twice as much–once out and once back.


The area around Mount Temple is a natural grizzly bear habitat. While the high traffic scares most bears away, Parks Canada may restrict visitation at times to avoid human impact on bears. During these restricted periods, you are legally required to travel in tight packs of 4. Here’s a great resource for learning more about bear safety.


You can find Parks Canada trail reports and bear warnings online, here.


Mount Temple is not on the list, but you can use Sentinel Pass Trail under Moraine Lake Area since Temple is an extension of Sentinel.


Moraine Lake Parking Lot

The trailhead to Mt Temple is at Moraine Lake, a very popular tourist destination. Those who picture Canada basically imagine this place. It is world-renowned for its vivid colour and cosy feel. One visit, and you'll see why.

Visiting Moraine Lake before we summit Mount Temple in Lake Louise

Parking at Moraine Lake is by far the biggest drawback to summiting Mt Temple. It’s in high demand, yet low in supply. Customers often ask “what time does Moraine Lake parking lot fill up?”. We recommend arriving as early as 5:30 AM. Even arriving this early, the lot can be close to full. Further, sleeping overnight is not allowed. We slept at Lake Louise overflow, drove at 5:15 AM and =napped in the campervan until breakfast. Then, we made our breakfast comfortably in the camper van and set off to the summit.


Parks Canada publishes parking lots statuses online


May to October is the peak season. Banff offers a shuttle service during this period to optimise the logistics for tourists. You also get two destinations with one ticket. There’s an interlake connection carrying travellers from Lake Louise to Moraine Lake or vice versa. Reserve your spot on the bus 48 hours in advance on the Parks Canada website. The Roam Bus is inexpensive– $7 at the time of this writing.


Route Description


Hiking Mount Temple Elevation Profile

Mount Temple summit clocks in at 3,543 m above sea level, or 11,621 ft. As one of the highest mountains, it gives you an unbeatable view of the valley. The hike itself is 16km roundtrip with 1,690 m elevation gain. To start, hike along the right side of Moraine Lake, through Larch Valley to Sentinel Pass.

View of Moraine Lake from Sentinel Pass Hiking Mount Temple

Sentinel Pass is where the elevation gain and scrambling officially begins. If your day ends here, the views are still magnificent.


As you get closer to the 2,800m elevation mark, you’ll start to notice the oxygen levels in the air thinning. You might start to feel dizzy, off-balance, or notice a higher level of exhaustion. If the elevation is getting to you, the right move is patience. Take your time to get to the summit.


Higher elevation also means colder temperatures and wind. As you ascend the mountain, you might consider pulling out the wind-breaking layer. I also like to put the buff around my ears. When you get to the top, you’ll cool down pretty quickly, as well. When we hiked Mt Temple, we wore 3 layers: T-Shirt, Wind Layer, Jacket, and I converted my shorts to pants at the summit--and this was in perfect summer conditions.

Scrambling up the Chimney while summiting Mount Temple

Descend the same way you came up and be wary of dislodging rocks on people below you. Always yell “ROCK” if one starts rolling. If you hear “ROCK” look up!


One quick tangent: The Larch Valley is superb in October. Larches are a unique deciduous-conifer tree that goes yellow in the fall before dropping their leaves. As the name suggests, Larch Valley is home to many Larch trees. If you find yourself in the Lake Louise area in the fall, go on a hike through the Larch Valley. It’s a unique view not available in many other places.



Check out our post on Fall Camping to learn more about how to take advantage of the fall season in Alberta.


Questions?

New Age Travel and Services has hiked our fair share of mountains. Our love of camper vans was fuelled by our love of camping and spending time outside. Not to mention, Alan Kane’s Scrambles in the Rockies is still our favourite bedtime reading. So, if you’re thinking about hiking Mount Temple and still have questions, please feel free to contact us.


We love sharing our experiences in the mountains. We also love to share the authentic van life experience. Rent a camper van from Calgary–a short drive from Banff and Lake Louise. Plus, check out some other cool content we have like our Camper Van Guide to Banff National Park.


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