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[TR] Mount Temple East Ridge - Rockies -8/12/2014

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Trip: Mount Temple - Rockies - East Ridge


Date: 8/12/2014


Trip Report:

Hunter and I had planned a weeklong trip into the interior of BC/Rockies to try and climb some routes that had been on our radar for a few years. We had intended on South Ridge of Gimli, East Ridge of Temple and if weather held perhaps a line or two in the Bugs or Mount Louise but weather turned us home after Temple. After having a great time on Gimli (Aug 10) Hunter and I drove to Lake Louise to check into the hostel (which was super nice!) and scope out the approach for the following day (Aug 12). We noted that the weather was forecasted to deteriorate starting Tuesday evening so we hoped that we would at least have reasonable weather on the ascent.


Hunter and I spent a fair amount of time going over trip reports and info to try and minimize the difficulties with route finding. For the most part we didn’t have any major issues during the climb but there are certainly many variations on this route, especially on the lower part of the ridge. From the information we gathered the most critical routefinding portion of the East ridge is knowing where exactly to enter into the black towers and up to the summit ridge, I read several stories on epics and rescues from people heading up the wrong gully(s).


At 4:15am the next day Hunter and I started from the pullout located about 100m north from the main slide path at the base of the East ridge as mentioned in the 11,000ers book (seen easily from Google earth and in the photo of Hunter below). There was another party that started shortly before us and we followed them up the slide path, which takes you up into a broad gully. In the dark we scrambled up this gully until a few carrions led us out of the gully to the right and onto more face climbing. At this point we passed the other party and we juggled our way through various ledges going left, then right at times until we popped out onto the prominent beginning of the East Ridge with good views all around as the morning light started to fade in. I noted that the other party came up a different way, more to the climber’s right, and caught up with us as we were beginning the ridge.


So the correct way from this location, it seemed to us anyways, was to travel approx 60m horizontally to the right into a large, loose, gully. Hunter and I started upwards a little to early and wound up scrambling vertical terrain until we realized it was best to traverse into that gully. This gully went up for a few rope lengths until you got to another broad ledge below the steep ridge. At this location we again followed a carrion rightward on a ledge for around 50m and then we climbed up, angling left back toward the ridge proper. This brought us to the ridge top where we carried on scrambling easy terrain to the base of what we understood was the little step.



Hunter coming up the lower ridge



Me heading up the little step as morning sunlight catches us on the ridge


There are a few short vertical moves that get you over this section. We roped up for this pitch and noticed from below that someone had placed a bolt at the crux move (In fact all belays on the big step and the black towers had bolted belays). After quickly climbing over the little step we were greeted with our first views of the big step and the rest of the upper mountain. Here we briefly walked along the ridge, up a short gully between the next bump, and in no time we we standing under the big step, at around 7:30am.



First views of the big step and the upper mountain



Our line up the big step with belay locations in yellow


From below the line didn't seem obvious until we started climbing it. It looks steep, and it is, but there are jugs everywhere. The summit post description for the next 4 pitches turned out to be very accurate and was very helpful. The climbing never seemed harder then 5.7 and the protection was quite reasonable with a few run outs.


Hunter took the first pitch (25m) which started just left of the ridge crest and ended at a belay station on nice ledge on top of a large block. The other party started the 1st pitch after us but we never saw them after that and we weren’t sure what happened, if they bailed or continued??



Hunter on the 1st pitch of the big step


On the 2nd pitch (50m) I climbed up and left of the belay for about 3m then continued left of the ridge crest until near the end I went around right of the crest to another large ledge and the belay. Unfortunately a yellow metolious cam I placed walked far into a crack and is now fixed for future parties.



Heading up the 2nd pitch


The 3rd pitch was short (20m) and Hunter went up and then right to a large broad ledge where he brought me up. Thereafter, as the route description says, we headed left on a ledge to a long easy gully that we simul climbed for one rope legth up to the last technical part of this section. The last pitch was 25m and went up the obvious steep and dark chimney which had two short cruxes, one on the far right corner and one topping out.



Hunter heading up the steep and dark chimney on the 4rth pitch


After this chimney we went left and quickly walked up easy terrain to the crest where we could now see the final portion of the route heading up to the black towers. Time was now 10:00am.



View of our route to the black towers, final gully obscured by a buttress.


Here we changed back to our boots, put the rope away, and scrambled the rest of the easy terrain up to the top of the ridge where it ended at a headwall with the traverse toward the black towers appearing obvious to our left, at spots on this last ridge section we went right of the ridge crest, then back on top. Heading now on this scree ledge toward the black towers there was a visible track in the scree where other parties had begun the traverse prior. We headed along this track along the ledges to a location where there was a good size creek originating from the snow melt above, which we used to fill our bottles and rehydrate. At the creek we scrambled to the upper ledge which still had snow. We walked about 80m in the moat leftward where we came across the large and distinct flake which signals the proper way up the black towers. There is a bolted anchor at the top of the flake. The actual gully in the black towers that we ascended was fairly obscured on the approach by a buttress so it wasn’t completely evident where we would exactly be climbing until we were standing underneath.



The critical flake/chimney that has a bolted anchor at the top, providing the proper access up the black towers. We thought the most difficult moves in the black towers was the short dark corner seen directly above this flake, easy low 5th.


We opted to continue free soloing unless we encountered terrain warranting a rope. I think the most difficult part of the black towers was probably the first pitch, with a steep corner. The rest of the 4-5 pitches were fairly mellow (4rth-low 5th) but I would add a little disconcerting. The topo accurately describes this section of the mountain when it says to climb the gully on downward sloping holds covered in gravel. This part of the route is easy but very loose with pea gravel on every hold. Nevertheless we worked our way up into the main gully (shown best on the MCR photo outline http://informalex.org/mharc/html/MCR/2011-08/jpgeea8MYP0Q9.jpg) and followed it to the end and topped out on the summit ridge at 12:00pm.



Final pitches up the black tower are on loose gravely edges


On the summit ridge we put on crampons and with ice axes we strolled over varied ice, snow and cornices to the summit with minimal difficulty arriving at 1:30pm, roughly 9hrs from the car. The skies were becoming overcast quickly and fearing rain we took some photos and then began our descent down the hikers trail and down the road back to our car. With several breaks and chit chats with other hikers we got back to our car around 4hrs from the top.



Final walk up to the summit via the snow/ice ridge


Overall the East Ridge is a beautiful line but like everyone knows is very loose in places. It is also fairly long and committing such that retreat off the route higher up would be troublesome.


We brought a single set of cams (plus x2 red and yellow link cams), half set nuts, x8 runners, x2 pitons (didn’t need) and x2 screws for upper glacier (didn’t need), rock shoes for the big step and a single rope.





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Thanks, this was definitely a fun climb. I think the key to getting this route done in a reasonable time is free soloing everything except the big step (and little step)...There is just so much rock to climb over so if you have to pitch anything else out it will eat up lots of time, which may be necessary if it starts to rain... I believe I recall the book saying the average time for this route was 14-16hrs??

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Ditto, and this TR is one of the best sources of beta I've found. Almost makes it sound truly fun!


In your opinion is simuling up the black towers a bad idea? Too much loose rock, or not enough gear?

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Nice work and great pictures. Too bad you didn't have better weather, but it seems to be fairly common up there. When I was there last summer it rained 5 days out of 7...one of the reasons I only did the scramble route on Temple.

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Hey Jason, i'm glad if this TR could help others heading onto this route, I appreciated the info i was able to find from other peoples contributions. You could certainly simul the black towers and weave through all the bolted anchors if that gave more comfort going over this terrain, there did appear to be spots for decent protection/cracks but it seemed very spaced out between the anchors.


The climbing is easy but since there is much loose rock we thought it would be safer to climb close to each other to minimize the hazard that loose/falling rocks/pebbles would cause to the follower, and we did release rubble as we ascended... My recommendation for people less comfortable on the terrain in the black towers would be to free solo near your partner wearing your rock shoes, rather then wearing boots like we did...you will likely climb faster and more safely with shoes.

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Nice one. We were up the week before and were not that fast. We also had to dodge a pretty good barrage from one of the gullies approaching the black towers.

I think that the advise that you are giving is right on. For me the climbing on the black towers didn't seem much harder than any of the other scrambling - I think you are right to suggest that keeping close and unroped is probably the safest. We had the rope out simuling and it never got hard enough to warrant it. Ditto on the rock shoes.


For us after the one steep pitch on the little step and some scrambling we headed right on a ledge when we shouldn't have, and climbed three pitches of the worst rock I've ever climbed. After a pitch and a half it was obvious that the route was a scramble out to the left but by the time we worked it out it didn't seem worth trying to get over to it. I guess the moral for the route is if it is more than a low fifth scramble and isn't the little or big step you are off route. Thanks for the report.

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