Updated: Sep 8
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 Mountain's highest peaks. Even more exciting is that of these tall mountains, Temple is the most accessible while only classified as a “moderate scramble”. As one of the prominent peaks in the Lake Louise and Banff skyline, the endless views from the top make the effort worthwhile.
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!
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. 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.
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. Keep your ears and eyes up. When scrambling, it’s possible for hikers to dislodge rocks from above you. For this reason, Alberta Parks recommends wearing a helmet.
Keep an eye out for cairns or rocks with ribbon wrapped around them; these will help you get through the chimney.
The Lake Louise area is natural grizzly bear habitat. While the high traffic at Moraine Lake 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.
You can find Parks Canada trail reports and bear warnings online: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ab/banff/activ/randonee-hiking/etat-sentiers-trail-conditions
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.
The trailhead to Temple is at Moraine Lake, a very popular tourist destination in Lake Louise. The lake is world-renowned for its vivid colour and cozy feel. One visit, and you'll see why.
Parking at Moraine Lake is one of the drawbacks of attempting Temple. The parking lot at Moraine is in high demand, yet limited in supply. We recommend driving to Moraine Lake parking lot as early as 5:30. Even this early, the parking lot can be close to full. Sleeping at Moraine Lake parking lot is not allowed. We slept at Lake Louise overflow, drove at 5:15 and took a quick nap in the campervan. Then, we made our breakfast at the parking lot and set off to the summit.
Parks Canada publishes parking lots statuses online:
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.
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 bit higher level of exhaustion. If the elevation is getting to you, just take your time.
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 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.
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.
If you’re thinking about hiking Mount Temple but still have questions, please feel free to contact us. We love sharing our experiences in the mountains.