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Mount Temple
Lake Louise, Alberta
August 1977

I had the good fortune to climb Mount Temple before the term "scrambling" became vogue, and before the hordes of climbers that are now seen on the mountain.

At the time I had recently started hiking and backpacking. I had been to Sentinel Pass and thought It was possible to hike from there up Mount Temple. One day, I decided to climb it. I was hiking in Lake Louise and met two hikers – strangers – and convinced them to join me. That night, we unrolled our sleeping bags on picnics tables and slept under the stars. We set off the next morning.

It was a day of "firsts" for me: my first scramble, my first time leading a group, and my first mountain climb. I knew nothing route-finding; I didn't have a map nor could I read one. I didn't understand the importance of taking extra food and extra clothing, let alone a helmet and ice axe. I just assumed we could hike up this mountain. I had no prior knowledge or experience, just utter self-confidence and complete ignorance in mountain safety. It should've been a recipe for a disaster, but the way up was obvious, the weather fine, and the mountainside snow-free.

I led my two new hiking companions to Sentinel Pass. From the pass we started up a faint trail. When we reached a cliff band one guy turned back, but the two of us scrambled up and pushed on.

The trip took much longer than I expected, and we ran out of food. Near the summit, I felt strangely winded and stopped frequently to catch my breath. I reproached myself for being out of shape.

When we reached the summit, we met two other hikers, the only people we saw anywhere on the mountain. One of them took pity on me and gave me some food which I wolfed down. I didn't have a camera, but it was a clear day and I remember being able to see peaks for miles in all directions. I was amazed to see so many peaks.

We had no difficulties retracing our steps back down. As for my climbing friends, I never saw them again.

I found the climb exhilarating, yet 20 years would pass before I attempted another mountain.


Mount Temple seen from Protection Mountain

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