Little Temple
Hoping to see some golden larches, I accompanied Zora Knezevic, Dinah Kruze and Bob Spirko for an ascent of Little Temple in Alberta's Banff National Park on 17 September 2016.  For reference, Bob proposed a variation of the loop trip described by Rachel Oggy, but how far we got would depend on the weather.  After a string of sunny days in the mountains during the previous work week, it was inevitable that the weather would turn for the worse over the weekend as we drove out to Paradise Valley trailhead.  Although a light drizzle put a damper on our mood and even elicited a few grumbles, it was not quite enough rain to make us pull the plug on our trip.  As per Oggy's description, we hiked southward along Moraine Lake Highline trail until we reached a small footbridge crossing the outlet stream of Temple Lake (about 2.5 kilometres south of the junction with Paradise Valley trail).  We left the trail here and climbed up an obvious beaten path to climber's right of the stream.  This beaten path led us without much trouble to the shores of Temple Lake, an overlooked gem which would otherwise be overrun by tourists if they only knew about it.

While Oggy and her contingent ascended an avalanche gully to the east of Little Temple's summit, we elected to climb up further to the west to circumvent some cliffs guarding the south side of the peak.  Beyond these cliffs, the rest of the ascent is merely a steep slog, and we encountered no difficulties in reaching the summit of Little Temple.  I arrived at the summit a little ahead of Zora, Dinah and Bob, but instead of waiting for them to catch up, I down-climbed a tricky Class 4 chute in order to traverse to a slightly lower outlier to the northeast.  Although there is nothing technical beyond the chute, the big rocks along the intervening ridge were quite slippery, and I had to be extra mindful of my footing.  Even before I tagged the top of the outlier, I noticed that the others had reached the summit of Little Temple, but by the time I returned, they had already disappeared down the west ridge.

At this point, I was not entirely sure where Zora, Dinah and Bob were headed, and I momentarily considered descending Oggy's ascent gully in hopes of catching up to them at Temple Lake if that was indeed where they were going.  However, down-climbing the Class 4 chute for a second time was unappealing enough to make me reconsider, and I eventually decided to simply descend my original ascent route.  As I began descending from the summit of Little Temple, I caught sight of the others and noticed that they were heading westward instead of back to Temple Lake.  I soon rejoined them further down the west ridge, and together, we worked our way through more larches before following a rocky draw all the way down to Lake Annette.  The rain, which had been light and intermittent for most of the day, began to fall more steadily as we reached the lake, but once we plunged back into the forest along Paradise Valley trail, we were largely sheltered for the rest of our hike.

Despite overcast skies, this still turned out to be a very scenic and worthwhile trip, but the real highlight of the day for me was stopping afterward at Barpa Bill's in Banff townsite to enjoy a delicious Barpa Burger.  I can hardly wait until my next trip to Banff!

Be sure to check out Bob's trip report.
Actually, it was just a light drizzle, but it wouldn't have taken much more for us to pull the plug on this hike! As Bob and Zora gear up beside Bob's car, Dinah looks astonished to be starting a hike in the rain.
A few logs had to be hopped, but there was very little bushwhacking here. Yay! A good beaten path runs alongside the outlet stream for Temple Lake.
There was a fairly big fish swimming here. Bob is reflected in the outlet stream with golden larches visible in the distance.
This is what Zora came to see today. Mount Temple is shrouded in clouds behind a large stand of golden larches.
They look brilliant even under a cloudy sky. Here is a closer look at the larches.
The sandwiches must not be that exciting from the looks on their faces! Dinah and Zora munch on sandwiches at Temple Lake.
The real grunt work begins! The group aims for the ridge to the left of the cliffs above.  The bushes on the slope can largely be avoided with some good route-finding.

 Because of the odd perspective, it looks like they're not that far from the lake.

Bob and Dinah climb an avalanche slope above Temple Lake.


After the grunting comes the slogging! Bob can be seen at bottom right climbing up the steep rubble slope beyond the cliffs guarding the southeast side of Little Temple.
Shame about the weather. I may have to return and do this one on a sunnier day...maybe on skis... Although the top of Mount Temple is hidden in clouds, the north face is still an impressive sight as seen from the summit of Little Temple.
I still think Sheol Mountain is an outlier of an outlier (Haddo Peak with its parent being Mount Aberdeen)! Mount Aberdeen, Haddo Peak, Sheol Mountain, and Fairview Mountain are visible to varying degrees across Paradise Valley.
Also an outlier of an outlier (Little Temple with its parent being Mount Temple)! The village of Lake Louise can be seen beyond the outlier of Little Temple.
The ridge in the foreground might be a worthwhile objective in the future... More golden larches are visible on the slopes of Panorama Ridge to the southeast.
People ski down this?? The Aemmer Couloir almost looks in shape for the ski season!
There might be other possible routes, but this one appears to be the most popular. This is looking back up the Class 4 chute that Sonny descended to continue to the outlier of Little Temple.
Actually, Bob is also visible but harder to discern. Zora and Dinah can be seen at the summit of Little Temple in this view from the connecting ridge to the outlier.
Call this "Littlest Temple"? Sonny reaches the top of the outlier (2637 metres).
Unfortunately, the sunshine was short-lived. A little bit of sunshine falls on Fairview Mountain and Saddle Mountain to the northwest.
This was the ascent route of Rachel O's group. This wide gully below the col between Little Temple and its outlier offers an easy way back to the larch forest east of Temple Lake.
Looks like I'm jumping over to the outlier. Wish it was that simple! Back on the summit of Little Temple (2651 metres), Sonny takes a leap of faith and elects not to take a shorter alternate descent route to Temple Lake in hopes of catching up to the others.
Appearances can be deceptive... Dinah, Bob and Zora appear to be happy to see Sonny again.
Really nice hiking here. Dinah descends through another larch forest.
Black Larches Matter (you had to be there)! Bob, Dinah and Zora are enjoying their descent through the larch forest.

 Who needs blue skies??

Bob, Zora and Dinah cross a boulder field before entering another larch forest.


Steer clear of the green spruce trees; they are bushwhacking trouble! Looking back up, Little Temple is barely visible behind the larch trees.
Like coming to the end of a great movie! The larch trees begin to thin out as the group descends lower.
Bits of trail here and there help. Zora and Dinah carefully pick their way down the rubble slope.
It's better to drop down to the left here than to continue sidehill bashing. Bob continues down the draw which eventually curves to the right.

 It also means the end of off-trail hiking and probably the end of solitude as well.

Lake Annette is a most welcoming sight after the descent from Little Temple.


It's raining... Here is a last look at the lower north face of Mount Temple from the shores of Lake Annette.
This is what I came to see today! Bob, Dinah and Sonny enjoy Barpa Burgers at Barpa Bill's in the town of Banff.
Despite the lousy weather, this turned out to be a nicer trip than expected. Total Distance:  16.4 kilometres
Total Time:  7 hours 21 minutes
Net Elevation Gain:  932 metres

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