MAASZ Ridge (GR575903, Temple Lake Ridge)

When I climbed Little Temple in Alberta's Banff National Park last year, the unnamed ridge south of Temple Lake caught my eye as a potentially nice hike on its own.  Dinah Kruze and Bob Spirko attempted to snowshoe up this ridge in 2002 but stopped short of the high point because of avalanche concerns.  Bob used the somewhat unwieldy but useful name "Temple Lake Ridge" in his trip report, but for whimsical purposes, I will refer to the same as "MAASZ Ridge".

On the morning of 17 September 2017, Marta Wojnarowska, Zosia Zgolak and I rendezvoused with Asieh Ghodratabhati and Ali Shariat at Laggan's in the Lake Louise strip mall.  Together, we drove to the unsigned trailhead at a large gravel pullout along Moraine Lake Road about 5.8 kilometres south of the intersection with Lake Louise Drive.  Because it was larch-viewing season, Parks Canada was restricting vehicular access to Moraine Lake on this day, and we had some difficulty trying to convince the lackey at the controlled intersection to let us through.  From the gravel pullout, we crossed the road and found a partially hidden trail heading into the forest.  Thanks go out to Marko Stavric for tipping me off about this secret trail which provides the shortest and most direct access to Temple Lake.

Other than some deadfall near the start, the trail was in good shape as we climbed up along the south side of the outlet stream of Temple Lake.  We soon intersected the Moraine Lake Highline trail at a footbridge which we crossed to continue up the north side of the outlet stream.  Although we could have left the trail much earlier to hike up MAASZ Ridge, we decided to go the short extra distance to visit Temple Lake for jaw-dropping views of Mount Temple.  Once we had our fill of gorgeous scenery, we backtracked a bit along the trail until we found a suitable place to hop over the outlet stream and gain the east end of MAASZ Ridge.  There is some easy scrambling required along a rocky part of the ridge near the top, but otherwise, we enjoyed a very pleasant ascent with no difficulties whatsoever.

After taking an extended break at the top, we hiked further west for a glimpse of seldom-seen Ice Lake which turned out to be nothing more than two big puddles beside a lingering snow patch.  Eager to catch a late afternoon movie back in Calgary, Asieh and Ali left the rest of us here to rush back to the trailhead.  Meanwhile, Marta wanted to "touch" Mount Temple and actually scrambled a significant distance up the east side of the mountain while Zosia and I waited below.  Marta eventually came to her senses and returned to join Zosia and me, and we retraced our steps over the top of MAASZ ridge and down the east end.  The remainder of our hike back to the trailhead was quick and uneventful.

Just as I had done after hiking Little Temple last year, we subsequently stopped at Barpa Bill's in Banff town site for a Barpa Burger to cap off a very enjoyable and highly recommended outing.
Sure beats freezing our asses off at the campground we stayed at the previous night!
Marta and Zosia enjoy a warm breakfast at Laggan's.
Driving by, you would never guess that there is trail here.
The group crosses Moraine Lake Road to the start of the trail which is hidden in the trees just right of centre.
This should keep out all the casual tourists! Sonny crawls through some deadfall along the trail.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

For some reason, this trail felt less overgrown than last year. After intersecting Moraine Lake Highline trail, the group continues hiking up the north side of Temple Lake's outlet stream.
Such an arresting sight! The great hulk of Mount Temple comes into view in this meadow.
And it was a hot summer this year--it's scary to think how much snow initially came down here... Marta crosses the remnants of a huge avalanche which likely came off the slopes of Little Temple earlier in the year.
Best of all, there are no tourists here! Mount Temple towers high above its namesake lake.
Sure beats doing research in a stuffy lab! On the far shore is a research team which is studying brook trout in Temple Lake.
Asieh is a seasoned scrambler now; I can't even keep up to her anymore! Asieh and the other ladies traverse a rubble slope near the east end of MAASZ Ridge.  In the background is Little Temple.
You want larches? We got larches! The group climbs past some larches to gain the east end of MAASZ Ridge.
The larches match Marta's pants and backpack! Despite the absence of a trail, the east end of MAASZ Ridge is easy to hike up.
The ridge just keeps getting better and better! Marta hikes through the last of the larch trees on MAASZ Ridge.
Some easy scrambling keeps things interesting. The group approaches the top of MAASZ Ridge with Mount Temple looming behind.

Strangely enough, there is a cairn on the false summit but not the true high point.

The group tags a false summit near the top of MAASZ Ridge.


SZAAM, get it?

On the true high point of MAASZ Ridge (2452 metres) are (L to R) Sonny, Zosia, Ali, Asieh and Marta.


Looking at this almost makes you want to climb Mount Temple, doesn't it? Asieh, Ali and Zosia continue west along the ridge towards Mount Temple.
Looks like fun, but I'll pass! Zosia watches Marta scrambling up the east side of Mount Temple.
We'll just stay here and stare at our feet while we wait for Marta to return! Here is a view of MAASZ Ridge from the base of Mount Temple.
It's probably possible to descend to the lake from here, but it likely would not be pleasant... Clouds are reflected in beautiful Temple Lake.
How is Sheol even a mountain?? Visible across the saddle between Mount Temple and Little Temple are (L to R) Mount Aberdeen, Haddo Peak and Sheol Mountain.
Death throes of a lake? A long and hot summer has nearly dried up Ice Lake.

An advantage of returning the same way is...more larches!

Zosia descends the east end of MAASZ Ridge.


Even the bushwhacking was easy on this trip! Marta works her way through the last larches before regaining the access trail.
I can still taste the garlic! Zosia bites into a Barpa Burger at Barpa Bill's.
This hike is maybe the best kept secret in the Lake Louise area! Total Distance:  8.6 kilometres (~4.5 kilometres round-trip via shortest route)
Round-Trip Time:  6 hours 17 minutes
Net Elevation Gain:  571 metres

GPX Data