The East Ridge of Mt. Temple is ranked as one of the 50 classic climbs of North America. It has claimed more than a few climbers. Although many climbers bivy on the route making it a two day summit bid we started at 4:00am and attempted the 5,500ft elevation gain in a single push.
The loose rock on this mountain makes for a very challenging and dangerous climb especially as the sun warms up the rock. From about 11:00am every 5 minuites you would hear the whipping sound of large rocks soring over our heads at unseeable speeds - always hoping it doesn’t hit you or you will have a broken bone. During our bid up the black towers, the gully beside us that we contemplated climbing, at approximately noon - with the sun beading down released a major section of rock. It created the largest rock fall avalanche I have ever witnessed which then triggered a full snow avalanche. Our chances of surviving that would have been slim – so that was a lucky break. I was also spooked when a 2 foot by 1 foot ledge beneath my feet gave way while I contemplated my next move mid pitch - also on the black towers – with the rush of adrenaline I was up that pitch in no time at all after that.
Even from 7 am onwards we realized that today’s forecast of afternoon thundershowers was going to be an obvious reality. A brief squall hit is as we reached the top of the big step – a 3 pitch vertical V5.7 climbing portion of the climb, at about 10:00am. As we reached the summit the storm was within 5 miles and began in earnest half an hour later. We spent a grand total of 30 seconds on the summit taking a couple of photos and hurrying down the scramble route as quickly as possible to avoid being struck by lightening. Being in a lightening storm on the highest mountain within 50 miles is one of the most hopeless feelings a climber experiences.
We got back to the car at 7:40pm after 13.5 hours of continuous climbing.
Afterwords, Larry and I stopped for Ice Cream in Lake Louise – our post climb ritual.