The Temple by Prusik Peak in Enchantments via Snow Lakes Trail / 寺廟峯

  • Reading time:13 mins read

The Temple by Prusik Peak towers above Snow Lakes Basin in the Core Enchantments. It’s also the highest point on the eastern end of the vast region. Plus, to its south lies the broad Stuart Range.

The Temple summit spire through larches
The Temple summit spire through larches

See more trip photos here.

The Temple at a Glance

Access: Snow Lakes Trailhead
Round Trip: 16.5 miles
Elevation Range: 1320′-8292′
Gear: helmet, rock & rope
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: no pets

The Preface

The trip was a delightful scenery change from last week. It’s also my first time back in the Core Enchantments since 2013. I didn’t have a permit to stay the night, so I climbed in one long day.

The walk-in lottery was another way to get a permit on the visit day. But the wait would’ve taken up most of my morning. I wanted to make sure I had enough daylight for the long outing.

After sunrise
After sunrise

See more trip photos here.

Snow Lakes Trailhead

I car camped by Snow Lakes Trailhead on Friday night in anticipation of a long day ahead. Then the following day, I started walking at 4:30 AM. I had hoped to avoid the afternoon rain by starting early.

The parking lot had overflowed and could no longer house the mass going into the area. But I soon found an open spot on the road and slept. Several cars had parked illegally despite the warning signs.

North view
North view

See more trip photos here.

Nada Lake to the Boulder Field

I reached Nada Lake shortly after sunrise and continued along the west shore. A handful of campers by the lake started their day as I walked past their tents. Soon, I spotted the toilet sign past the first small creek.

I followed a faint path uphill past the toilet and soon saw the first cairn amid the brush. Then I went through the light shrubs and went up into the clearing. The path climbed steeply along the south edge of a broad talus field.

Nada Lake
Nada Lake

See more trip photos here.

Buttresses and Slabs

I could see Nada Lake below me as I went up through some slide alder that ended by the headwall. A ramp hugged the wall and soon went into the forest by a waterfall. Then I relied on cairns to go above the slabs.

The ground soon steepened, where the path faded at some point. But then it showed up again after I went atop the buttress. The terrain flattened here asI saw the first sighting of The Temple spires.

The Temple spires
The Temple spires

See more trip photos here.

Wetland Below The Temple

Later I walked west along the small stream in the wetland. The water was stagnant with a few swimming fish. I continued to follow the stream and then turned north at 6200′.

The brush was minimal and made the walking quite comfortable. Though, for the most part, I stayed close to the stream for a direct approach.

More talus
More talus

See more trip photos here.

Tamarack Meadows

At 6600′, I went west on steep terrain and reached the Tamarack Meadows. Here I had my first decent view at The Temple group. But I still couldn’t tell the highest point.

Meadows were barren without water. So I didn’t find this area pleasing. But it could just be the hazy weather. Perhaps when the larches turn in the fall, it’ll add colors to this place.

Three Musketeers Ridge
Three Musketeers Ridge

See more trip photos here.

Route Finding Through Buttresses

Later I went through the larch forest. Then I crossed another talus field above the tree line. From the base of the ridge, the sight of the actual tower was unmistakable.

Besides a couple of GPS tracks in hand, I wasn’t 100% sure of the exact route. So I headed toward the buttress. Here a sandy ramp went up under an overhang to the far right.

The pathway to The Temple
The pathway to The Temple

See more trip photos here.

Back to Plan A

But before I went up, I wanted to check out a different route. So I veered right toward the other buttresses. I assumed I could bypass the sandy ramp. But that move didn’t work out.

So I went back down and contained with plan A. There were many giant boulders below the north of the towers. Many of them sprinkled the ridgeline also.

Smooth slabs with a tight squeeze
Smooth slabs with a tight squeeze

See more trip photos here.

Crux on The Temple

I went through many big and loose rocks below the summit block and made a few exposed class 4 moves. Soon, I was at the first anchor, looking for the bolt on the slab wall mentioned in some reports. Then I took a minute to check out the low 5th crux.

Without any features around the fixture, I reached far left for the decent-looking flake. Then I used the narrow ledge above as a handhold. A thin ramp above took me east and onto the roomy summit with one final class 4 move.

The crux
The crux

See more trip photos here.

The Temple Summit Views

Shortly after I reached the top, clouds began to roll in from the south. Visibility to the upper basin was weak at first. Then it slowly cleared up with the south wind.

At one point, the clouds lifted to see everything from McClellan Peak to Cashmere Mountain. But the west ridge leading to High Priest had blocked my view of the rest of the upper Enchantments.

Upper Enchantments
Upper Enchantments

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Summit Solitude

Only the serene upper Snow Lake was visible from the top. The spires to the east of me were in the way of the lower pond. I thought I had heard people talking by the water at one point.

Dragontail Peak looked unrecognizable from this angle. I got a glimpse of Big Lou and Big Jim Mountain of Icicle Ridge. But I couldn’t make out the distant places with clouds over the horizon.

Core Enchantments panoramic view
Core Enchantments panoramic view

See more trip photos here.

Outro

My 60m rope took me past the crux to the anchor. Then I rappeled again below the loose rocks and giant boulders. Above the overhang, a final rappel took me past the smooth slabs and soon downclimbed out of the rockfall zone.

My exit down to Snow Lakes Trail was unexciting. Later I saw many Enchantments thru-hikers out through Nada Lake. So I chatted with a few along the way to pass the boredom.

Thanks for a safe outing
Thanks for a safe outing

See more trip photos here.

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