The Temple Is My Asylum / 寺廟峯是我的庇護

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

See more trip photos here.

The Temple was a delightful scenery change from last week’s climb. My first trip back in The Core Enchantments since 2013. Since I didn’t have a permit, I did the climb as a long day trip. The walk-in lottery would’ve taken up most of my morning. I needed the precious daylight, not knowing how long the outing would take.

The Lowdown on The Temple

Access: Snow Lakes Trailhead
Round Trip: TBD
Elevation Range: 3480′-8292′
Gear: helmet, rock, rope
GPS Track: available

Snow Lakes Trail Approach

In anticipation of a long day ahead, I car camped near Snow Lakes Trailhead on Friday night. Then the next morning, I started hiking at 4:30 AM in the hope to avoid the afternoon rain. As expected, the parking lot couldn’t accommodate the number of people now visiting the area. Many cars, including mine, parked along the road.

I reached Nada Lake after sunrise. Then I continued to hike past it to the west shore. A handful of camping groups by the lake were slowly starting their day. Shortly after passing the crowds, I spotted the toilet sign past the first small creek. Then I followed the path uphill and walked past the toilet. The first cairn showed up soon afterward.

Nada Lake
Nada Lake

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Approach to the Upper Basin

After going through the light scrubs in the forest, I made it out into the clearing. Then the path climbed steeply along the southern edge of a broad talus field. I now could see Nada Lake down below. The trail went through a small group of slide alder and then ended at the headwall. The brush looked impassable at first.

Here, a ramp worked its way up the wall and then went back into the forest to a small waterfall. I relied on cairns and route finding to get past the slabs and through the next steep section. The path dwindled at some point, but then it reappeared after I made it to the top of the buttress. The terrain flattened here, where I got my first view of The Temple spires.

The Temple spires
The Temple spires

See more trip photos here.

Tamarack Meadows

Walking west along the drainage, I quickly made it through the wetland. The water here was stagnant with some fish swimming in it. I continued to follow the stream and then started turning north at 6200′. The brush was minimal, and the walk was quite comfortable. For the most part, I stayed close to the water for a straightforward approach.

At 6600′, I headed west on steep terrain to reach the Tamarack Meadows. Here I got my first good look at The Temple group, but I still couldn’t figure out the real summit. The meadows were barren without water, so I didn’t find this area aesthetic. But it could be the hazy weather. Perhaps when the larches turn, it’ll add some colors to this place.

Three Musketeers Ridge
Three Musketeers Ridge

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Route Finding through Rocks and Buttresses

After getting through the larch forest, I crossed another talus above the tree line. I finally figured out which tower was the real summit at the base of the ridge. Other than a couple of GPS tracks in hand, I wasn’t 100% sure of the exact route. So I went up toward the buttress with a sandy ramp under an overhang to the far right.

But before I went up, I decided to check out a different route. So I veered right toward the buttresses on climbers’ right. There I hoped to bypass the lower buttress, but it didn’t work out as well as I had hoped. So I went back down to plan A. There were many giant boulders below north of the summit block as well as the ridgeline.

The pathway to The Temple
The pathway to The Temple

See more trip photos here.

The Temple Climb

Wow, lots of big and loose rocks to get through to reach the summit block finally. Perhaps I got off-route, but some places required exposed class 4 moves. When I finally arrived at the first anchor, I immediately looked for the bolt on the slab wall. Several reports had mentioned this fixture. Once I located it, I then took a minute to examine the low 5th crux.

There weren’t any features around the bolt. So I stretched my arm to the far left for the one solid flake. It was the only feature that could get me to the narrow ledge higher up. It would be a solid footing. Glad I was able to reach the flake over the exposed terrain. Above the crux, I followed a small ramp to the east. Then another class 4 move put me on the roomy summit.

The crux
The crux

See more trip photos here.

The Temple Summit

Shortly after I arrived, the clouds began to roll in from the south. At first, visibility to the upper basin was weak. Then it gradually cleared up as the south wind continued to blow. At one point, the clouds lifted for me to see everything from McClellan Peak to Cashmere Mountain. The west ridge leading to High Priest somewhat obscured my view to the rest of the Core Enchantments.

Only the serene upper Snow Lake was visible from the summit. The spires to the east of me were in the way of the lower one. Dragontail Peak looked very different from this angle. I got a glimpse of Big Lou and Big Jim Mountain out by the Icicle Ridge. With clouds gathering over the horizon, I couldn’t make out most of the distant high points.

Core Enchantments panoramic view
Core Enchantments panoramic view

See more trip photos here.

Outro

My 60m rope was more than enough to get me down to the anchor below the crux. Then from the belay station, I rappeled to bypass the loose rocks and big boulders. Right above the steep buttress with the overhang, another rappel took me past the featureless slabs. Once I reached the bottom, I quickly down climbed out of the rockfall zone.

Reversing my route back down to the Snow Lakes Trail was rather uneventful. Many Enchantments thru-hikers were now heading out through Nada Lake. I chatted with a few of them along the way to kill the boredom.

Thanks for a safe outing
Thanks for a safe outing

See more trip photos here.

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