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

  • Reading time:6 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: 17.5 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 day of the visit. But the wait would’ve taken up most of my morning. I wanted to make sure I had enough daylight for the long outing.

See more trip photos here.

Snow Lakes Trailhead

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

Just as I had expected, the parking lot overflowed. It simply couldn’t accommodate the number of people now visiting the area. But I was lucky to find a nearby spot and parked.

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Snow Lakes Trail to Nada Lake

I reached Nada Lake shortly after sunrise. Then I continued to walk along the west shore. During which, I saw a handful of campers by the lake starting their day.

Later I spotted the toilet sign just past the first small creek. Then I followed the faint path uphill and walked past the toilet. Soon, the first cairn showed up amid the brush.

Nada Lake
Nada Lake

See more trip photos here.

Through the Boulder Field

I went through the light scrubs in the forest. Soon, I was on the hill in the clearing. Then the path climbed steeply along the southern edge of a broad talus field.

Now I could finally see Nada Lake below me. The trail went through a small group of slide alder and then ended by the headwall. It looked impassable at first.

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Buttresses and Slabs

But here, a ramp hugged the wall. Then the route went into the forest by a waterfall. I relied on cairns and went past the slabs. Later I went up through the next steep part.

The path dwindled at some point. But then it reappeared after I made it up to the top of the buttress. The terrain flattened here. Meanwhile, I had my 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. So that made the walking quite comfortable. Though, for the most part, I stayed close to the stream for a direct approach.

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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

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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.

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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.

The pathway to The Temple
The pathway to The Temple

See more trip photos here.

The Temple Summit Ridge

Wow, lots of big and loose rocks to go through to reach the summit block at last. Perhaps I went off-route at some point. But several places required some exposed class 4 moves.

Later I arrived at the first anchor. Then I looked for the bolt on the slab wall. Several groups had mentioned the fixture in their reports. When I found it, I took a minute to check out the low 5th crux.

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Crux on The Temple

There weren’t any features around the bolt. So I reached to the far left for the one solid flake that looked decent. Then I could use the narrow ledge higher up as a handhold and footing.

Glad I was able to reach the flake over the exposed terrain. Later above the bolt, I followed a narrow ramp to the east. Then one final class 4 move put me on the roomy summit.

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. So I could see everything from McClellan Peak to Cashmere Mountain. The west ridge that led to High Priest somewhat blocked my view of the rest of the core 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. At one point, I thought I had heard people talking by the water.

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

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. I rappeled to bypass the loose rocks and giant boulders. Later above the steep overhang, another rappel took me past the smooth slabs. Then I quickly downclimbed out of the rockfall zone.

My exit down to Snow Lakes Trail was unexciting. Later I saw many Enchantments thru-hikers going out through Nada Lake. 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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