Top Ten Less-Extreme Rock Climbing Routes

Southwest Ridge, Canada
By Cameron M. Burns
On the mountain (Cameron Burns)

Southwest Ridge: Mount Temple, Canadian Rockies, Alberta

Mount Temple is often referred to as the "Eiger of the Canadian Rockies," because when viewed from the tourist mecca of Lake Louise, the 5,000-foot-high north face resembles—if only slightly—Europe's most famous north face. Mount Temple's north face certainly is one of Canada's most popular goals for the hard-core mountaineering crowd, but there are other routes on the mountain, including perhaps the easiest "classic" climb in the Rockies, the Southwest Ridge.

This route starts south of Lake Louise in the fantastically beautiful Valley of the Ten Peaks (depicted on the back of the Canadian $20 bill), works its way up the southern slopes to the crest of the Southwest Ridge, then follows the ridge to the glaciated summit. From here, there are outrageous views in all directions, as Mount Temple is one of the Rockies' highest peaks.

The great thing about the Southwest Ridge is that it offers the beginning mountaineer a little bit of everything: altitude, scrambling, and glacier travel across the summit ice field.

It's a stimulating mixture that will challenge but not destroy.

Just the Facts

First ascent: S. Allen, F. Frissel, Walter Wilcox, 1894

Time required: 1/2 day

Technical grade: IV, Class 4

References: Selected Alpine Climbs in the Canadian Rockies by Sean Dougherty


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