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AUG
23
2017

Mt. TEMPLE Route: Greenwood-Jones aka Northeast Buttress (5.10, 4500', Grade V)

Category: British Columbia/Alberta      Trip Report #264
Partner: Chris Cox
Rock Type: Shale, Quartzite, & Limestone
Summit Elev: 3,543 m / 11,630 ft

A great Canadian Rockies north face route.


INTRO


Mt. Temple is perhaps the most prominent of the Canadian Rockies, a massive mount between Banff and Lake Louise and visible from the Trans-Canada highway. I had scrambled to the summit of Mt. Temple in 2010, via the 3rd class SW Ridge. However, I always wanted to return and climb a route on Temple's north face. Towering a vertical mile above the valley floor (1500m of vertical relief between Lake Annette and the summit), the impressive north face can be seen from the Lake Louise area and the Trans-Canada Highway, and has earned Temple the reputation as the "Eiger of the Canadian Rockies". In May 2012, John Scurlock and I flew past Mt. Temple on an aerial photography trip to the Canadian Rockies in May 2012, and I remember feeling dwarfed by the towering north face.

The north face routes are the big prizes on Mt. Temple. Unfortunately, several of them are exposed to high objective hazards posed by collapsing seracs of the north glacier and rockfall from the upper face. The Northeast Buttress route (aka Greenwood-Jones) provides the safest route up the north side of the mountain, taking the rib that delineates the boundary between the N and NE faces and meeting up with the East Ridge route at the lower east corner of the summit glacier. The climb starts out easy and becomes progressively harder, culminating in the sensationally exposed exit pitches, and finishes with a walk in the sky along the last section of the east ridge. The rock quality ranges from terrible to very good: the entire route is basically covered in rubble (I took to referring to Temple as the "Great Canadian Rockies Chosspile"), but there is a good amount of fun quartzite climbing on the crest and the upper limestone pitches are on some of the finest quality alpine rock around.

I climbed the Greenwood-Jones route with Chris Cox during a week-long trip to the Canadian Rockies. We had a great day, taking 17.5 hours car to car without ever really rushing, soloing and simulclimbing (in rock shoes) up until the final headwall, and always staying on route. The weather was perfect: warm enough that we did not get chilly on the shaded north face and cool enough that we did not sweat out on the long solo and simulclimb sections. It's one of those routes that I enjoyed doing (grand mountain and great workout and awesome partner), felt a great sense of satisfaction at having done (a Canadian Rockies classic face), but would not do again (just too much objective hazard and not enough good rock climbing). I would definitely recommend the route to those up for this sort of adventure. The following page gives a trip report for our climb. Enjoy!


TIME STATS

Approach to base of north face (via Paradise Valley): 2 hours, 30 minutes
Climb to summit ridge (intersection with East Ridge route): 10 hours, 20 minutes
East Ridge to summit: 50 minutes
Descent (via SW Ridge to Moraine Lake TH): 3 hours
Total car-to-car: 17 hours, 30 minutes


OVERLAY



PHOTOS

The route is long, but can be broken up into distinct sections, as I have done with the following photos.

Photos:
Photo descriptions:
Approach
(2nd)
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1. Mt. Temple as seen from the HWY 1 turnoff to Lake Louise. I snapped this photo as I headed to the Paradise Valley trailhead the evening before the climb.
2. In an attempt to keep our packs light yet give ourselves more security of the potentially-icy snow slopes on the top of Mt. Temple, we created hybrid crampons with steel toe parts and aluminum heel parts.
3. The route starts by climbing through a short steep wall of quartzite, just left of the waterfall.
Quartzite cliff (5.4) to crest (3rd)
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4. Looking up the short steep wall of quartzite at the start of the route. It is 5.4, but the rock is a bit smooth and the holds a bit more insecure feeling. We soloed it, but I put on rock shoes and protected a couple of moves with cams. Chris kept his boots on.
5. The exit move at the top of the headwall. We protected this with a cam.
6. Morning sun hitting the walls of Paradise Valley.
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From the top of the headwall, scramble several hundred feet on shale-covered ledges to where the buttress steepens.
4th-low 5th near crest (we soloed this) 
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8. 4th to low 5th climbing near the crest for several hundred feet. We sometimes were slightly right and sometimes slightly left, though more often slightly right of the crest. We soloed this part in rock shoes.
9. Looking down while on the crest. This photo shows how all of the ledges on Temple are just covered in rubble. Even in the sections of better climbing, there was quite a bit of rubble. This made us very careful while soloing, and wary of climbing directly underneath one another. Even so, we kicked off several small rocks over the course of the day. Beta note: I would not want to climb this route with another party on it.
5.7ish climbing near crest to steep, chossy wall
(we simul-climbed this)
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10. The crest steepens about halfway up. This photo was taken just before we decided to rope up and simulcimb.
11. Looking up at the 5.7ish climbing where we roped up.

12-14. Simulclimbing on the crest. The climbing is pretty good in this section for the most part.
15. Rugged walls of Sphinx Face to the left of the Greenwood-Jones route.
16. Jenga pile of blocks. Interesting to think of how this might have formed. (My go-to geologist consult Doug McKeever says: "The spectacularly unstable-looking stack of blocks appears to be due to intersecting joint sets, one vertical set between the stack and the main wall, another vertical set facing the viewer, and a third prominent horizontal set that separates the individual blocks. The whole pile could topple at any time, even though it has possibly been in this seemingly gravity-defying position for centuries. Wouldn't last in quake country, however!")
17. The route description says to climb though a "cave-like chimney" in the area where the rock quality deteriorates and the route enters a band of "chocolate-colored rock." This may or may not be the correct chimney, but either way it was pretty fun to climb and worked quite well.
18. Closer view of the chimney.
19. Looking out from the chimney.
20. This is probably the "steep corner crack on the right of the crest" above the chimney mentioned in our route description. 
21. Or is this the chimney? (I am pretty sure the way we went was correct - and it certainly worked quite well - but there are a lot of options in this area of the route.)

22. More steep climbing up until the steep chossy wall above. We simulcimbed this.
23. Interesting huecos in the rock.
24. More interesting rock.

Steep, chossy wall to base of limestone headwall
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25. The steep chossy headwall. The route description says to traverse left here to avoid climbing straight up it.
26. The sketchy traverse left under the chossy headwall. Rock quality is horrendous here. I really wouldn't want to do this section if it had slippery snow or a coating of verglas on it. I'd probably be more inclined to go straight up if that were the case.
27. A 00 in chossy rock. What an anchor. (I did have a couple of other cams in the anchor not pictured in the photo, but with this quality of rock, the whole anchor could have exploded out of the face under a fall....).
28. A view out towards Lake Louise from high on the route.
29. A three-piton anchor at the end of the traverse section. Rock quality here was fortunately a bit better.
30. Looking up from end of traverse. I climbed the crack system on the right back up to the crest (all the way to the base of the final headwall) in a long 60m lead (see note about this in next photo caption). The climbing in the first half was 5.7ish and the climbing in the second half was very loose and unprotectable. Might also be able to climb the groove on the left, may be easier but probably looser. 
31. The chossy section just before the final headwall. This was a bit nerve wracking to lead. It was also a bit dangerous for the follower to have the rope running over the choss. It might be possible to climb straight up to a belay and then traverse over the top of this to avoid having the rope dragging through choss above the follower.

Limestone headwall (3 pitches of 5.9-5.10)
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32. Chris starting up Pitch 1 of the limestone headwall.
33. Pitch 1 of the limestone headwall. 5.9ish climbing. 
34. Chris at the "red alcove" belay at the top of Pitch 1.
35. Looking up from the red alcove belay. Pitch 2 starts by going around the roof to the left.
36. The steep and sustained corner on Pitch 2. 5.9-5.10a (ish) climbing.
37. Looking up from the belay at the top of Pitch 2. This belay anchor is fixed and composed of a couple of pitons and a couple of nuts. There is another belay anchor under the roof, but don't be suckered up there. 
38. Chris climbing up Pitch 2. The best climbing on the route so far. And it would only get better with Pitch 3.
39. Looking down the buttress all the way to the base. As you can see, the buttress is covered in rubble, even through the sections of good climbing. I would not want to climb this route with another party on the route.
40. Chris starting off Pitch 3, just past the initial 5.10ish move onto the exposed ledge. This move is protected by a piton above and left. The original ascent party (and likely several climbers since) did this move as a tension traverse and gave the route a rating of 5.8 A1. Chris cruised through it. There are a few more pitons to protect the climbing here. The exposure is great.
41. Climbing midway up Pitch 3. Note the piton in lower left of the photo. 

42. Looking down while climbing the limestone slab on Pitch 3. This is probably the best section of climbing on the route, and felt 5.10ish to me.
43. Beta note: There are a lot of fixed pitons on the limestone headwall, and we found no need to place any of the pitons we had brought with us.
44. The final crack to the top at the end of Pitch 3. This is the end of the roped climbing on this route.
45. Steph nearing the top of the final pitch. (Photo by Chris.)
Top of headwall to East Ridge
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46. At the top of the headwall. This is where we put the rope away. Lake Louise and Highway 1 far below.
47. Looking up at the terrain between the top of the headwall and the East Ridge. 
48. The rugged north side summit glacier.
49. Steep cliffs on the left edge of the NW Ridge.
50. The final scree slllooowgggg to the East Ridge. Yes, this mountain is a giant choss pile...
East Ridge corniced snow ridge to summit
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51. Looking at the final corniced snow ridge to the summit. This is the last part of the East Ridge route (a popular fifty classic) as well.
52. We had put steel toes on aluminum backs, to give a bit more bite when kicking but reduce the weight of having steel backs. This worked well for the short icy sections we found on the final snow ridge.

53. A short icier section on the final snow ridge. Although the photo doesn't make it look particularly steep, the snow was steep and hard enough that a slip would have been difficult to arrest...
54. Steph on the final snow ridge. (Photo by Chris.)
55. Approaching the summit. There are some big cornices on the left so we stayed well below those.
56. As you get closer, the top of the ridge becomes less corniced and more mellow, while the right side becomes steeper.
57. A final narrow section on the ridge just before the summit. Apparently this part can sometimes be narrow enough that people straddle it to cross.
58. A minor crack to jump just before the summit.
On top!
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59. Chris on the summit.
60. View of Valley of Ten Peaks from the top of Mt. Temple. From L to R: Babel, Fay, Little, Bowlen, Tonsa, Perren, Allen, Tuzo, Deltaform, Neptuak.
61. Crepuscular rays over mountains.
Descent: SW Ridge to Sentinel Pass and trail
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62. Looking back towards summit of Mt. Temple just after starting down the SW Ridge.
63. Pleasant evening light as we descended the SW Ridge, nearing Sentinel Pass. Pinnacle Mountain on other side of pass.

64. I recalled seeing a photo in my parents' old photobooks of my mom changing my diaper on a boulder, with Mt. Fay in the distance. I thought that this might be the boulder, but after digging out the old photo (see next photo), the diaper-changing boulder is closer to the treeline.
65. Me getting my diaper changed in 1983. I was born in May, so I must have only been a couple of months old here.
66. My parents and me on our trip to the Canadian Rockies in 1983. Compared to 2017, the  glacier on Mt. Fay looks a little bit bigger and I look a little bit smaller.