BD employee Kolin Powick tackles the north face of Canada's Mount Temple
Black Diamond’s Director of Quality, Kolin Powick, felt he needed some alpine fun so he recruited his buddy, Matt Steward from SLC and blasted back to his Canadian homeland for a quick fix. Their objective: the Greenwood/Jones on the north face of Mount Temple. Below is the trip report and photos KP sent us upon is happy return to his beloved United States.
Left work at noon, plane took off at 2pm, landed at 4pm, some quick family visits and out to Canmore by 8pm, racked and to bed by 9pm. Still on schedule. Up at 3am, off towards Lake Louise, hiking by 4:30am, a short misstep at Lake Annette, a lost pair of gloves, but roped up for the first short rock step by 6:30am. Still on schedule.
I think we started off a bit too far left. This ended up causing confusion, route finding difficulties and mandatory extreme choss-oneering for about 800ft of terror. The clock was ticking and we were crawling. There was mumblings of bailing, but nothing secure enough to rap off, so we kept moving upwards. There were a few “can’t fall” zones and the odd “don’t even look at the belay” moments… but once we gained the buttress proper, the rock was improving, we were feeling better and we started moving faster. The constant uncertainty and climbing as slow as turtles on the extreme choss had cost us dearly, however.
Pitch after pitch of rock ranging from stacked-block-hope-we-don’t-die to good to excellent started to fall, and for fear of blowing it again, we were constantly referring to and cross referencing our two different vague five-sentence route descriptions.
[Matt negotiates some lower choss]
[Finally making some ground]
We’d burned a ton of time down low and had a long way to go. We were just hoping to get off the face by dark.
[KP finally on better stone.]
[Matt on an awesome 5.8 section – good stone and good gear.]
A race against the sun now. We passed a few bivy rings, and though the temps were warm and there was no wind, we didn’t want to sign up for a night of shivering—plus we still had light so kept moving as fast as possible. We were in the groove, and the rock continued to get better as we got higher…
[Matt blasting up another steep section of good stone, nearing the end of the quartzite climbing.]
We completed the quartzite and had a full horizontal rope-length rubble field traverse of limestone heinousness to gain the upper headwall of good limestone. The last few pitches were awesome and we were thankful to have rock shoes on to climb the techy slab with some mega exposure.
Rock shoes off, rope away, boots and ‘poons on, headlamps on, and a race for the summit in the fading light
[Matt charging for the summit (9:45pm)]
Luckily it was a well-trodded path to the summit—easy going. At one point, however, it became extremely exposed, and we probably should have had the rope on. We finished that dicey section, then with brains frazzled decided to pull the cord out for the last windy few minutes to the top. No point in going for the last ride of your life this close to the summit.
[Happy to be on top (10:15pm)]
~18 hours after leaving the car we were finally on top. A quick cell phone call to my wife to let her know we survived (so far), then it was a casual hikers’ trail down… or so we thought…
The first part of the descent was a no-brainer… even when exhausted and in the dark, but at some point we lost the trail and were above several gullies that appeared to cliff out. We ended up wasting about two hours and becoming even more exhausted by going back and forth, and up and down looking for the trail, and were about to call it a night and look for a bivy spot when one last ditch effort by Matt found the faint trail—so we continued descending.
We arrived at Sentinel Pass and had a decision to make. Down through Paradise Valley, which we didn’t know how good the trails were – longer, but dropped us back at the car; or the super trail back to Moraine Lake, and hope to catch a ride the 10km paved road back to our car.
Given our wasting time and frustrations with route finding at the very beginning of the climb as well as close to the end, we opted for the better, shorter trail back to Moraine Lake and Moraine Lake Lodge where we hoped we’d catch some late night partier or early morning lodge employee linger during the wee hours of the morning.
We re-loaded with water at one of the creeks and continued the knee-jarring descent, ensuring to yell and make lots of noise to warn the bear that was rumored to be in the area.
We arrived at the lodge at 3am and began the 10km walk along the paved road. We stumbled down the center of the paved road stopping every once in a while to lay on our backs, take a breather and stare at the zillion stars out that night. Just as one of us would doze off, the other would jump up and keep our crew of two moving.
When we chatting, the walking was reasonable… but as we zoned out and the hallucinations started the walking got more challenging. The center line turning into an endless line of choss, the lines on the side flipping up and grabbing at our feet, the imaginary whiz of choss screaming by our heads, and things moving in the bushes…
As our headlamps caught the reflection of a forthcoming road sign, we would think, “this has GOT to be it” only to be disappointed and continue walking.
About two hours in to the paved road walk from hell we finally saw some car lights heading up the road. We both jumped right in the middle with our hands up giving the driver no option but to stop. We requested/begged that he turn around and drive us back to our car at the Paradise Valley trailhead. Before he could say yes, we were both already piling in with boots and packs still on.
It ended up we still had over 3km of walking to go, enough that may have made us go bad. We ended up getting back to the car 25 hours after we had set out - one pair of gloves and few pieces of gear lighter with not one morsel of food left, exhausted, but psyched.
The next day we headed back for a celebratory photo. The Greenwood/Jones takes the prominent buttress left of the summit glacier, and starts well below what is hidden in this photo by the ridge in the foreground.