Sphinx Face in a Day

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The huge Sphinx Face on Mount Temple in the Canadian Rockies, which just two weeks ago got its first winter ascent (and possibly second ascent in 15 years), was climbed in a single day round-trip by Scott Semple and Eamonn Walsh. The two left the car at 3:45 a.m. on March 28, started climbing the Sphinx route on the North Face at 7:20 a.m., and reached the East Ridge of Temple at 6:30 p.m. They descended back down the face, aided by anchors left by Raphael Slawinski and Valery Babanov during their two-day first winter ascent of the face in mid-March. “The climbing was made for drytooling techniques, as there was hardly any ice on the entire climb, yet it’s too cold and snowy to go without warm gloves,” Walsh said. He added that the crux was a squeeze chimney that required “lots of sweat and shredding of clothes.” Walsh said the route was not the horror show the Rockies guidebook makes it out to be, at least not when loose rock is frozen in place. “The route in general was very straightforward,” he explained. “There is good gear to be had throughout.” But Walsh may be too modest. “Climbing a route of that stature in a day in what is essentially still winter is a remarkable effort,” said Slawinski.

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