Deep Lake is not near as popular a climbing destination as the Cirque of the Towers in the Wind River Range in Wyoming. There are not as many climbs and more particularly not as many climbs that are within the skill set of the Salt Lake City crowd. Of course that yields a benefit of not as many campers at Deep Lake either. That being said, they still run horses (2016) all the way up to just below Deep Lake so like most areas in the lower 48, the wilderness experience will not be anything like the Canadian Rockies or Alaska, but the Winds are special for sure.
Deep Lake is the middle of three bodies of water that make up the northwest drainage coming down from Temple Peak to Big Sandy Lake. The hike in took us less than 3 hours but most would take longer. The guide advises camping somewhere between Clear Lake and Deep Lake, but that makes no sense for any of the climbs with the exception of any routes at the west end of Haystack. Camping up at Deep Lake offers two major advantages. You will experience fewer mosquitoes and it is more pristine than the many camps established right below it. There are many sites established with primitive fire pits, etc. There is tons of running water however I have witnessed horses shit right into the water course below Deep Lake.
The Southwest Arête on Lost Temple Spire is a decent route but nothing spectacular. It does not compare to Black Elk for example. The route has three crux pitches discussed on Mountain Project. A lay back finger pitch (5th); a thin seam requiring a solid move or two at the grade (6th-the true crux); and a pitch (8th) that many seem to want to skip because it is wide, but if you have any wide experience at all there is nothing to it. The other pitches are inconsequential except for maybe the short traverse pitch (7th) which we combined with the 6th pitch. It is heady but well protected.
Hike up to Big Sandy Lake and take a split trail on the right before you reach the water. Follow the trail along the south side of the lake. Hikers and fishermen camp in this area the trails are intermittent. Bottom line is stay reasonably close to the shore and cross over a drainage on its southeast tip rejoining a more established trail heading up to Clear Lake. This shortcut saves some time versus following the north shore of Big Sandy. There are three significant drainages feeding Big Sandy from the east and you are going up the middle one. Once onto the more established trail, follow it along the north shore of Clear Lake on an established trail. You start gaining some elevation up slabs from Clear Lake to Deep Lake. You will pass a ton of camping options, but as before mentioned I cannot imagine camping below Deep Lake like many suggest. What you think you might save on protection of the wind will cost you in bugs and scenery.
The current beta available (2016) for Lost Temple Spire is poor. None of it was clear regarding how to find the start of the climb or even the correct orientation of the spire. So I am going to try and make this real plain. The spire is at the north (left) end of the broad and expansive East Temple Peak. It sits between East Temple Peak and Steeple Peak. Therefore there are two cols. One between Steeple Peak and Lost Temple Spire and one between Lost Temple Spire and East Temple Peak. The guide leads you to believe (by bad wording) that you ascend to the col between Steeple Peak and Temple Peak Spire. That is easy to do but not where the route is. Rather you are heading for the col between Lost Temple Spire and East Temple Peak. Part of the confusion and/or difficulty dealing with this approach is that the spire is so well hidden in the foreground of East Temple Peak that it becomes difficult to make it out. Others speak of it being hidden. It is not hidden in a literal sense, rather it is hard to make out even though you are staring right at it. Hike along the left shoreline of Deep Lake. Follow the drainage from Deep Lake to a smaller unnamed lake right at the base of East Temple Peak. Head up from there on large talus with no distinct trail and traverse right until you can now see the separation of the spire from its peak. You are staring up at the southwest arete which is the route. Locate an easy right to left ramp that takes you to below the steep col. Traverse left and start at any number of starts for the arete. The 2nd pitch is easy to identify atop a sloping ledge. The first not so much.
Route Description900’+/-, 8 Pitches, 5.10b
1st Pitch- 100’- 5.7/ There are no doubt variations of this first pitch. It was not obvious where to start via the beta we had. I chose a dirt filled slightly overhanging crack that ran up a right facing corner. It was probably more 5.8/9 then 5.7 but went well enough and lands you on a long sloping ledge. Look up and left and you should see rap slings (nuts). Go ahead and move to the base of this corner for the belay. I did not climb through a “chock-stone” or “dike” mentioned in other resources. I am going to predict that description and thus easier climbing starts further right from the photo of our first pitch which is more direct. There are several corners above the sloping ramp, but the one above the slung rap is the 2nd pitch and obviously cleaner than the other choices.
2nd Pitch- 130’- 5.10a/ Climb the right facing fun corner placing gear at will on good rock. The guide mentions a “hard overlap” but I do not recall any crux move on this pitch. Of the 5.10 pitches this is by far the easiest. You land at a nice ledge with another rap anchor.
3rd Pitch- 160’- 5.8/ Starts out with nice and obvious hands then onto relatively easy multiple ledge climbing. No fist jams necessary as the guide suggests. I passed the rap station as I recall and easily made it to the base of the left facing corner with a rap slung on a flake atop it.
4th Pitch- 110’- 5.9/ Climb the uneventful corner, move right over the slung rap and continue up a variety of paths to a ledge below the obvious, rust colored, right facing finger seam corner.
5th Pitch- 70’- 5.10a/ There is quite of bit of sandbag discussion on Mountain Project. These next two pitches are the crux of the climb and by far the most sustained and technical compared to any of the other climbing. Lay back, ring lock and finger jam up the well protected, but stout for the grade, slightly overhung right facing rust colored flake. It turns into a real corner half way up and the climbing eases to yet another ledge. This block ledge is described as “square cut” in the guide but if far from square cut. It is much longer than it is wide and slopes to the left. Do not be tempted to keep going looking for the square ledge (there is none). Traverse left and belay at the left end of the block. There is a seam hidden just 2-3 meters further to the left yet that starts the next pitch. Gear belay in the floor of the block. I concur this is probably more of a 5.10b-c pitch than 5.10a.
6th-7th Pitches- 120’- 5.10b/ We combined these pitches to the base of the final wide pitch. Move out left and climb the seam up to intermittent thin seam above (left crack). The intermittent seam is the crux of the route but in contrast to beta on mountain project protects fairly well via micro and off-set cams. Really did not need rps. In the middle of the seam, your feet all but disappear for a crux move, then you get hands on a flake and lay back a move and the climbing eases all the way up to below the large roof above. Traverse left via finger pockets crossing the arete and set up a semi-hanging gear belay below the wide crack above. This is an off-width crack more than a “big chimney” as the guide suggests.
8th Pitch- 100’- 5.7/ Most everyone who had signed in on Mountain Project bailed below this pitch. Some intimidated at the wideness with other excuses thrown about as well. This pitch has as much character as any pitch on the route and if you do not climb it and furthermore tag the summit of the tower, you did not climb the route. Climb the crack via off-width technique. I believe my partner placed the #3 as part of his belay at the base of this pitch thus I did not have anything larger than #2 and felt fine with the pro. Therefore, if you are comfortable at off-width, you will be fine without hauling a C4#3 on the route. It is not needed at any of the cruxes. You will find a few horizontals for pro before you pull the chock-stone above. As it widens, start chimney technique and maybe finish with a stem move or two. Pull out of the right side of the chock-stone and finish to the top shoulder of the spire passing a slung rap on the edge. I will concur this is more 5.8/9 wide climbing than 5.7 at least at the start.
Un-rope and scramble 3rd or 4th class to the summit in a few short minutes.