Cirque Peak II – March 16, 2008

Mountain height:         2993 m
Elevation gain:            1100 m
Ascent time:                5:35
Descent time:              3:05

Snowshoeing and scrambling with Mark.

I first completed an ascent of Cirque Peak in the summer of 2003. It was (and continues to be) one of the most scenic hikes I’ve ever done, and so a repeat trip was in order. We hoped a winter ascent would make for equally gratifying scenery and views as granted in a summer ascent – we weren’t disappointed!

We left the parking lot at a rather late 10 am, hoping that the afternoon clearing trend in the weather forecast was accurate. It was and we spent most of the day with blue skies above (though the Wapta Icefield immediately west remained fairly cloudy). Once out of the trees, the scenery was absolutely stunning: kilometres of untouched snow surrounded by shapely and striking peaks - as pristine as pristine gets!

Instead of taking the route suggested in Chic Scott’s guidebook, we took a more direct route towards Helen Lake. In fact, the route turned out to be slightly more circuitous, but provided a wonderful, alternate perspective of the impeccable surroundings.

Out of the trees

Having spent most of the ascent in warm and windless conditions, we completed the final 400 vertical metres in brutally cold weather, due to a very strong west wind. The summit view was, of course, spectacular, even with less than perfect conditions to the west. Though a long summit stay was warranted, our frozen hands and feet strongly objected and we made a mad dash for lower ground and warmer temperatures.

Once back down to the ridge above Helen Lake, we opted to stay on the ridge and take Scott’s route in reverse. This route had the advantage of staying at a higher elevation for longer, yielding yet more fantastic views. An outstanding day in an unbeatable area.        



 Miles and miles of white


Approaching Helen Lake; Bow Peak to the left  


Same as above 


Heading up to the ridge above Helen Lake


Same as above 


 Looking back to Helen lake and unnamed peaks to the southwest


 Mark below the ridge, with Cirque Peak behind


 Almost at the ridge


 Finally there


A west facing panorama from the ridge

The north peak of Crowfoot Mountain becomes visible

 Mark on the ridge


Checking out a great view of Dolomite Peak from the highpoint of the rigde 


Mount Hector


 Starting up towards Cirque Peak 


 The scenic slog begins


 On the gentle slopes to the summit


Dolomite Peak


 More slogging 


Mark battles fierce winds as he approaches the false summit


Heading down to the col between the false and true summit


At the col


Mark at the true summit


The view to the west


The view to the south


Looking back to the summit block


 Heading home


A last look at Dolomite and Hector