Cirque Peak

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Cirque Peak
  • Location: Banff National Park (Icefields Parkway)
  • Activity: Ski Touring
  • Height: 2,993 m (9,820 ft)
  • Elevation Gain: 1,300 m (4,265 ft)
  • Distance: 18.4 km / Round Trip (11.4 mi)
  • Avg Steepness: 8.0°
  • Estimated Time: 8-11 hrs
  • Technicality: Intermediate
  • Fitness Level: Hard
Cirque Peak supposed to be one of the most scenic peaks but to me it was one of the most miserable peaks I have done. Nothing to do with Cirque but everything else went wrong way…

Well where to start. First my route was already wrong. I picked summer hiking route instead of ski touring route described in Alpine Ski Touring book by Chic Scott… I don’t know why I didn’t take a look… My route didn’t give much advantage using skis instead it only drained my energy dragging heavy skis and boots. With this route lighter snowshoes would have been far better choice. Secondly I was suppose to leave city by 7 at latest, but Wil decided to join me at 6 in the morning we left city at 8:15. He brought snowshoes and since he already done this peak he wasn’t going to summit it, so we decided to go separately but that was a bad choice for many reasons. Weather wise it was flurries and didn’t get clear view to enjoy fantastic scenery. The last 400 m to the summit was like -25 + non-stop wind 30 to 40 km… At last, It got dark I had to use headlamp and I didn’t want to follow hiking trail which had ups and downs, instead I chose to bushwhack to the highway. It took me 9.5 hours… One of these days.

My route is slightly different from actual Helen Lake trail since it was snow covered and also I tried to avoid avalanche terrains. Route is very easy as Kane says “virtually foolproof”. Ridge to the summit gets steeper near the top but still it’s only 35 degree or so. Summit is little bit exposed for peak rated as easy, so if you are afraid of height, don’t go near edge. The white line is approximate route described in Alpine Ski Tours by Scott.

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The best weather we had was at the parking lot.

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Snow was perfect that breaking trail wasn't too hard.

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At the top of Crystal Ridge's east shoulder where trail makes U-turn. Dolomite Peak looks more like stegosaurs. See head on the left and back and tail. Even contrast between snow and tree makes it like legs.

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Snow world and my objective Cirque Peak is still far…

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I want to do whole traverse of Crystal Ridge even to Cirque in summer time.

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Lone trail.

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Near Ridge summit. There was trace of an old big avalanche east slope which is Kane's scramble route.

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I don't like these hills. Not too steep and doesn't change angle too much. Normally I feel I am not getting any closer to the peak no matter how high I go up. It's like optical illusion.

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Where is the awesome view people talk about?

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Least I finished it up. There has been so many -20 or colder days in mountains this winter, but this one must have been the coldest ever, however thanks to the cold days, I didn't feel that cold. If this was last winter, I would have turned around.


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