Cirque Peak

Elevation: 2993 m
Elevation Gain: 1000 m
Named in 1909 for the large cirque that lies at the base of its northern cliffs. Cirque Peak was first ascended before it had a name by H.P. Nichols, C.L. Noyes, C.S. Thompson, G.M. Weeks in 1899.
My Ascents:
August 19 2012, August 28 2011, July 16 2011, July 17 2010, August 3 2009, August 30 2008

I always love bringing people with limited scrambling experience up Cirque Peak. The scramble is totally non-technical and unlikely to scare anyone off while the summit view is so breath-taking that it provides a genuine sense of accomplishment. Most who summit Cirque catch the scrambling bug and go on to summit bigger (although not often better) things. Frankly, I always enjoy having an excuse to make another trip up Cirque as well!
So, when my best friend Chris finally bagged his first two peaks (Ha Ling and Mount St. Piran) without me earlier this season, I couldn’t wait to take him up Cirque. By late August, he was confident enough to want to tag along for an afternoon (scrambling with me isn’t that intimidating, is it?). As always, I can’t bag this peak without inviting my parents (I would never hear the end of it from my mom) so the Hobbs clan + Chris set out under blue bird skies to take yet another run at my old friend Cirque!

The standard bear siting along the Icefields Parkway near Bow Lake. Better to see them from the car than along the trail, right?

Wildflower season en route to Helen Lake; Mount Hector basks under the late August sun beyond.

Helen Lake’s pretty outlet stream.

Cirque Peak behind crystal-clear Helen Lake.

Dolomite Pass beyond a vibrant tarn.

Spectacular views the whole way above Helen Lake provide inspiration whenever it might be required.

The views improve at the same rate as the quality of the rock deteriorates near the summit. Here my mom employs her patented four-wheel drive technique!

Chris makes it look a little easier – for now! Helen Lake rapidly disappearing below him

On this day, I would get to play guide to more than just Chris. We came across a whole group of hikers too scared to go on just shy of the summit so I started shuttling them up the last bit one at a time. It made for a crowded summit but was worth it to see all of the smiles

Chris enjoying the chance to finally use his hands just below the summit.

The summit view that makes this one worth repeating over and over! Bow Glacier spills down from the Wapta Icefield, draining first into upper Bow Lake, and then into Bow Lake. Upper Bow Lake and the Bow Glacier.

Upper Bow Lake.

Mount Mummery over the icefields.

The Crowfoot Glacier in front of glacier-capped Mount Balfour.

My first summit with Chris!

Mount Willingdon to the east.

Staying put. She would NOT budge from her perch.

The Dolomites and Mount Hector provide spectacular highlights.

Big and Little Hector.

I couldn’t believe how spectacularly clear it was: Assiniboine was visible from over 100 km away!

Storm Mountain and Mount Ball guard Kootenay National Park in the distance.

What's our first scramble together without posting an embarassing photo? Chris ♥ pie. I shouldn't make fun - he actually baked and brought enough pie for all of us!

Lake Louise Giants (all over 11,000 feet): Deltaform, Lefroy, Hungabee and Victoria.

Speaking of Giants: the Goodsir Towers. Only Assiniboine is taller in the southern Canadian Rockies.

Looking north to Peyto Lake and Observation Peak.

Pyramidal Mount Chephren to the north. A snowy Mount Amery in the distance.

Group summit shot.

Season summit tally:
Matt: 36
Chris: 3
=P

My mom always makes it up Cirque, stresses about getting down the whole time she’s on top and then rants about how awesome it was once she’s down. Even this couldn’t alleviate her worries about the forthcoming descent!

I guess she has a point...it is a LONG way down!

Epic summit shot for Chris.

Trying his hand at scree-skiing. Based on the look on his face, I’d say he’s mastered it!

Spectacular views of 11,000ers Mount Hector and a very distant Mount Assiniboine on descent.

Bow Peak beyond a colorful tarn. Assiniboine, Storm and Ball down the valley in the distance.

Chris being as anal retentive as he is, decided to stop at the tarn to wash dust off his legs and ski poles.

I promised Chris hundreds of marmots based on past experiences on Cirque Peak, however, we went most of the day without seeing any (a first for me)! I guess we were a couple weeks later than usual and the lazy creatures had already started to burrow and hibernate. I did manage to find this one hidden between 2 rocks…he hissed when I tried to get a photo.

And I thought the hissing marmot was scary - look at that tan line!

Last views of Cirque in the fading light before a long trek down through the woods.

Okay, this animal proved much scarier than the hissing marmot! While Chris and I waited for my parents in the woods below Helen Lake, this hungry customer wandered across the path and proceeded to ignore us at close range. In all of my years scrambling, this is still the first time that I’ve had a close encounter with a bear! Luckily he didn’t seem to give a damn about us. After letting my parents catch up, we all cautiously proceeded (with bear spray armed) together the rest of the way. Once we got down, we realized that we were as famished as the bear had been and quickly made plans to do some foraging of our own (if only beer grew on mountain slope-sides)!