Cirque Peak

Climbed: July 1994
Elevation: 2993 m = 9,817'
Elev. gain: 1050 m = 3,444'
Ascent time:4 hours
Difficulty: Strenuous hiking to easy scrambling up S slopes.
Location: Jasper NP
Trail head: Crowfield Glacier viewpoint on the Icefields Parkway.
Topo map: 82 N/9 Hector Lake

Follow the Helen Lake-Dolomite Pass trail described in the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide.The trail ascends moderately, but steadily through subalpine forest for the first few km.I came across a marmot (see photo) sunning itself on a rock beside the trail. He didn't seemto mind posing for pictures. After 3 km, you break out of forest cover into open terrain. Fromthis point, you can look back at the Crowfield glacier from a higher vantage point than thatoffered by the highway turnoff.

Cirque PeakAs you make your way up the southeast end of the Cirque Peak ridge, Cirque Peak comes intofull view. This initial impression seems to indicate a strenuous but relatively easy hikeup to the top. The last few kilometers to Helen Lake pass by a recent rockslide and fewertrees indicating tree line had been reached in the area. You also get some nice views ofDolomite Peak (2998m/9833'), a difficult scramble.

cliffband from Helen LakeOnce you reach Helen Lake, you have a couple of options on how to tackle the lower slopes ofCirque Peak. The first edition of Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies suggested traversingto the left of the rocky outcrop to reach talus slopes. I however was feeling more adventurousand decided to tackle the rocky outcrop head on. There are plentiful hand holds and the rockis firm for the most part. The second edition now suggests following Dolomite Pass trail aroundto the right of the outcrop to find a suitable path to the shoulder. This however providesfewer challenges.

East SummitWhichever way you get to the shoulder, now its just a slog up scree slopes. As you nearthe top, a minor rockband is easily tackled. The true East summit is actually about 15 minutesfurther along the summit ridge. A little more care is needed here but there are no difficulties.For your extra effort, you can record your ascent in the summit register.

Dolomite PeakFrom the summit, you can see Dolomite Peak (2998m/9833') to the southeast, just 5 meters higherthan your current viewpoint, albeit a much more difficult endeavor.

From the summit, you can see the glaciated Wapta Icefields to the west and ice coveredMt. Hector to the southeast.

summit view 1summit view 2

summit view 3

descent routeFrom the summit, you can view down along the descent route to Helen Lake 1800' below. Theadvantage to all that scree on the way up is that it makes for a very quick descent. Idecided to bypass the rocky outcrop and traversed right to reach talus slopes leading downto Helen Lake. While a fair number of hikers reached Helen Lake, I was the only one whomade the ascent up Cirque Peak that day.

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©1994 All images by Craig Knelsen. All rights reserved.

Created: Mar 22, 1998.  Revised: Nov 11, 2002.