Cirque Peak

Featured photo of Cirque Peak

Cirque Peak is located on the northeast side of the Columbia Icefield Parkway in Banff National Park, one of four connecting national parks located in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, between Dolomite Peaks and Observation Peak. Cirque Peak was officially named in 1909 because of a large cirque that lies below its northern cliffs including a small glacier and bergschrund. Cirque Peak was first ascended in 1899 by Nichols, Noyes, Thompson and Weeks.

There are two published routes. One is a scramble and the other is a ski ascent, both using similar approaches. The true summit is divided by a notch from the ridge and is the crux of this climb, particularly in the winter.   Like all of its brethren on the east side of the Icefield Parkway, Cirque Peak offers grand views of ice to the west including the Wapta Icefield peaks, Crowfoot Mountain and its hanging glacier.

Getting There- The Trans-Canada Highway dissects Banff National Park east to west as you come in from Calgary. Continue past the Banff and Sunshine Ski Resort exits to Lake Louise. Exit onto the Columbia Icefield Parkway. Drive 33kms north from the park kiosk (forced stop to check park driving permit which you should already have). Pull out to the right in the Dolomite Pass-Helen Lake Trail head across from the Crowfoot Glacier view point. I have encountered a black bear crossing the Parkway at Mosquito Creek. This road is probably the most wildlife viewed road in all of North America.  I have witnessed Moose cross the road as well in this area. I advise following the speed limit for that reason.

Red Tape- You will be required to purchase a national park pass as you enter the park. This pass is good for all four national parks. If you plan many visits to Canadian National Parks within one year, you should purchase an annual pass. There are no permit requirements to climb in Banff National Park, but all camping is regulated. There is also a backcountry permit required if you plan on spending a night in the backcountry versus the town campsites. This can be obtained via the parks website which is included in the camping section below. Park headquarters are located in Banff and you will drive through the manned kiosks as you enter the park. This is active grizzly country, therefore, you should always have bear spray on your person during non-hibernation months. I advise checking with Parks Canada for any area and/or trail closures.

When To Climb- As with most scrambles in the Canadian Rockies, the driest time is from June through September. I climbed Cirque Peak in September and the route had considerable snow at the higher elevations.  There is a published ski mountaineering route up Cirque Peak for the winter months. I did the ski route in February.

Camping- The closest camping is located back south a few kilometers at Mosquito Creek Camground located on the west side off of the Columbia Icefields Parkway. You can go on line at Banff National Park to pick your camp site and obtain your camping permit. You will also be required to obtain your backcountry permit, if you are going to use a backcountry site, which is separate, but can be obtained simultaneously.

Mountain Conditions-The National Park website has weather, wildlife reports, trail closures, etc. Outsideof the parks web site, Canadian Avalanche Association is also useful, particularlyfor winter travel. Canadian Alpine Accident Reports is also extremely relevant.

Detailed route beta and photos can be found at DowClimbing.Com

Elevation (feet): 9,819
Elevation (meters): 2,993
Continent: North America
Country: Canada
Range/Region: Canadian Rockies
Province: Alberta
Latitude: 51.7
Longitude: -116.418
Difficulty: Scramble
Year first climbed: 1899
First successful climber(s): Nichols, Noyes, Thompson and Weeks
Nearest major airport: Calgary
Convenient Center: Lake Louise

Thanks to David & Karen for adding this peak.

Trip Reports

NOTE: Trip reports were previously called "Summit Logs" - same feature, new name

There are 13 trip reports for Cirque Peak.

Select any entry from the list below:

  • Log #21514 - by darshan Mayginnes on Nov 18, 2008
    My Beloved climbing partner Julia Carrera and I started this climb early in the morning and soon had vistas of many peaks. As we were going up the final scree slope near the summit Julia stoped and...
  • Log #21459 - by Dr Jeffrey S Meral on Oct 01, 2008
    Good one day peak. My first. Slipped alot on rocks near top. Great time other then the sunburn.
  • Log #21457 - by Ryan Meral on Sep 30, 2008
    My first true Scramble. Upon reaching Helen Lake and going over Dolomite Pass, we navigated easily some boulders and came onto a path. The path disappeared on and off, but there is no need for a path...
  • Log #21430 - by Aristos Grigoriadis on Sep 09, 2008
    Beautiful peak. Not technical but quite isolated (at least for a European).
  • Log #20879 - by Tyler on July 16, 2007
    We arrived in the afternoon on a Sunday, and it was not very busy at all. A very nice time of year, as all the wildflowers were blooming, and there was very little snow. We took our time, and on our...
  • Log #19458 - by Michael on Sep 27, 2006
    This is the fourth time for me on this peak. because of is higher elevation and proximity to icefields the weather can be unpridictalbe and I was caught in a blizzard/icestorm at around the 8800 foot...
  • Log #19087 - by Dow Williams on Feb 14, 2006
    Have skied and scrambled the mountain (slightly different routes), recommend the ski.
  • Log #15630 - by Geoff Ruttan on May 03, 2004
    This peak is doable as a summer scramble, but why walk down when you can ski down. The skin up is very straight forward. Once above treeline just watch to make sure you choose the right route up onto...
  • Log #15625 - by Michael L on May 21, 2003
    This is an easy ascent. Everyone should try it.
  • Log #15626 - by Tim L. Helmer on Dec 24, 2002
    To say this peak is great, is great; but awesome is more appropriate. The peak it's self offers nothing to trill you, but to describe the scenery as spectacular would be to diminish it. Especially...
  • Log #15627 - by Craig Knelsen on July 02, 2002
    As I left the forest behind above treeline, a marmot was sunning itself on a rock. He/she patiently waited while I got out my camera to take its picture. I took the more direct approach to the top,...
  • Log #15628 - by Clifford Work on Nov 24, 2001
    It's an easy and beautiful hike.
  • Log #15629 - by Paul Zizka on Jan 05, 2001
    A very easy ascent, involving easy scrambling just below the summit. Great trail leads to the base from highway 93. Nice views of the Wapta icefields summits, Dolomite Peak and Mount Temple on a...