Via Cirque’s south ridge and Katherine Lake exit. This tour has a lot to offer – skiing, scree, rappelling, glacier travel, and a fun couloir! The Katherine Lake exit is longer, but allows you to return to the start without needing a second vehicle.
Park along Highway 93N, in a pull-out just past the Helen Creek bridge.
The route begins out of the parking area up Helen Creek. After a short skin up the long, SE shoulder of Cirque Peak out of the parking area, the route drops back down across Helen Creek. Cirque Peak in the background on the right.
Once you break above the treeline, work your way onto the ridge above Katherine Lake (a relatively safe approach to Cirque Peak proper). Approximate route up Cirque Peak in red, with the return route marked by an arrow.
A closeup of Cirque’s shoulder with our selected route. This face of Cirque Peak is usually pretty wind-scoured, with a large cornice overhanging the east side.
Boot-packing the final 100-200 meters up the ridge with the summit in view.
Just below the summit block, traverse right below the cliffs doing your best to avoid the steep and exposed drop-off.
Reaching the north-facing couloir off Cirque Peak. Rappel anchors on left. The first 50m of the couloir is steep (45-50 degrees) and icy, so it’s best to side-slip down with a rappel to assist. Once below the rocks, the ski quality improves dramatically and you get a nice 200m run down onto the glacier below on a 35-40 degree slope. Note that there is a large crevasse directly in the centre of the glacier that can be avoided by trending right at the bottom of the couloir.
Skiing the lower slopes of the Cirque Glacier. We lapped this glacier twice due to me losing a ski (doh!) and the great ski quality. Hug the cliffs east of Cirque Peak and wrap around until you reach Dolomite Pass, which will bring you back to Katherine Lake and your original starting location.
Sun shining on the Dolomite Circuit. Great day out! Exit is off to the right to meet up with our skin-track on the ridge above Katherine Lake.
GPS route shown above in blue. Optional exit marked in red which will take you down beside Observation Subpeak towards Bow Lake, if you have a second vehicle.
Times and distances are round-trip, and include the second lap on Cirque’s north glacier.