Steven Song's Peak-bagging Journey

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Cirque Peak

Coming back to Canada after winning gold medal in IChO, Turkey, I decided to do some scrambling and hiking which I had been thinking about since last summer. Cirque Peak was my first objective, located in Icefield Parkway Area, Banff National Park. I did have some experience of scrambling on The Black Tusk in 2009, but this was the first time I summitted a scrambler’s peak. Also, this was the first trip after IChO, as well as the intense studies in Grade 12. I hadn’t been hiking since last September. Although the difficulty of Cirque Peak is only “easy”, the lack of experience and lack of exercising made things harder. At that time, I still had trouble slogging up scree slope.

The trail head is located 33.2km north of Highway 1 on the Icefield Parkway. It's the same as Helen Lake / Dolomite Pass trailhead, so not surprisingly, there were already many cars by the time we arrived. The initial part went by slowly and I had to catch my breathe regularly on steeper sections. Not far up, we were treated with the view of Crowfoot Mountain and Bow Peak. Further up, the trail enters alpine meadow terrain and we followed this highway to Helen Lake. There were at least 5 marmots bagging for food. I guess they're already food conditioned... I hope tourists don't feed bears though... We took a break at the lake while soaking in the views.

Passing the lake, the trail rises steeply up a headwall. By the time of July 2011, I was more of a hiker than scrambler so I felt this part was a bit exposed and I had to move carefully not to slip. The correct ascend line to Cirque Peak skirts around the base of the obvious cliff bands but we had to ascend the cliff bands due to snow patches lingering on the east side of the slope. Thankfully the cliff bands are well cairned and easy to negotiate. After that, it's mainly a scree slog up. Initially the scree is firm but the higher you go, the looser the ground is. I wasn't very comfortable on loose ground and I was pretty scared near the top. A short hands-on section led me to the false summit. I waited for 15min on the false summit for dad to show up. Despite this false summit is lower, it has better view than the true summit. We got head-on view towards Bow Lake and Wapta Icefield. This was my first time seeing the Wapta, and I was amazed. I couldn't believe I actually stood on top of the high peak, Mount Gordon, 9 months later. We carefully made our way towards the true summit, mainly butt-shuffling. From the true summit, we got good view of the 3 summits of Willingdon.

We stayed on the summit for about half an hour, and slowly moved down the loose slope. We didn't linger around the trail long as there were more and more tourists coming in afternoon. The weather also cleared up quite a bit by the time we got back to Helen Lake. I could feel blisters on my feet by this time. The hike back to car felt much longer and we stopped at Bow Lake for photos after finishing the trip.

Slideshow
Cirque Peak and an unnamed tarn
1
Cirque Peak and an unnamed tarn
60 views
 
Sunrise near Calgary
2
Sunrise near Calgary
34 views
 
Crowfoot Pass
3
Crowfoot Pass
36 views
 
Crowfoot Mountain and Glacier
4
Crowfoot Mountain and Glacier
39 views
 
Bow Peak
5
Bow Peak
42 views
 
Cross this stream
6
Cross this stream
27 views
 
Crystal Ridge
7
Crystal Ridge
34 views
 
A marmot
8
A marmot
31 views
 
Helen Lake & Cirque Peak
9
Helen Lake & Cirque Peak
46 views
 
Crystal Ridge
10
Crystal Ridge
23 views
 
Cirque Peak
11
Cirque Peak
36 views
 
A marmot
12
A marmot
35 views
 
Helen Lake, Cirque Peak
13
Helen Lake, Cirque Peak
23 views
 
A marmot
14
A marmot
27 views
 
Helen Lake
15
Helen Lake
23 views
 
Cirque Peak
16
Cirque Peak
41 views
 
an unnamed tarn
17
an unnamed tarn
33 views
 
Me with Dolomite Peak in the background
18
Me with Dolomite Peak in the backgro…
38 views
 
Dad, with the unnamed tarn below him
19
Dad, with the unnamed tarn below him
36 views
 
Watermelon Peak and the unnamed tarn
20
Watermelon Peak and the unnamed tarn
39 views
 
Cirque Peak from the shoulder
21
Cirque Peak from the shoulder
40 views
 
22
26 views
 
Hands on near the top
23
Hands on near the top
35 views
 
24
39 views
 
On the false summit
25
On the false summit
45 views
 
The true summit
26
The true summit
43 views
 
Bow Lake and Wapta Icefield
27
Bow Lake and Wapta Icefield
51 views
 
Wapta Icefield
28
Wapta Icefield
39 views
 
Looking far SW
29
Looking far SW
50 views
 
30
34 views
 
Looking NE
31
Looking NE
28 views
 
Dolomite Peak
32
Dolomite Peak
37 views
 
Me on true summit
33
Me on true summit
104 views
 
Me on true summit
34
Me on true summit
38 views
 
looking E from true summit
35
looking E from true summit
49 views
 
36
27 views
 
Sky clears a bit
37
Sky clears a bit
34 views
 
Dolomite Peak
38
Dolomite Peak
33 views
 
Watermelon Peak
39
Watermelon Peak
31 views
 
Cirque Peak
40
Cirque Peak
37 views
 
The unnamed tarn
41
The unnamed tarn
35 views
 
Helen Lake and area
42
Helen Lake and area
41 views
 
Mt. Hector
43
Mt. Hector
34 views
 
Dolomite Peak
44
Dolomite Peak
43 views
 
Photos taken by Steven