Route Guide    Partners    Forum    Photos    What's New    Journal        
Sign Up  |   Log In:Login with Facebook
REI Community
The Cirque of the Unclimbables

Select Area...
Bustle Tower 
East Huey Spire 
Lotus Flower Tower 
Terrace Tower 

The Cirque of the Unclimbables Rock Climbing 


Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Location: 61.9939, -127.5235 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 55,596
Administrator: Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Jay Knower on Jan 7, 2007  with updates from James Dudley
Forecast:
Saturday

-16° | -27°
Sunday

-4° | -18°
Monday

-2° | -9°
Tuesday

3° | -10°
Wednesday

-2° | -7°
Thursday

9° | -8°
You & This Area
Best climbs for YOU in this area
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [1 person likes this page.]
Lotus Flower Tower with a dusting of fresh snow - ...

Description 

The Cirque of the Unclimbables offers amazing granite rock climbing in a remote, beautiful setting. Found in Nahanni Provincial Park just over the western border of the Northwest Territories, the Cirque is pretty out there. No roads lead to within a hundred miles of the Cirque.

Often likened to the Bugaboos but without all of the snow and harder to get to, the Cirque holds many spires and walls. Most are suitable for climbing, but Lotus Flower Tower and Mount Proboscis stand out as gems. Mid-to-late summer offers the best climbing weather and also offers up to 20 hours of daylight because of the Cirque's northern geography.

Fairy Meadows, the traditional basecamp for all routes in the Cirque except the more remote Mount Proboscis, is a magical, lush, well, meadow. Granite boulders, some house-sized, dot the meadow and present rainy-day bouldering opportunities and shelter for tents. Most objectives in the area are a one-hour walk from the meadow. However, those who plan on climbing Mount Proboscis should plan on a much more involved approach from the meadow, one that takes a number of hours and involves a climb through What Notch, as Proboscis actually lies in a subsidiary cirque.

George Bell's excellent and informative site answers most questions about the area: gibell.net/cirque/

Getting There 

This is the hard and expensive part. Unless you are masochistic, it is necessary to charter a float plane to fly you into the Cirque. Warren Lafave's company, Kluane Airways is the primary service for the Cirque. He owns the Inconnu Lodge, a very high-end fishing resort, so those who chose to fly with Kluane often are treated to food and lodging at this up-scale establishment. Warren usually stashes a sat phone in the Cirque in order to coordinate trips back to civilization. More info can be found at: kluaneairways.com/unclimbables...

We drove to Finlayson Lake, which is about two hours north of Watson Lake in the Yukon Territories. From here, a float plane picked us up and flew us to Glacier Lake, the major drop-off point for the Cirque. From Glacier Lake, expect a long slog up interminable talus to Fairy Meadows. So, from the lake, follow a meandering trail generally west until you hit the talus at the base of Mount Harrison Smith, a mile-high hunk of bad granite. Take a hard right and follow the talus generally north until you hit Fairy Meadows. It took us a solid half-day to get from the lake to the meadow.

It is also possible, though more expensive, to charter a helicopter to drop you off at Fairy Meadows, thereby bypassing the talus slog. If I ever go back, I am definitely getting the helicopter. After negotiating the talus a few times while shuttling loads, I came to the conclusion that the helicopter is absolutely worth the extra cost.

Climbing Season

For the Canada area.

Weather station 38.6 miles from here

5 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',2],['3 Stars',3],['2 Stars',0],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]
['<=5.6',0],['5.7',0],['5.8',0],['5.9',1],['5.10',1],['5.11',2],['5.12',1],['5.13',0],['>=5.14',0],['',0],['<=V1',0],['V2-3',0],['V4-5',0],['V6-7',0],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in The Cirque of the Unclimbables

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for The Cirque of the Unclimbables:
West Ridge    5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, Alpine, 4 pitches   East Huey Spire
Southeast Face   5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, Alpine, 18 pitches, 2000'   Lotus Flower Tower
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in The Cirque of the Unclimbables

Featured Route For The Cirque of the Unclimbables
Rock Climbing Photo: Climbing pitch 11 above the big ledge. The amazing...

Southeast Face 5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c  North America : Canada : ... : Lotus Flower Tower
The best rock climb in the world? Most routes to which this moniker is added may seem insignificant compared to the SE Face of Lotus Flower Tower. The route climbs perfect alpine granite for 18 pitches to an amazing summit.The climb is all about uniformity. The first three pitches climb a well-defined left facing corner. The next five or six pitches climb a long chimney. Then, the fun starts. After a short left facing corner, the last ten pitches or so climb cracks and knobs on the exposed and n...[more]   Browse More Classics in International

Photos of The Cirque of the Unclimbables Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Davis Barnett feels some earned exposure with the ...
Davis Barnett feels some earned exposure with the ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Sun through the clouds in the Cirque of the Unclim...
Sun through the clouds in the Cirque of the Unclim...
Rock Climbing Photo: cragging at Fairy Meadows on "the Penguin&quo...
cragging at Fairy Meadows on "the Penguin&quo...
Rock Climbing Photo: Bouldering in Fairy Meadow.  Lotus Flower Tower in...
Bouldering in Fairy Meadow. Lotus Flower Tower in...
Rock Climbing Photo: The Cirque.  Mt Proboscis is on the left, Lotus Fl...
The Cirque. Mt Proboscis is on the left, Lotus Fl...
Rock Climbing Photo: the Lotus and the Parrot Beak
the Lotus and the Parrot Beak
Rock Climbing Photo: Peter and Deaun smokin' cigars after a another gou...
Peter and Deaun smokin' cigars after a another gou...
Rock Climbing Photo: A wilderness bigwall at it's finest - the Southeas...
A wilderness bigwall at it's finest - the Southeas...
Rock Climbing Photo: Mt Proboscis (on the left) from Fairy Meadow.
Mt Proboscis (on the left) from Fairy Meadow.
Rock Climbing Photo: Terrance Tower with Mt Proboscis in the distance
Terrance Tower with Mt Proboscis in the distance
Rock Climbing Photo: Lotus Flower from Ferry Meadows
Lotus Flower from Ferry Meadows
Rock Climbing Photo: the express elevator
the express elevator
Rock Climbing Photo: The Cirque from the air.  Lotus Flower Tower is vi...
The Cirque from the air. Lotus Flower Tower is vi...
Rock Climbing Photo: Dave Barnett takes a voyage over the sea of chicke...
Dave Barnett takes a voyage over the sea of chicke...
Rock Climbing Photo: Terrace Tower.
Terrace Tower.
Rock Climbing Photo: back and forth for 800' on the 'ski tracks'.. with...
back and forth for 800' on the 'ski tracks'.. with...
Rock Climbing Photo: Lotus Flower Tower and Parrot Beak Peak
Lotus Flower Tower and Parrot Beak Peak
Rock Climbing Photo: David Russell on a beautiful highball splitter in ...
David Russell on a beautiful highball splitter in ...

Comments on The Cirque of the Unclimbables Add Comment
Show which comments
By RMT
Jul 23, 2014
If you plan on using a heli for the ride up to Fairy Meadows you can avoid the float plane legs to and from the Innocu Lodge by taking a heli from Tundra Helicopters directly from the town of Watson Lake to Fairy Meadows. It's faster and a little cheaper (at least with 4 people) than the float plane/heli combo. Contact Steve Harrison at tundrahelicopters@hotmail.com / 867) 536-4644
By George Bell
From: Boulder, CO
Oct 12, 2015
My guide is now at:
gibell.net/cirque/