Helen Lake/Cirque Peak* (Banff)


Date: July 23, 2017

Location: Icefield Parkway, Banff NP

Distance: 11 miles RT

Elevation Gain: 3400 feet

Highest Elevation: 9800 feet

I don’t get to hike with my daughter Samantha often, but when we do, they have been epic journey – add this one to the book.  Above, Crowfoot glacier from the TH parking lot.

First 2 miles were canopied climbing.  It was a modest price of admission to the constant alpine views that were to follow.  Below, Crowfoot Glacier and Hector Lake from higher elevation.


First clear look at Cirque Peak above, and Helen Lake reached at mile 4.

The lake attracted a good crowd, and host a friendly marmot.

We proceeded upward through the meadows to a ridge on south flank of the peak.

Above, looking back at Helen Lake on the way to the ridge.  Below, on the ridge looking east towards Katherine Lake and Dolomite Pass.  The two lakes, Helen and Katherine, was named after the daughters of Rev. Nichols who was with a party of mountaineers that crossed this area in late 1800’s.

Our sights were on the Cirque Peak – a 1600 feet vertical gain over ? 1/2 mile.

There are no define trail to the summit.  We somehow scrambled onto a scary yet breathtaking ledge before getting back on track.

1/2 way up, we had the first glimpse of Bow Lake sitting low in the valley below the expansive Bow Glacier.  Below, Helen Lake, right, was becoming insignificant.

The weather was mercurial that day – mostly cloudy with wind gusts, intermittent rain, even a brief hail, and scattered sunshine throughout the ascent and descent.

Above, Bow Lake now fully revealed.  Below, looking longingly at the Summit, and a marmot who was tramping up and down as if to tease tired hikers about our physical limitation.


A fellow hiker and Samantha enjoyed a respite on top.

Samantha started her descent.


Uncertain if I will ever see such a beautiful alpine vista again, I began my descent reluctantly.

Another marmot refused posing for me.

The sun came out accompanying us downhill most of the way.