The popular hike to Helen Lake can be extended with this straightforward scramble to the peak overhead.


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FATMAP difficulty grade



Cirque Peak is the often-photographed mountain above Helen Lake.

The lake is a popular destination, and the peak beckoning beyond gets a fair amount of traffic as well.

It makes an excellent introductory scramble, or a quick check off the list for the seasoned peak bagger.

Cirque Peak is called a scramble because you’ll likely use your hands in a few places, but for the most part, it is simply a hike.

It becomes steep shortly after passing Helen Lake, when climbing the headwall.

If you follow the standard hiker path up the headwall, it’s nothing more than a steep trail.

If you take a more direct route, however, you’ll scramble through some low ledges.

Once on top of the headwall, the route more or less follows the obvious ridge of Cirque Peak.

The surface is mostly loose-ish scree, with a discernibly worn path for much of the way.

Just below the summit is a short scramble with mild exposure, but it’s not difficult.

Once on top, you’ll enjoy massive views over the basin you just ascended, as well as the Bow River Valley and more peaks all around. Sources: