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Cirrus Mountain

Difficulty: 
Moderate Winter Scramble
Elevation [m]: 
3261
Round Trip Distance [km]: 
19.9
Net Elevation Gain [m]: 
1652
Total Elevation Gain [m]: 
2140
Ascent Time: 
9:15
Bushwhackyness: 
Not Bad
Tripdate: 
Saturday, May 31, 2014

As usual for this time of year, the variable weather made for many objectives being tossed around and waiting until the last minute for plans to crystalize. This weeks plan was to head up Cirrus Mountain, a nice looking prominent peak that towers over the Big Bend on HWY 93. From other beta we had heard that it is normally a good call to tackle Cirrus as a two day trip bivying in the Whitegoat Wilderness at the head of Huntington Creek.

Parking at a pullout on the side of HWY 93 we followed the climbers left of the roaring creek very quickly gaining elevation amongst low/moderate density bush. Elevation gain was swift and soon enough we were above treeline and getting great views across the valley of Saskatchewan and Amery. Soon after we reached the first (seemingly unnamed) lake and even shortly after Coleman Lake. Countouring around the climbers left of the lake on scree and snow quickly brought us up to the pass (which is also the Banff/Whitegoat boundary). Once at the pass we could look down and survey possible bivy sites. Eventually we chose a nice patch of dry rock and bush at the northern headwaters of Huntington Creek and set up camp.

Given the early hour of the day and great snow stability we decided to take advantage of good conditions and go for the summit that afternoon. After a brief break for guzzling some water and grub we tossed on the 'shoes and started on up. Our route tried to avoid crossing the small glacier on Cirrus and ascended from the camp to the left of the prominent rock fin (see image below) before 'shoeing up a steep slope to gain the summit ridge. From the ridge there were a couple snow on rock steps and steep snow slopes that made crampons and an axe essential. The final few meters before the summit were nicely kick-step-able leading to a decently broad summit and fabulous views. All of the distant giants such as Columbia, and The Lyells were in view along with lesser known peaks now on our radar such as Obstruction Mountain. Our descent followed the same line back to camp for some well deserved diner and a good rest.

Heading back down to the road the next morning was a leisurely affair with plenty of time to enjoy morning views and solid snow. We took a slightly different line (sticking closer to the creek) which managed to stick to grassy/treed slopes offering efficient descent.

All in all Cirrus is a great peak and nice snowshoe objective for this time of year. While it would be possible to finish it as a daytrip sunset and sunrise views of Coleman from the bivy make staying the night worthwhile!

 

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