State of the Cirque 1997

This summer was more rainy in the Yukon than in past years and resulted in less climbable weather than usual. The heavy rains also resulted in some tremendous rockfall. In early August a 1000' chunk of Mount Harrison Smith, at the entrance to the Cirque, peeled off and erased the entire approach trail through the talus. Boxcar sized boulders plowed a path all the way down to the Brintnell Creek drainage, creating a very unstable approach. Nobody was in the path of the onslaught, but parties both in the Cirque and making the approach had a difficult time of "running the guantlet" for the remainder of August. Another 500' block peeled off the summit of Parrot Beak Peak and produced some very unclimbable real estate. Despite a profusion of new sport routes (5 at this count were discovered) on the Fairy Meadows boulders, the meadows themselves are in remarkably good shape.

Despite the rain and rockfall, many ascents of the Lotus Flower Tower were completed and a few new routes were established. At least 6 parties climbed the LFT in August. Descent off of the LFT has been greatly eased by recently installed bolted rappel stations down the face.

In July a new route "Club International" on the NE buttress of Bustle Tower was established by Sean Isaac and Andreas Taylor. Graded V 5.10 A2, the route topo was drawn on a girly magazine of the same name found in a waterproof case at the bivy site in Fairy Meadows.

An unknown team of climbers established a striking new route, complete with bolted rappel anchors, on the East face of East Huey Spire but were unable to complete the line due to lack of time and more rain. In late August, the team of Paul Friberg and Kurt Blair did a complete ascent of the route "Riders on the Storm" IV 5.10 A2 (7 pitches).

An American team from Utah attempted a new line on the steep Central Huey Spire, but bad weather and lack of food negated an ascent.

During a remarkable break in the weather, Blair and Friberg also established a new line on Terrace Tower on the left side of the white pillar on the South Face. The new 5 pitch route, "The White Tower", follows a rappel line set by other climbers and involves 5.11a free climbing with some A1 to get through grungy bits. The line will go entirely free given some more cleaning.

Paul Friberg (

September 15, 1997