Mount Cirrus – North Face
FA-1983 J.Elzinga & I. Stewart-Patterson
Simply put, this is a great route in a great location. One wonders how such a fun route went 28 years before seeing a repeat ascent, nor why did the first ascentionists never shared details about their climb until 2011. In a somewhat hidden valley above the world famous Weeping Wall, lies an obvious line up the north face which puts one directly onto the summit. Although the second ascent was done in an 18 hour day from the car, it is highly recommended that one spreads the trip over 2 days as the bivy site is exceptional and solely camping here would make a trip worthwhile. This is a moderate climb of its kind, offering 3 exciting sections and plenty of climbing.
Driving north past the Weeping Wall for 2.2km, park at a small pull-out on the West side of the road. Cross the road. Walk along the ditch for about 100m, passing a small drainage pipe along the way, reaching a second culvert, which has an old manmade rockwall built along it. From this point follow an excellent, well flagged trail (2011). You should not encounter any difficulties unless you miss the trail, in which case you will quickly end up bush wacking. This trail eventually leads into an intermittent stream bed. If this stream is flowing well, it is a great indication that the route might not be in its best condition. Follow the stream bed passing occasional flagging. Once the view ahead opens up a bit, pay close attention for a couple cairns and flagging tape indicating a change in direction. From here traverse 20m jumping over a small stream, then angling up and right, once again finding an excellent, well flagged trail. Follow this meandering trail until a large open alpine meadow is reached. Looking across the meadow, follow its southern edge, shortly emerging in the main drainage near a junction of 2 streams; nearly at treeline. Follow the left side of the creek emerging from the South, following a combination of flagging and cairns, shortly reaching an excellent bivy site on level ground nearby to water. Enjoy the breathtaking views and the mountain goats who seem to regularly frequent the nearby cliffs to the north on the unnamed peak. Road to bivy: 3 hours
The landslide debris between the bivy and the glacier seems discouraging at first, but navigates quite well. Head in the direction of the creek, soon following the edge of the water, where gravel has accumulated to provide quick travel. Higher up, the glacier has receded into 2 independent glaciers. Aim for the bottom of the left hand glacier. Once onto the glacier, work your way up and eventually following the right edge of the glacier, avoiding the complex terrain in the middle. This required a somewhat steep, but brief traverse on glacier ice, that quickly returns to easy glacial travel. Continue up the glacier until the obvious line comes into view. Climb up snow slopes, past a bergshrund until you reach visible ice to make an anchor. The first real pitch of climbing requires a short, exposed mixed traverse to the right to reach the couloir proper. This is followed by 2 or 3 full 70m pitches of moderate ice and snow climbing, mostly protected with ice screws and some rock gear. The ramping nature of this route makes for safe belays. The next pitch is the most interesting. Climb on the left side of a slightly overhanging hard snow feature to its top (20m), revealing decent exposure. Traverse 50m on thin ice, protecting with short screws and some rock gear (pitons helpful) until you reach 70m and thicker ice coming from above, providing a good anchor. Climb another 2 pitches of lower angle snow and ice (thin in places) until 20m below the ridge. Climb thin ice and rock, burrowing thru a cornice onto the ridge (M4). Scramble to the top. This last mixed step can be avoided by climbing a snow slope directly above the anchor to the summit cairn in one pitch.
7 pitches + 20m
Follow the ridge until you can enter a gully that descends onto the glacier below. Traverse along the glacier until below the col. Gain 100m of elevation to the col. Descend steep snow slopes until you reach the glacier, quickly regaining your uptrack. This descent requires good snow conditions. It is possible to follow the ridge all the way to the col, avoiding the need to regain elevation, however this descent involves exposed downclimbing, 2 rappels (one of which is hairy), is more time consuming and is not recommended.