Nahanni National Park Reserve
Experienced climbers from across the world travel to Nahanni National Park Reserve’s Ragged Range to ascend its granite routes.
If you’ve checked off all your bucket list climbs in the Rockies and want to try something a bit more extreme, add routes in Nahanni National Park Reserve to your list.
Tackle legendary walls in the Cirque of the Unclimbables or soaring spires in the Vampire Peaks area.
Cirque of the Unclimbables
- Lotus Flower Tower
- Eighteen pitches of world-class big wall trad climbing
- Huey Spire
- Bustle tower
- Terrace Tower
Read about other routes in the Cirque outlined in George Bell’s guide to the Cirque of the Unclimbables here.
Base camp: Fairy Meadows and Glacier Lake
Facilities at Fairy Meadows include a pit toilet… and nature provides the rest! There is access to a crystal clear stream for water filtering and massive overhanging boulders that are perfect for setting up kitchen areas.
At Glacier Lake, you’ll find food caches that can be used if you are planning on stashing food and doing a re-supply partway through your adventure in the Cirque.
Find this collection of spires 25 kilometres northwest of the Cirque. This area is less popular than the Cirque but features many columns with tall granite walls great for experienced and expert climbers.
- Mount Nirvana, the highest peak in the Northwest Territories, is around 25 kilometers south of the Cirque.
- Mount Proboscis
When to go
Most climbers plan their trips in July or August. Due to high elevation and northern latitudes, snow can fall any month of the year, so climbers often plan 2-3 weeks to maximize their chance of having a good weather window to climb in.
Make sure you submit your reservation request well before your planned travel – prime climbing dates fill up fast.
If you’re planning to stay overnight in the park, you must reserve your trip. You must also register before visiting and de-register when you leave the park.
The Cirque of the Unclimbables is accessible by booking a float plane through a licensed operator into Glacier Lake and hiking a strenuous 6 km into Fairy Meadows.
Glacier Lake is a designated landing spot, so no special landing permit is required. Landing anywhere else (i.e., any access by helicopter) requires an additional landing permit, which should be requested a minimum of 90 days before your trip.
Helicopter access to the Cirque is discouraged due to the fragility and tranquility of the alpine environment. Helicopter access to other sites like the Vampire Peaks may be approved on a case-by-case basis and must be booked through a recognized and legally licensed company.
Previous climbers to the Cirque and Vampire Peaks have accessed the sites by water, paddling in through South Nahanni River tributaries. Please contact us for more information on paddling routes to these areas.
Know before you go: Climbing Safety and Guidelines
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