Mount Nirvana, Northwest Territories

Prominence: 1663 m, 5456 ft

Elevation: 2773 meters, 9098 feet

Approx. Isolation: 220.09 km, 136.76 mi
Latitude/Longitude (WGS84)61° 52' 31'' N; 127° 40' 50'' W
61.875168, -127.680685 (Dec Deg)
569381E 6860978N Zone 9 (UTM)
State/ProvinceNorthwest Territories (Highest Point)
County/Second Level RegionFort Smith (Highest Point)

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Lists that contain Mount Nirvana:
     USA/Canada Range4 High Points (Rank #91)
     All Canada County/Census Division High Points (Rank #23)
     Most Prominent Peaks of Canadian Provinces (Rank #5)
     Canada Province/Territory High Points (Rank #4)
     Northwest Territories Region High Points (Rank #1)
     Canada National Park High Points (Rank #8)
     1500-meter Prominence Peak with Ascents (Rank #364)
     Combined USA-Canada-Mexico State/Province High Points (Rank #42)

Selected Guidebook(s) for this Peak:
       Not Won in a Day: Climbing Canada's Highpoints (Bennett)

View ascents of peak by registered members (6 total)

Nearby Peak Searches:
     Radius Search - Nearest Peaks to Mount Nirvana
     Elevation Ladder from Mount Nirvana
     Prominence Ladder from Mount Nirvana

Mount Nirvana is much more than the highest point in the Northwest Territories of Canada. It is a remote, difficult, mysterious, and alluring tower of rock that offers a spectacular and difficult challenge for even experienced mountaineers. Its name perfectly captures the extreme sense of accomplishment the rare summiters feel at its airy spire, as if they had ascended to a state of perfect bliss.

The peak was not even approached by mountaineers until 1960, when a summit near Nirvana was climbed and the mysterious highest point in the region was first casually named Mount Nahanni after the nearby river. That same year, noted climber Bill Buckingham was in the Cirque of the Unclimbables, a remote but well-known rock-climbing center, and he his eyes were drawn to the remarkable peak 30 km to the south. Five years later, in 1965, he made the first ascent of the peak after a long and harrowing reconnaissance and named it Mount Nirvana. For almost 50 years this name has been used exclusively in the climbing community, despite lack of an official name.

It is not clear when it was determined that Nirvana was the Northwest Territories high point. Well into the 1980s many reputable publications and maps gave that honor to Mount Sir James MacBrien, high point of the Unclimbables area. Latest maps and surveys confirm that Nirvana is 14 meters higher than MacBrien.

An ascent of Nirvana is a serious undertaking, requiring an arduous approach to even get close to the peak. The closest legal starting points are a floatplane drop-off at Rabbitkettle Lake, or an overland approach from Tungsten at the end of the rough Nahanni Range Road. It then takes days of difficult travel through bogs, brush, talus, and even fifth-class rock just to get to the base of the climb. Rainy weather and clouds of mosquitoes are common. The peak itself is a rock climb in the YDS 5.7 range.

Parties ascended Nirvana in 1965, 1975, and 1996. This author does not know of any subsequent climbs.

Google Maps Dynamic Map

 Mount Nirvana    Other Peaks
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Web Map LinksAcme Mapper   MyTopo   Gmap4   Toporama
Bing Maps   Google Maps
Prominence  Clean Prominence: 1663 m/5456 ft
  Optimistic Prominence: 1663 m/5456 ft
  Key Col: 1110 m/3642 ft
Isolation220.09 km/136.76 mi
Nearest Higher Neighbor in the PBC database:
    Keele Peak  (NW)
Not verified: May be a major NHN that is not in the database.
RangesContinent: North America
Range2: Alaska-Yukon Ranges
Range3: Mackenzie Mountains
Range4: Backbone Ranges (Highest Point)
Drainage BasinsMackenzie
Beaufort Sea
Arctic Ocean
OwnershipLand: Nahanni National Park Reserve (Highest Point)
Topo MapMount Sidney Dobson 95 E/13 1:50,000
First AscentJuly, 1965
Bill Buckingham
Lew Surdam

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