Mount Nirvana, Northwest Territories

Prominence: 1663 m, 5456 ft

Elevation: 2773 meters, 9098 feet

True Isolation: 219.84 km, 136.6 mi
Latitude/Longitude (WGS84)61° 52' 31'' N, 127° 40' 50'' W
61.875168, -127.680685 (Dec Deg)
569381 E 6860978 N, Zone 9 (UTM)
State/ProvinceNorthwest Territories (Highest Point)
County/Second Level RegionDeh Cho (Highest Point)

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Lists that contain Mount Nirvana:
     Combined USA-Canada-Mexico State/Province High Points (Rank #42)
     USA/Canada Range4 High Points (Rank #91)
     North America Peaks with 200 km of Isolation (Rank #106)
     Ultras of North America (Rank #226)
     Canada Sampler List (Rank #16)
     Most Prominent Peaks of Canadian Provinces (Rank #5)
     Canada Province/Territory High Points (Rank #4)
     EPIC List - Provinces/Territories of Canada (Rank #5)
     Principal Heights of Canada (Rank #42)
     All Canada County/Census Division High Points (Rank #23)
     Canada Peaks with 200 km of Isolation (Rank #39)
     Canada National Park High Points (Rank #8)
     Ultras of Canada Territories (Rank #20)
     Northwest Territories Region High Points (Rank #1)

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

Ascent Info

Total ascents/attempts logged by registered users: 17
     Show all viewable ascents/attempts (Total: 17)

Selected Trip Reports:
     2015-07-13 by Eric Gilbertson (Unsuccessful)
     2016-06-19 by Eric Gilbertson (Unsuccessful)
     2016-06-21 by Eric Gilbertson
     2017-07-24 by Eric Gilbertson (Unsuccessful)
     2017-08-01 by Eric Gilbertson (Unsuccessful)
     2017-08-02 by Eric Gilbertson (Unsuccessful)
     2017-08-07 by Eric Gilbertson (Unsuccessful)
     2017-08-11 by Eric Gilbertson

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 unless helicopters are used. The main starting points are a floatplane drop-off at Rabbitkettle or Lonely Lakes, 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 steep 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. Later, one ascent was made in 2014 and one in 2016. This is not a peak that gets climbed often.

Click on photo for original larger-size version.
The east face of Nirvana, seen from just above base camp during the successful 2016 overland expedition (June 2016). (2016-06-23). Photo by Eric Gilbertson.
Click here for larger-size photo.
Web Map LinksPeakfinder Panorama
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ProminenceKey Col Page  (Detailed prominence information)
  Clean Prominence: 1663 m/5456 ft
  Optimistic Prominence: 1663 m/5456 ft
  Line Parent: Keele Peak
  Key Col: Moose Ponds    1110 m/3642 ft
IsolationIsolation Page  (Detailed isolation information)
   Distance: 219.84 km/136.6 mi
   Isolation Limit Point: 63.43, -130.32001
Nearest Higher Neighbor in the PBC database:
    Keele Peak  (NW)
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
    Buckingham, Bill
    Surdam, Lew
Data Source1:50,000 Topographic Survey Map
Dynamic Map

 Mount Nirvana   ( Key Col)    Other Peaks
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