Ines Papert

Cirque of the Unclimbables

Ines Papert and Lisi Steurer on an explorational journey in Canada

In August 2009 Ines Papert together with Lisi Steurer from Austria made the first ascent of “Power of Silence” 400m, 5.13a on the Middle Huey Spire in the Cirque of the Unclimbables, Canada.

Marc Pichè
Photo: Marc Pichè

The two women opted for a line on the South Face of the 2310m high Middle Huey Spire, to the left of the 1977 route climbed by Karl Kosa, Erwin Weilguny and Erich Lackner. The duo forged their route over three days at the start of August then redpointed their "Power of Silence" a week later. Before leaving this "forgotten Yosemite" as it is often called, the two also blazed up the "South East Buttress" on the nearby Lotus Flower Tower and carried out the first free ascent of "Riders on the Storm" on the East Huey Spire, which now goes free at 5.12 d (7c).

The Power of Silence in the Cirque of the Unclimbables by Ines Papert

In the middle of the Canadian wilderness we achieved a fantastic and continuously demanding first ascent on the 400m South Face of Middle Huey Spire. We followed the logical line along cracks and through a very obvious system of dihedrals in the left sector of the wall which led us over some enormous roofs. We almost exclusively used traditional gear like pitons, Camalots and other camming devices. For the belay stations and four other necessary intermediate belays we placed bolts.

A British team left us 90 metres of static rope and thanks to them we are able to climb the upper part in one go. But every meter up to the summit had to be earned and climbing the route felt arduous and very exposed. Luckily the days were long. After three days of hard work on 2. August 2009 we reached the summit of Middle Huey Spire for the first time. This was Lisi's 1st alpine first ascent, and this doubled our joy. The terrain seemed to be ideal for base jumping (for a basejumper), which of course would be the fastest way down. But we had enough adrenaline in our veins and were just as happy to abseil down route to the bottom of the wall.

We were now faced by two questions: would we manage a free ascent of our route? The first ascent had already demanded all repertoire of of technical climbing tricks, plus the wall was very steep. Also, would we be lucky with the weather? During our rest day we were plagued by these thoughts. But the weather god was on our side and even after one rainy day the wall was still dry. We spent another day in our route, practising and cleaning it and two days later we managed the free ascent. On 7. August, in the afternoon, we reached the summit a second time, very happy with out free ascent up this exposed route.

"Power of Silence" seems to be a perfect name. The silence and solitude of the wilderness provided the energy and helped us work as a team in perfect harmony. As a grade we suggest 5.13- (7c+). 11 pitches, mostly 5.11 and 5.12. This is only the second route up the mostly overhanging south face of the Middle Huey Spire, one of the most secluded summits in the area.

During a stable fair-weather phase, unusual for this region, we were able to realize two more dreams — an on-sight ascent of the most famous summit in the area, the Lotus Flower Tower via the 800m "South East Buttress" 5.10c in 9.5 hours and the first free ascent of "Riders on the Storm" 5.12 d (7c, 11 pitches) on East Huey Spire.

Thanks to our friends in Canada, Chris Atkinson and Marc Piche, who inspired us for this trip. They are currently working on a new guidebook and a coffee-table book to the area and thanks to them we got the chance to visit this wonderful area.

Cirque of the Unclimbables, Canada.
Power of Silence
- Middle Huey Spire, S Face
First ascent: Ines Papert, Lisi Steurer 08/2009
400m, 5.13a (7c+), 11 pitches

Riders on the Storm - East Huey Spire, NE Face
First ascent: Paul Friberg & Kurt Blair, 1997
First free ascent: Ines Papert (climbing with Lisi Steurer) 08/2009
5.12 d (7c), 11 pitches


FA Power of Silence 5.13a

First ascent: Ines Papert, Lisi Steurer 08/2009


Canada, Group: Cirque of the Unclimbables, Peak: Middle Huey Spire S Face, Height: 2310m, Country: Canada, Region: Northwest Territories

Logical line along cracks and through a very obvious system of dihedrals in the left section of the wall past some enormous roofs. Established over three days at the start of August 2009, then climbed free in a day by Ines Papert.

Getting there

From Blackstone fly to Glacier Lake, then continue hiking for a day to reach the Cirque of the Unclimbables and the Fairy Meadows.


The route starts to the right of the 1977 Middle Huey Spire route, then climbs left and crosses this after pitch three.


P1: 5.4, 60m

P2: 5.10b, 45m

P3: 5.10c, 45m

P4: 5.10d, 45m

P5: 5.10c, 30m

P6: 5.12c, 36m,

P7: 5.12b, 25m

P8: 5.11a, 27m

P9: 5.13a, 20m

P10: 5.11c, 40m

P11: 5.11a, 20m


Abseil down the line of ascent.


Belays equipped with bolts, 4 other bolts placed along the route. All the rest climbed free with trad gear.

Topo "Power of Silence"

Stories of Rock and Ice