A yet unnamed peak in the Mackenzie Mountains, measured
at 9,098 ft, (2,773 metres) is located in the Ragged Range
of the Logan Mountains, a sub range of the Mackenzie Mountains.
The Mackenzie Mountains are a northern extension of
the Rocky Mountains and lies along the southwestern border
of the Northwest Territories, and form the headwaters
of the South Nahanni River. The range runs northwest between
the British Columbia border and the Peel River valley.
The range is about 800 km long. It forms the southern
border between Yukon and Northwest Territories.
The mountains and broad plateau are composed of limestone.
The wide sweeping valleys of the Mackenzie and Liard rivers
cut through this region. Rivers slice through the extensive
high plateau and mountains, carving deep canyons. Those
of the South Nahanni River are best known, but similar
breathtaking canyons are found along other rivers in this
region. Dense boreal forests of white and black spruce,
with stands of jack-pine or lodgepole pine, cover the
rolling uplands and terraces above the Mackenzie and Liard
river valleys. Extensive areas of alpine tundra are found
throughout this region. Named for Sir Alexander Mackenzie,
who explored the Mackenzie River in 1789.
In William Buckingham, a mountain climber, coined it Nirvana
in 1965 and is referred to as "Mount Nirvana"
in alpine literature. The mountain is in the Ragged Range,
southwest of the South Nahanni River. For a long time,
Mount Sir James MacBrien (2,764 m) 30 km to the north
of Mount Nirvana was designated as the highest peak in
the Northwest Territories, but Nirvana is at least 9m
higher. A native of Port Perry, Ontario, MacBrien (1878-1938)
was a distinguished soldier and commissioner of the RCMP
from 1931 to 1938.
The first climbing expedition into the area was led
by John Milton in 1960. John Milton and Ed Arnold landed
at Hole-in-the-Wall Lake, where they were doing ecological
research. They decided to head west through the various
passes. John Milton climbed Mount Savage, and from there
he saw Nirvana, which he referred to as Mount Nahanni.
In 1965 Bill Buckingham and Lew Surdam landed at Hole-in-the-Wall
Lake and approached the mountain from the south, but decided
it was too steep, so they went around to the west and
then north of the mountain. Their camp was in a cirque
surrounded by high peaks now known as the Nirvana sanctuary.
From here they climbed the peak via the northwest ridge.
The best known peaks in the Logan Mountains are a series
of granite spires known as the "Cirque of the Unclimbables".
However, Nirvana is in a second group of mountains, known
as the Ragged Range, about 30 km south of the Cirque of
the Unclimbables. Mount Nirvana is the highest peak in
the Northwest Territories.
But though the Mackenzie Mountains game preserve was established
in 1938 the vast range's highland have remained largely
untouched. Nahanni National Park was established in 1972
in the southern part of the range.