Bobac Mountain GR:435315

elevation: 3,088 m. height gain: 1,580 m.
area: Icefields Parkway,AB map 82 N/9
2015-Sep-11


From Lake Alice, ascend the far (eastern) gully that leads to Bobac's south ridge above an impressive headwall. Aim for the base of the first cliff on the ridgeline and start your traverse on the east side using a natural steep scree ramp (see pictures). There's a good transition to the saddle just before the summit block. Follow easy slopes to the top. cirque peak
Cirque Peak as we near Lake Helen early morning.
Scramble: RT 14.0; 7.5 up. Bobac Mountain is a nice peak just north of Lake Alice, it's nearly as tall as adjacent Watermelon Peak. This 30-kilometer hike grants easy mileage on a great trail over easy terrain, the short exciting scramble leads to a lofty viewpoint. We read Rick Collier's account of his ascent through the boulder field and also came across a couple of failed attempts going that way. Looking at the mountain's east side from Watermelon Peak, we couldn't help but to notice an obvious, uninterrupted ramp leading to the saddle between the disrupted ridge and the summit block. The ramp reminded me of the one leading to the Richardson-Pika Col from Hidden Lake except this one is steeper and high above an impressive vertical wall. Fabrice was adamant about trying the ramp; if this route proved successful, it would avoid both the boulder field and the cornice!

After being turned around at the trailhead last year because of a closure, we made sure to keep an eye on the trail report from the National Park; the trail to Lake Helen can be closed or have a 4 person restriction. Following a stretch of poor weather, Fabrice and I were both granted a day off during the week to take advantage of the stellar weather before it spoiled again. We sent some invites and Raff was able to get the time off and come along. We started on the popular trail by headlamp. As we neared Lake Helen, daylight was upon us and the sky was clear. A thin layer of ice had formed on puddles; with the fresh snow, it felt like fall. It took about 4.5 hours of delightful hiking to reach Lake Alice. We aimed for our planned route and gained the scree ramp on the eastern side of the ridge. So far, the terrain was easily negotiable; we were excited and anticipating the following ramp section. The fresh snow gave the traverse an alpine feel, Fabrice led the way staying high up near the cliffwall. The snow was over boot-top; although it pin-wheeled, it did not propagate. Consensus was that it offered great footing as opposed to scree. We carried on across the ramp and were thrilled to see it simply connect to the saddle, avoiding the cornice altogether. We ascended the slopes to the cairn while soaking in the view and the feat. Once at the top, we cheered after putting on extra layers. This one was especially rewarding, we weren't sure the route we had plotted from Watermelon Peak would be fruitful. We enjoyed the top for an hour before backtracking to the lake. Once at the lake, it was understood we had to take another pause before resuming our return; Lake Alice is a marvel. The hike back in the afternoon sun was quite pleasant; we met some people on horseback at Dolomite Pass, they were heading to Isabelle Lake. We lost the sunshine as we descended to Lake Helen. The rest of the trail down was uneventful as we hastily hiked, trying to beat the dark. Our feet were very sore by the time we reached the car!
dolomite peak
Heading to Dolomite Pass with Dolomite Peak in the background.
lake katherine
Along Lake Katherine's shore, Dolomite Pass in the sun ahead.
bobac mountain
Beautiful terrain leads to Lake Alice at the base of Bobac Mountain.
bobac's south ridge
Gaining Bobac's south ridge, lining up for a traverse on the scree ramp.
straightforward ascent
Straightforward ascent right by a pointy pinnacle.
loose in places
A bit loose in places.
lake alice
Looking back at Lake Alice.
aiming for the cliffwall
Aiming for the base of the cliffwall just right of center.
on the eastern side
On the eastern side, the top of Bobac Mountain comes into view.
fools
Avoiding the boulder field below.
on the ramp
Hoping this route leads to the saddle and summit block.
impressive wall below
Traversing above an impressive wall that guards the east side of the mountain.
looking back
Looking back.
transition to the saddle
Nice transition to the saddle.
watermelon peak
Watermelon Peak south-east of us.
summit slopes
Summit slopes.
looking back again
Looking back again.
reaching the top
Reaching the top!
summit picture
Summit picture looking south-east, courtesy of Raff.
view north-west
Fabulous north-western view.
heading down
Heading down.
backtracking
Backtracking on the ramp.
mount hector
Mount Hector protrudes over the ridgeline.
big drop
A terrific drop exists to the sea of car-sized boulders.
fast descent
Fast descent to the lake.
break by the lake
Time for another fine break by lovely Lake Alice.
random hiking
Nice random hiking following the lake's outflow.
dolomite pass ahead
On our way to Dolomite Pass.
afternoon sunshine
Late afternoon sunshine as we climb back up Cirque Peak's shoulder.
lake helen
Lake Helen and shade...
uninterrupted ramp
The uninterrupted ramp as seen from Watermelon Peak.
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