Watermelon Peak GR:453295

elevation: 3,095 m. height gain: 1,585 m. (includes height loss)
area: Icefields Parkway,AB map 82 N/9
2014-Jul-26


Ref: Alpine Club Climber's Guide, Rocky Mountains South 1979 edition (the Green Book). lake helen
Early morning at Lake Helen.
Alpine climb: RT 5.0; 3.0 up (from Lake Alice). We've been curious about this objective for quite some time now but in the past few years, it's been difficult finding overnight arrangements for our doggies. We recently found out about Christine's Call of the Wild pet services and our hounds have been deemed ready for an overnight stay. With a good forecast, we decided to venture to beautiful Lake Alice. Still tired from last weekend's foray to Molar Mountain, we left early to give us ample time to reach the lake and attempt the summit of Watermelon. There wasn't a lot of information on this ascent other than Rick Collier's trip report on Bivouac, we hoped the route described would be fruitful.

Approach: We were thrilled to be hiking on nice National Park trails and not have to deal with any trees and shrubs past Lake Helen; that guaranteed fantastic views and marmots galore! We reached Lake Helen in a little over 2 hours. The air was crisp, there was ice on the trail and fresh snow on mountaintops; not for long though, the sun was rising and so was the temperature. After a break, we continued past the lake, up the ridge and back down towards Dolomite Pass. The landscape is delightful and the marmots are indeed numerous. From the pass, we were happy to see open terrain down the valley. Dolomite Creek appeared shallow, crossing it would be much easier than Molar Creek's ford. We continued on the trail and it led us to some rocks strategically placed across the creek; we stayed on the trail until it veers across the creek again, we needed to stay on the east side to start climbing towards Lake Alice's outflow. The landscape is lovely and grants pleasant trekking to the lake; in total, it took 4.75 hours to reach the lake.

We dropped extra gear and ate lunch before heading out through a boulder field that is both short and easy to navigate; we climbed a moraine to gain the glacier. We strapped on the crampons and skirted the glacier, climber's left, on perennial snow alongside a buttress. The laid-back angle is nice, we were still mindful of possible moats. Above the buttress, we committed to the glacier in order to gain Watermelon's south ridge. The climb, sometimes on bare ice, is straightforward and no crevasses were visible. Once on the ridge, we scaled loose rubble to a highpoint; moderate scrambling across the ridge leads to a saddle that precedes the summit block. Atop a wide notch, we had the summit in sight. We casually walked to the top where we had a fantastic summit stay. We enjoyed the warm weather and great view while Charles took a nap; we were in no hurry to return. The register revealed few entries, about a visit every four years. That's surprising as this objective is easily accessed and can be done as a long day trip by strong hikers. Back at the lake, we wished the clouds away and watched the sun set before retiring for the night. The next morning, I threw in the idea of climbing Bobac Mountain before heading out but was quickly shut down by both Fab and Charles. Fabrice suggested we come back and do it as a day trip some day; that appeased me, I actually didn't mind the thought of coming back this way. Our return was very casual; we took tons of pictures and had lunch at the tarn below Cirque Peak. Lake Alice is a primo destination and Watermelon Peak is a sweet climb; can't wait to come back for Bobac!
highpoint of the trail
The highpoint of the trail, at the foot of Cirque Peak.
dolomite pass
Dolomite Pass to the east.
lake katherine
Lake Katherine and Dolomite Peak.
rejoining the trail
Rejoining the trail to Dolomite Pass.
dolomite creek
Beyond the pass, the popular trail continues along Dolomite Creek.
crossing the creek
Crossing Dolomite Creek.
valley bottom
Valley bottom before climbing towards Lake Alice.
looking back
Looking back.
lake alice's outflow
Lovely terrain around Lake Alice's outflow.
lake alice
Circumventing Lake Alice on its west shore.
nice area for a bivy
We found a nice flat area for a bivy and dropped extra gear.
our route
Our plan is to skirt the glacier climber's left, along the buttress in the middle.
approaching the glacier
Approaching the glacier.
skirting the glacier
Skirting the glacier.
neat window
A neat window above the glacier.
on the glacier
Now on the glacier, we head for the gentle snow slope.
snow slope
Travelling on glacial ice.
onto the south ridge
Arriving onto Watermelon's south ridge.
watermelon peak
Watermelon Peak.
moderate scrambling
Moderate scrambling along the south ridge.
saddle
A saddle precedes the summit block.
wide notch
Aiming for the wide notch between the rockbands.
above the notch
Above the notch, the top is minutes away.
at the top
At the top.
bobac mountain
Bobac Mountain north-west of us.
view south-east
View south-east over Quartzite Col and Pipestone Pass.
leaving the top
Leaving the top.
backtraking
Backtracking along the south ridge.
on the ridge
More of the same.
nearing the snow slope
Descending to the snow slope.
back on the glacier
Back on the glacier.
spectacular scenery
Spectacular scenery.
boulder field
A small section of the boulder field is easily negotiated.
enjoying the afternoon
Enjoying the late afternoon at Lake Alice; priceless.
ready to leave
Ready to leave the following morning.
lovely lake
Wish the water was warm enough to go for a swim.
pleasant trekking
Pleasant trekking next to Lake Alice's outflow; the water empties in a pond which siphons out. (video link)
crossing the creek again
Crossing Dolomite Creek again.
dolomite peak
Dolomite Peak from Dolomite Pass.
lake katherine
Lake Katherine ahead.
cirque peak's tarn
We visited Cirque Peak's tarn for a nice lunch break.
distinctive dolomite peak
Distinctive Dolomite Peak.
back to lake helen
Returning to Lake Helen.
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