Bobac Mountain GR:435315

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

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.


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 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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