Alice Lake captured my imagination since I saw a photo of it by well-known Banff photographer and climber Paul Zizka. His picture was the only one I could find on-line, which made me intrigued even more. I really like beautiful but secluded and rarely visited alpine lakes. A quick google search revealed that Bobac Peak right beside Alice Lake is a Class II scramble. Here we go, a great weekend trip to a secluded spot in Banff NP!
I convinced my friend to join me. At first we planned to do Beauty Lakes in Jasper but weather forecast looked more promising for Banff so we changed a destination in the last moment. We set off from Helen Lake Trailhead on Sat. July 28 in the late morning. My friend haven't done Cirque Peak and I didn't mind repeating it so we made a quick side-trip to the summit of this touristy mountain before proceeding to Katherine Lake.
Helen Lake is a very popular and touristy trail. All people disappeared once we descended to Katherine Lake. Since then we haven't seen a single soul for 24 hours. Katherine Lake, Dolomite Pass and Dolomite Creek areas were very boggy but luckily for us mosquitoes were not a big issue.
There is no trail to Alice Lake but getting there is very easy. Descend Dolomite Pass on a fairly good trail and ford Dolomite Creek. Follow it on the right (eastern) side before the trail crosses the creek again to the left (western side). At this point you can't follow the creek on the right without some side-slopping on a steep hill. Gain that hill and then generally steer north-east until you hit the lake. You can't get lost there. A creek that empties Alice Lake can help you with the direction.
Alice Lake didn't disappoint us. It's set in pristine alpine tundra. As expected we had the lake for ourselves for 2 days. The lake was particularly beautiful next day in the morning: its still waters perfectly reflected the surrounding terrain.
In the morning we set off for Bobac Peak. I saw a huge boulder field east of the lake on GoogleEarth but underestimated how huge it was. We took the worst route possible staying in the middle of the field instead of sticking as close to Bobac Peak as possible on climber's left. I haven't seen before such huge boulder field of car-to-house size boulders. They provided some fun scrambling but slowed us down considerably. My friend was not used to this kind of terrain so he was moving fairly slowly and looked really tired.
Finally we crossed the boulder field. At this moment I noticed the heavily corniced Bobac Peak summit ridge. We would have to spend a considerable time under a huge cornice on very hard snow. Bobac Peak was out of question. We decided to ascend a lower summit, south of the main peak, which I named Little Bobac. We dropped to a bowl with a small lake to gain the summit via what looked like fairly straightforward rubble slope.
We were running out of time and my friend looked quite exhausted so we changed a destination once again to a ridge between Bobac Peak and Watermelon Peak. I named it Alice Ridge. The ridge provided fabulous panorama of Devon Lakes and Pipestone Pass area as well as views back to Alice Lake. I ascended the highpoint of the ridge for an improved view.
We descended quickly back to Alice Lake, packed up and bid farewell to this beautiful area. On the way back near Dolomite Pass we met a group of six ladies in their sixties who were coming over Quartzite Col on the way to ... Alice Lake. Perhaps, it's not as seldom visited lake as I thought.
I'm surely come back to this beautiful area in a few years perhaps in mid-to-late August to ascend Bobac Peak and possibly Watermelon too.
1-4: Helen Lake Trail and Cirque Peak. Unfortunately, weather didn't cooperate here.
5-8: Katherine Lake.
9-10: Enjoying Sunset by Alice Lake
11-21: Alice Lake in the morning:
22-23: Alice Lake from the boulder field; 24 - On the hard snow.
24-27: Devon Lakes and Pipestone Pass Area from Alice Ridge:
28: Highpoint of Alice Ridge - my next destination; 29 - Watermelon Peak from Alice Ridge; 30 - Bobac Peak
31-32: Alice Lake from the Ridge
33-35: Crossing the boulder field on the way back.
36-37. Good-bye Alice. We had a good time with you!
38-39: Dolomite Creek Meadows; 40: Fording Dolomite Creek: 41: Unnamed Tarn near Dolomite Pass
GPS Track on GoogleEarth: