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post #1 of (permalink) Old 07-15-2020, 07:14 PM Thread Starter
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Default Bolt Lake to Pipestone

Siffleur Wilderness is remote and extremely spectacular BNP alpine area. Few years back I did 3 nights, 4 days Devon Lakes backpack and to this day it stands as one of best trips I ever did, not only in Canada. On that occasion I approached via official Parks trail over North Molar Pass and Fish Lakes. There are shorter ways in -- peakbaggers bound for Mt. Willingdon scramble via Quartzite col, but I was interested in "Mosquito Col"; people "in the know" claim it to be significant shortcut. Knowing from prior trips how spectacular Molar alpine area is, this also presented an idea for great day hike!

I made short work of approach & after ~2 hrs of brisk pace entered that gorgeous alpine meadow leading to North Molar Pass


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["NM" - North Molar Pass, and official Parks Trail to Fish Lakes. "MC" - Mosquito Col and my destination I was about to investigate]


Trail was quite muddy, basically early summer season conditions. On a plus side, there were still no bugs. Approaching "Molar Tarn", I crossed outlet to north side and this was bit more involved due to high water. I did not take boots off, but did put gaiters to keep dry. After crossing I left trail and headed in general direction of "Mosquito Col"; adventure was about to begin!


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[Point where I left trail after crossing Molar Tarn outlet; North Molar Pass left of center]


There is no trail or even rudimentary signs of human traffic, but hiking was easy and simply delightful. I had to cross couple more creeks but it was trivial. These meadows are prime grizzly habitat and I constantly scanned my environs but saw nothing (except couple of marmots). Views back were simply stunning!


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[Looking back at gorgeous alpine of Molar Meadows. Noseeum Peak center right]


Topping up major highlight awaited -- Bolt Lake! Nothing of this beautiful body of water becomes apparent till you are actually there, and I can imagine it being spectacular surprise for someone now knowing it was there:

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[Bolt Lake! Mosquito col route into Pipestone is over that ridge on far side of the lake]

I don't think anyone passed here this year. Left (north) size is the way to go around, and it was not trivial because of lingering wet snow slope I took my time crossing. On the far side slope was gentle and mostly dry; I stopped and looked back frequently admiring this gorgeous alpine lake:


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[Still semi-frozen Bolt Lake ascending "Mosquito Col"]


I intercepted ridge above at lowpoint; I was not sure at which side is actually the drop into Pipestone, but as usual my nose lead me into right direction. Turning (south) I easily hiked on beautiful open ridge to highpoint which had cairn, first indicator of human traffic I saw after leaving Fish Lakes trail. Much more gentle scree slope than expected on other side also had rough, but distinct trail & I knew this was it. Panorama was simply spectacular; I found sheltered spot and soaked it all in for 15 minutes before turning back:

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[Pipestone Valley pano. Fish Lakes route traverses this gorgeous alpine on near side. Prominent peak just right of center in distance is Cataract Peak. Col on the left is route Backpacker_Erik used on his descent from Brothers Lake]

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[Closer look at Cataract Peak; clearly not in shape]

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[Talus slopes used for descent. Pipestone Highline from Fish Lakes to Pipestone Pass is in meadow just left of that semi-frozen tarn]

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[Col directly across used for approach to rarely visited alpine below Deluc Peak. Travel on this side is easy, but drop on the other side is not; there are cliffs, and you need to scramble ~100m up left from the saddle before being able to descend safely (as woodenshoes would advise)]

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[Looking north towards Pipestone Pass. Devon Peak center, Clearwater Mtn behind to its left. Willingdon and Crown right]

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[Closer look at Willingdon / Crown. Won't be in shape till mid August. I kept wondering how Clearwater Pass / Devon Lakes looked like today I must come back soon!]


Coming back was uneventful; it clouded over but views of Bolt Lake were still magnificent:

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[Descending from Mosquito Col back to Bolt Lake]


After descending back to Fish Lakes trail, I made quick supper break already scheming return to this out-of-this-world area, before hiking out back to Icefields for total of ~26km (return) and ~950m vertical, 8 hrs. Map and Elevation Profile:


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And finally answer to question: How much of a shortcut Mosquito Col is? Not as much as expected -- I estimate 40-45 min at most compared to North Molar Pass / Fish Lakes. But scenery is great, and if you have never seen Bolt Lake it is more than worth extra elevation gain/loss. Highly recommended, either as OnB Day Hike or Backpack Route into Siffleur Wilderness


More details with high-res photos and downloadable GPS track here
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Last edited by zeljkok; 07-16-2020 at 08:00 PM.
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 07-15-2020, 11:24 PM
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Unreal... so out-of-this-world it looks you just took a trip to heaven, where no one needs to die
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 07-17-2020, 03:58 PM
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Thanks for an awesome report about a beautiful area! I havenít been here for a few years and need to plan another pack into the Molar Pass area after reading your report. The last time we went in there was a horsefly swarm that emptied Fish Lake camp even though it had been fully booked! We did explore up to the ridge but missed seeing Bolt lake. Thanks again!
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 07-17-2020, 05:32 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mtn.mom View Post
Thanks for an awesome report about a beautiful area! I havenít been here for a few years and need to plan another pack into the Molar Pass area after reading your report. The last time we went in there was a horsefly swarm that emptied Fish Lake camp even though it had been fully booked! We did explore up to the ridge but missed seeing Bolt lake. Thanks again!

Most welcome; lake is awesome day hike, max 7hrs return from Icefields if you don't continue to the col. This is view back as you reach the lake, less than an hour from where you leave Fish trail by that tarn in distance center left
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This is another shot of the lake as I was gingerly making my way across wet snow on the side (didn't feel like slipping and sliding in that freezing water lol)
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 07-18-2020, 02:22 AM
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Beautiful set of photos; first class scenics as always.

The lines of snow, rock, green, and blue make up for sweet colour combinations in your pictures.


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Hiking is what keeps you young of mind and heart. When the going gets tough, the tough get going..............
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 07-18-2020, 05:59 PM Thread Starter
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Very good video I want to share. These guys did awesome trip into Devon area; approach via Quartzite col, climbed Willingdon, then Crown (not via horrible snowy ridge from Willingdon that is simply too dangerous but from valley floor that actually looks scramble-able & something I'd be interested in trying as well). On return they hiked Pipestone, ascended Mosquito Col & camped at Bolt Lake, then tomorrow scrambled Bolt Peak and onto Pipestone Peaks (or Mosquito Peak) -- similar ridge traverse Nugara advocates in his guidebook but in reverse. This part starts ~24min mark & is something I am also highly interested in.





Best Devon/Willingdon area youtube movie I've seen by large margin.
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