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Thread: AB Cen = Alberta Rockies Central (Banff & David Thompson) South Dolomite Pass
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post #1 of (permalink) Old 09-09-2021, 12:16 AM Thread Starter
zeljkok
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Default South Dolomite Pass

Earlier this year on snowshoe ascent of Dolomite Shoulder, I noticed intriguing col between Watermelon S2 and Dolomite Peak
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Closer Look:



How to get there? Bit of research yielded two possible approaches, first via drainage from Mosquito Creek trail and second from Dolomite Pass on standard Dolomite Circuit starting with popular Helen Lake trail. These 2 can be combined for a loop with 2 vehicles or a bicycle. Being familiar with the later from Alice Lake trip - and knowing what photography opportunities it might offer late in the day - I quickly discarded Mosquito option, likely rough and overall inferior. Excellent trail quickly brought me into familiar alpine with classic views of Helen Lake and Cirque Peak I ascended 3 times so far, last time in August '20. Without stopping I quickly ascended to "Helen Lake Summit" and then scenic overload began; this has to be one of most delightful alpine areas on the Icefields. Cameras came out and pace slowed down 10-fold. As added bonus, had it entirely to myself as crowds stopped at Helen Lake. Beautiful Katherine Lake, Moonscape Boulders at Dolomite Pass, several smaller lakes and then easier than expected climb to the col -- let's call it "South Dolomite Pass". Basically you leave Dolomite Circuit at Dolomite Pass and head south to visible col. It was entirely off trail, and looking from below I was not sure how easy it would be, but it was entirely easy hiking. Parked my behind at little ridge above the pass, then slowly returned the same way with planned timing of being by Katherine Lake at sunset. Gods were merciful and I had excellent light conditions. Photo story:


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[Alpine Meadows at their prime approaching Katherine Lake below Dolomite Peak]


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[Out of this world - moonscape boulders approaching Dolomite Pass]


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[Lovely Tarn at Dolomite Pass - trail stays to the north, but I simply dropped down and circled on south shoulder of Dolomite Peak]


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[Easy ascent slopes to South Dolomite Pass; about 2km and ~250m vertical. You can go pretty much anywhere, I stayed initially in drainage in center, then transferred to climber right side. Journey eventually ended at little shoulder above the Pass, upper center right]


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[Rarely seen Dolomite Glacier; obsessed with peakbagging people trash loose talus slopes from the west, while real scenic rewards are on the other side. The obvious bench can easily be hiked to and it hosts several small tarns; if I started earlier I'd have done it]


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[View south from ridge above "South Dolomite Pass"; this confirmed my original assumption that approach from this side would be much more tedious]


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[Mount Hector telephoto; one of main landmarks in this part of Icefields. Lined up left to right in front are Noseeum, Andromache and Little Hector, peaks I ascended at a time when such things mattered]


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[Directly east of the Pass; Talus slopes of Watermelon S2 (also called "Oxo" or "Puzzle" peak in some circles). Scramble route is one of these gullies to the left. It is very lose, difficult and dangerous -- entirely not worth]


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[Descending back from South Dolomite Pass with great views of Watermelon Outlier and length of valley Dolomite Circuit traverses before turning corner up Siffleur / Pipestone. Quill / Conical in the distance]


And then - the reward! These next couple of shots illustrate why I hike. When you are obsessed with goal you simply can't time your hike for such things, or might even not notice them. Delightful tarn just before Dolomite circuit drops down and simply superb light conditions:


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As if this wasn't enough -- even bigger treat back at Katherine Lake!

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Final shot is from Helen Lake Summit; not as good as Katherine shots but still a bit of color remaining
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Had to pull out headlamp as I rounded shoulder below Crystal ridge, but this last bit was small price to pay for afternoon / evening sensory overload. I didn't bring GPS so I don't have exact stats, but I estimate ~24km return with ~800-900m vertical; 7 hrs. This is one area I will return again and return often.


Full trip report with more images here

Last edited by zeljkok; 09-10-2021 at 09:49 PM.
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