Sonny sent me an email on Monday saying that he was planning to do a scramble on Friday evening and wondering if I was interested. Duh! Of course I was! Since I had family stuff on Saturday this worked out perfect for me.
We decided that Dolomite Peak was a nice objective and late Friday afternoon found us toiling up Dolomite's rubbly approach. One note on getting to the 'correct' (there's several) avalanche gully: You have to cross the creek and walk another 15 minutes or so down the obvious trail before you can see the route up. The picture in the scrambles book is NOT taken from the parking area! The actual peaks are to the left of the peaks you see from the car.
The scramble up to the fun stuff is pretty dull but we did have very nice views back to the Cirque Lake area and the South end of Bow Lake. After getting up near the base of the higher cliff bands we noticed a flash of red ahead of us and assumed that someone was coming down. Soon we realized that the flash of red wasn't going down it was going up! We dismissed it and hoped that whoever it was knew enough to not shower us with rocks. About 10 minutes later a nice little rock fall dispelled that pleasant wish and from then on we were careful to stay higher up on the left and out of the gully.
[Sonny surveys the avalanche gully that we want to ascend from the valley bottom.]
[The red line shows our approximate route up the avalanche gully. It may or may not still be there by the time you do this scramble though.]
[Sonny labors up the loose slopes of Dolomite with a view of Cirque Peak opening up in the background.]
After getting up to the first solid rock of the climb we noticed three people ahead of us. The disturbing thing was that they appeared to be quite naked. I assumed that maybe they were wearing flesh-colored clothing. This assumption was not entirely correct.
Coming up to the final ascent gully was a little unnerving for me because I realized that with the three guys ahead of us rock fall was a serious hazard. I am buying a helmet sooner then later - that's a fact. We headed up the steep gully and made a few nifty moves to get over a very wet rock shelf that is probably usually bone dry for most ascents. We then met up with a sight that I hope is not a new climbing trend! Three young men in tight red thongs climbing with nice little white helmets, hiking boots and gaiters along with very sheepish grins. One of them shrugged and offered, "I can't possibly explain any of this." Yeah - I bet. :)
It turned out that only their fearless leader had made the fourth peak (summit) and the other two weren't experienced scramblers so they didn't quite make it. They should have gone all the way since they were over most of the hard scrambling but oh well! Sonny and I shook our heads in amazement at what we had just encountered and kept heading up. All in a days work.
When you do the summit - don't head up the first 'obvious' crack. There is actually a cairn showing the way around the cliff band to the right and after some tight negotiating under an overhanging rock you can get to the summit pretty easily. We snapped some photos and headed off to the third peak. The third peak is a bit of tricky route-finding but again - don't go up the first obvious spot. Work your way around to climber's left and then up a crack and over a to a ledge. It's hard to explain but you should get it if you've done scrambling before!! Or you can do what Sonny did and try to bag every high point along the way. :-)
[It's as loose as it looks!]
[This is where the scrambling gets difficult.]
[Sonny stands beneath the summit cliffs on the 4th peak. This is where you should traverse to the right before heading up.]
[Sonny goofs around on the summit of Dolomite Peak.]
[Vern and Sonny on the summit of Dolomite.]
[Cirque Peak is across the Icefields parkway from Dolomite. It's also a much simpler mountain to summit! ]
[The third peak and my route from the fourth peak summit.]
After a nice break with no wind and gorgeous clear evening skies we headed back down the mountain. The scree wasn't as 'soft' as we were expecting but other then that there were no problems. The creek was a very nice break for the feet on the way back and we made it to the car with no problems at all. Another great scramble - this one with some unexpected views...
[Crowfoot Mountain and glacier from the descent of Dolomite.]