Dolphin Peak

July 10, 2021


Manatee Range, BC

Despite the official status, Dolphin Peak is by no doubt the least impressive in the immediate vicinity of Wahoo Tower and in fact, I have no idea why this bump is even named. It appeared like a walk-up with under 50 m prominence from Oluk/Dolphin col but upon closer inspection I realized that the main challenge would be to gain Oluk/Dolphin col. Earlier in this day Jason, Rob, Ellie and I had ascended Mermaid Peak and Oluk Peak. While sitting on the summit of Oluk Peak the others wisely decided to skip Dolphin Peak to conserve energy for Wahoo Tower the next day, but I insisted on bagging it. My plan for Wahoo Tower was just via the descent route so it’d be a short day anyway.

Our routes on Wahoo Tower and Manatee Range group. GPX DL

The connecting ridge from Oluk Peak down to Oluk/Dolphin col appeared to have a series of towers with unknown difficulties so my plan was to descend snow to about 50 m under Oluk/Dolphin col and then to find a weakness to gain the col. The snow descent was rather easy but then I was struggling to pick a suitable path on the rock. I eventually committed to a route with some down-sloping 4th class terrain on questionable rocks and in retrospect I do believe I did okay in route-finding there. I took a slightly different line on the descent which was not much easier. From the col it’s indeed a plod to the summit of Dolphin Peak.

As you can see, the ridge leading towards Dolphin Peak has so many towers
I descended easy snow ramps beside the connecting ridge
I had to pick a line to gain the ridge on steep and sloppy terrain
Dolphin Peak from Oluk/Dolphin col.
Summit Panorama from Dolphin Peak. Click to view large size.
Looking at the north face of Wahoo Tower
Impressive icefalls in this zone.
Me on the summit of Dolphin Peak

On the descent I took my time to find a different path to hopefully avoid that few 4th class steps but in the end I just had to down-climb a different 4th class step, which was not any easier. Once back onto the snow I could see the others had already started the descent, so I aimed directly towards Oluk/Mermaid col to save unnecessary elevation regain. This meant I had to cut across a small glacier. From the spot where I gained Oluk Peak’s south ridge we regrouped and scrambled back up and over those loose towers on the lower flanks of Oluk Peak, then easily plodded back up to the high notch on Mermaid Peak’s south ridge.

This is the true angle of the route that I ascended and descended
Looking back at that obvious ramp that I used to gain the col
Back onto the south ridge of Oluk Peak now, looking at Wahoo Tower
Ellie plodding back towards Mermaid Peak
Gigantic bergschrund on the glacier east of Mermaid Peak
Traversing steep snow above that bergschrund
Pylon Peak in Meager Group
Back onto the south ridge of Mermaid Peak now, looking ahead

We took a break there discussing our different options. I was not keen on down-climbing the same route we came up on Mermaid Peak and we also knew at least one party had made a “3rd class” ascent via the south ridge, so that’s where we would descend towards. While going down we somehow decided to not use the ridge but rather the face and gullies that were probably easier technically, but considerably looser. The hardest of our descent off Mermaid Peak was to regain the snow/glacier at the very bottom, that a 4th class chossy gully must be down-climbed and that took us a while.

Descending the first loose chute
This is the terrain between the first and second chutes. Very loose
Jason leading down that chossy 4th class step into the second chute
Jason down-climbing steep snow to regain the snowfield/glacier lower down
Looking back at Ellie finishing her down-climb
Back at camp time to dry things off and be ready for Wahoo Tower