Buchanan Peak

August 5, 2015

2412m

Waterton Lakes National Park, AB

Buchanan Peak is a less-impressive summit in Waterton Lakes and draws considerably less amount of interest than its neighbours. Most folks claiming this peak are the hardcore peak-baggers or “Listers” going after Alan Kane’s scramble list. And I should say if you’re not up for those then don’t even bother with this diminished peak. Adding this peak to the nearby Mt. Alderson and Mt. Carthew (to make the ABC loop) will add at least 3 hours with considerable amount of difficult scrambling. I myself isn’t a lister going after Kane’s book, but I am a peak-bagger so skipping Buchanan Peak isn’t an option after summitting Mt. Alderson in the morning.

The traverse loop of Alderson, Buchanan, Carthew

The traverse loop of Alderson, Buchanan, Carthew. GPX DL

There’s some confusion as where exactly Buchanan Peak is. The conclusion I got from various sources was the highest peak behind Mt. Carthew is the high point on “Buchanan Ridge” while the low bump (more like just an extended shoulder) is the official Buchanan Peak. To make sure I can climb this peak I’d have to ascend both just to make sure… And that adds quite a bit more work as that low bump was quite painful to reach. Firstly I had to descend to the two Carthew Lakes on the well-maintained trail but that’s not over yet. I had to keep descending (for a total of 300 vertical meters from Carthew/Alderson col) to the connecting Alderson/Buchanan pass. I met a group of hikers coming up from the Alderson Lake side and they warned me there’s a big bear on this trail. Thankfully by that point I was almost down to the broad pass already so not going to continue any further down to meet that beasty.

Descending towards the upper Carthew Lake from Alderson/Carthew col

Descending towards the upper Carthew Lake from Alderson/Carthew col

Down by the upper Carthew Lake now

Down by the upper Carthew Lake now

Lots of colours around this lake

Lots of colours around this lake

Another look at the upper Carthew Lake

Another look at the upper Carthew Lake

Looking back towards Carthew/Alderson col

Looking back towards Carthew/Alderson col

Panorama of the lower Carthew Lake

Panorama of the lower Carthew Lake

Lower Carthew Lake

Lower Carthew Lake

Another look at the lower Carthew Lake

Another look at the lower Carthew Lake

And, this is my objective - the official Buchanan Peak

And, this is my objective – the official Buchanan Peak

This is the nearby higher peak that I'd also traverse over

This is the nearby higher peak that I’d also traverse over

The trail just kept descending. Still had a lot of height to lose.

The trail just kept descending. Still had a lot of height to lose.

To gain the lower slopes I had a section of short-lived, but very dense bushwhacking to overcome, followed by a section of loose scree to bash up. But thankfully after those painful work the rest was nice and easy. It didn’t take me long to arrive at the official, lower summit of Buchanan Peak.

Ahead was a loose section

Ahead was a loose section

A look at Mt. Carthew. It looks considerably more impressive from this side

A look at Mt. Carthew. It looks considerably more impressive from this side

Looking back at the waterfalls coming down from Carthew Lakes

Looking back at the waterfalls coming down from Carthew Lakes

The upper slope of Buchanan Peak was nice and easy

The upper slope of Buchanan Peak was nice and easy

Almost at the official summit now

Almost at the official summit now

Interesting micro terrain feature just before gaining the summit

Interesting micro terrain feature just before gaining the summit

Summit Panorama from Buchanan Peak. Click to view large size.

Summit Panorama from Buchanan Peak. Click to view large size.

The two Carthew Lakes

The two Carthew Lakes

Chapman Peak by Glacier National Park, MT

Chapman Peak by Glacier National Park, MT

Mt. Blakiston

Mt. Blakiston

Mt. Gelway

Mt. Gelway

Looking ahead to the traverse to the higher peak

Looking ahead to the traverse to the higher peak

Mt. Carthew

Mt. Carthew

Another look at the Carthew Lakes with Chapman Peak behind

Another look at the Carthew Lakes with Chapman Peak behind

Me on the official summit of Buchanan Peak

Me on the official summit of Buchanan Peak

Another panorama from the summit. Click to view large size.

Another panorama from the summit. Click to view large size.

My next business was to ascend the connecting ridge towards the higher, unofficial “Buchanan Ridge”. I think probably the government map was mislabelled as the official summit looked nothing like a separate peak but rather just an extension from this highpoint nearby. But nonetheless since I ascended both I can safely claim this peak now. The connecting ridge to the higher peak had some route-finding through difficult, down-sloping terrain. I tried to stay close to the ridge crest but that’s not easy. I ended up traversing on climber’s left side for a long while before finally could regain the ridge. This summit offered better view than the lower bump, but not much better.

Traversing towards the higher peak. This is the typical terrain

Traversing towards the higher peak. This is the typical terrain

Almost there!

Almost there!

Summit Panorama from the higher, unofficial "Buchanan Ridge". Click to view large size.

Summit Panorama from the higher, unofficial “Buchanan Ridge”. Click to view large size.

Looking down towards the Middle Waterton Lake

Looking down towards the Middle Waterton Lake

Mt. Crandell

Mt. Crandell

Bertha Peak

Bertha Peak

Mt. Alderson my first objective in this day

Mt. Alderson my first objective in this day

Mt. Dungarvan and Mt. Gelway

Mt. Dungarvan and Mt. Gelway

After taking another necessary break I soon focused on the final objective of this day – Mt. Carthew. Its north ridge looked complicated and intimidating but since it’s covered in Kane’s book I doubt I’d have any problem with it.

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