Mount Carthew

August 5, 2015

2633m

Waterton Lakes National Park, AB

Mt. Carthew is one of the easiest scrambles in Waterton Lakes with a very popular trail leading to the alpine and nothing but a scree walk to the summit from its south ridge. But for those doing the Alderson-Buchanan-Carthew traverse it’s a entirely different game. The ascent via Carthew’s N. Ridge is only for the experienced folks comfortable on exposed, difficult scrambling terrain with excellent route-finding skills. Indeed, the connecting ridge looked fairly nasty but after summitting Mt. Alderson and then Buchanan Peak I was there already so had to give it a go.

The traverse loop of Alderson, Buchanan, Carthew

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

Even the descent down from the higher point by Buchanan Peak was not trivial. I should have stayed lower on skier’s right side of the ridge crest but by staying on the crest I had to overcome one awkward and super exposed section near the Buchanan/Carthew col. After this bit of excitement the real fun began as I slowly and steadily overcame one rock band after another. In general the easier line existed on climber’s right side but at least for the first few challenges staying directly on the ridge crest was still manageable, until I hit the crux wall.

Mt. Carthew as seen from the high point by Buchanan

Mt. Carthew as seen from the high point by Buchanan

Almost down to Buchanan/Carthew col now, looking ahead

Almost down to Buchanan/Carthew col now, looking ahead

Looking ahead there’s this one pitch of vertical wall that looked at least mid-5th class climbing. Looking around climber’s left I couldn’t find an obvious way up neither so started traversing (and losing height) towards the right side. Had I gone fully to the right I would hit easier terrain but there’s a place that looked reasonable about midway down the ledge so I started going up. It turned out to be a sustained pitch of 4th/low 5th class climbing so not recommended. On the bright side since I was capable doing these stuffs this was a faster route choice for me. Once above the challenge the rest was relatively straightforward to my 3rd peak of this day.

Looking down the lower cliff that I climbed straight up

Looking down the lower cliff that I climbed straight up

This picture clearly shows the terrain around the lower band

This picture clearly shows the terrain around the lower band

Traversing around climber's right to avoid another difficulty

Traversing around climber’s right to avoid another difficulty

Now what... Ahead was the crux rock band.

Now what… Ahead was the crux rock band.

Looking back I did get some nice views though

Looking back I did get some nice views though

Here's roughly where I ascended up. 1 full pitch of sustained 4th to low 5th class climbing. This picture looks crazy...

Here’s roughly where I ascended up. 1 full pitch of sustained 4th to low 5th class climbing. This picture looks crazy…

Halfway up the crux wall...

Halfway up the crux wall…

Still lots of route-finding

Still lots of route-finding

After the crux pitch, there's still scrambling ahead

After the crux pitch, there’s still scrambling ahead

Summit Panorama from Mt. Carthew. Click to view large size.

Summit Panorama from Mt. Carthew. Click to view large size.

Looking east towards Vimy Peak, Vimy Ridge and Sofa Mountain

Looking east towards Vimy Peak, Vimy Ridge and Sofa Mountain

Bertha Peak

Bertha Peak

Mt. Crandell

Mt. Crandell

Long Knife Peak

Long Knife Peak

Even Cameron Lake showed up!!

Even Cameron Lake showed up!!

Mt. Custer with Numa Peak and Mt. Peabody behind

Mt. Custer with Numa Peak and Mt. Peabody behind

Mt. Cleveland the highest peak in Glacier National Park, Montana

Mt. Cleveland the highest peak in Glacier National Park, Montana

Porcupine Ridge another peak in GNP, MT

Porcupine Ridge another peak in GNP, MT

Looking down at Alderson Lake where I was told a bear was hanging out...

Looking down at Alderson Lake where I was told a bear was hanging out…

Mt. Alderson and Alderson Lake

Mt. Alderson and Alderson Lake

Me on the summit of Mt. Carthew

Me on the summit of Mt. Carthew

I didn’t linger any longer than necessary before starting the descent down the south side. There’s a beaten path leading the way and it was fast going. I thought I had to ascend up and over the false summit but once getting close I saw a path on an obvious scree ledges so went diagonally down. It was nice and easy and soon I joined my mom at Carthew’s shoulder and resumed the descent. We took a few short-cuts down the scree as it’s considerably faster. Once back on the trail the real plod began (7.6 km), but at least mostly down-hill.

Looking down at Carthew Lake

Looking down at Carthew Lake

Carthew Lakes and Mt. Alderson

Carthew Lakes and Mt. Alderson

This is the scree ledge that I used to descend Mt. Carthew

This is the scree ledge that I used to descend Mt. Carthew

Panorama of Carthew Lakes and Mt. Alderson. Click to view large size.

Panorama of Carthew Lakes and Mt. Alderson. Click to view large size.

Another look at Carthew Lakes

Another look at Carthew Lakes

Mt. Alderson my first objective of this day

Mt. Alderson my first objective of this day

Another picture showing the dramatic change of colours on Mt. Alderson

Another picture showing the dramatic change of colours on Mt. Alderson

Time to resume the descent

Time to resume the descent

Scree skiing!!

Scree skiing!!

Back to the Carthew-Alderson Trail

Back to the Carthew-Alderson Trail

Down to Summit Lake now

Down to Summit Lake now

The hike out...

The hike out…

More of the hike out...

More of the hike out…

Down to Cameron Lake, looking towards Mt. Custer and Forum Peak

Down to Cameron Lake, looking towards Mt. Custer and Forum Peak

Tourists on Cameron Lake

Tourists on Cameron Lake

Back to Cameron Lake, I was shocked to see how many tourists were there – at least 100 of them if not more. I don’t know if Waterton is often this busy on a Wednesday or maybe people just came down here to escape the bad weather in central Rockies… Since this was my first time going into the “core” area of Waterton Lakes (the Red Rock Canyon was just on the edge), I did some tourists thing too taking numerous pictures of the Waterton Lakes.

Panorama of Waterton Lake. Click to view large size.

Panorama of Waterton Lake. Click to view large size.

Panorama from near the park's gate. Click to view large size.

Panorama from near the park’s gate. Click to view large size.

Now what?! A long, tiring and tedious drive back to Edmonton… Overall I found Waterton to be a truly gorgeous area and I’d hope to come back sooner than later.

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Comments
  1. Larry says:

    Great photographs. I haven’t been over Carthew Summit in nearly 50 years but your pictures bring back great memories.
    I believe, from Alderson Lake, the cliff (Mt. Alderson) is one of the most spectacular in either park.

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