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Mount Carthew (Southwest Ridge Approach)
Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta
June 8, 2004

Starting from Cameron Lake, Dinah and I followed Carthew trail up switchbacks through the forest to Summit Lake. The usual route keeps to the trail as it runs under the southwest ridge, but we took the shortcut suggested in Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies. A few minutes after the lake, we left the trail and started up the southwest ridge. Here, we scrambled up unusual boulders, a pleasant diversion on an ascent that's mostly a hike. Once on the ridgetop, we followed the crest to the 2630-m summit.

Waterton is notorious for its high winds, and unfortunately we experienced them on Mount Carthew. We were buffeted by strong headwinds as we descended from the summit. Despite running downhill on good scree, wind gusts hit us with such force that we were stopped in mid-stride and forced step by step back up the slope. It was like hitting a wall while running at full speed!

Two weeks earlier, we attempted Carthew using the normal route only to turn back because of bad weather: rain, wind and cold. But this time, other than our experience with the wind, we easily reached the summit and enjoyed taking the shortcut. Our trip covered 18 km and climbed 1000 m.


Hiking up the trail

We passed a tiny waterfall by the trail

Taking the shortcut up the SW ridge. Look for a grass corridor that extends down the trail just before a cliff band, about 10 minutes after Summit Lake.

We soon came across rocks leading to rocky terrain

Within minutes of leaving the trail, the rock stacks came into view

Cameron Lake

Some interesting landscape here

Standing on the rock stacks

Looking back

From the rocks we contoured left because of cliff bands

Looking back at the outcrop that we had go around

Regaining the ridge. False summit appears ahead.

Hiking on lingering snow

Still following the shortcut, heading to the false summit

True summit comes into view

Mount Alderson

On the summit

Cornice just below the summit

Heading back

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