On Friday, September 03 2010 I completed my last 'Kane scramble' with Eric, Marko and Greg. Mount Carnarvon was looking like it would be my last Kane peak for a while and when I tallied up the remaining 11 peaks at the beginning of 2010 I picked it as the last one. I could not have timed it better! The summer of 2010 has been a drizzmal affair with late summer conditions and then early snow and ice.
A week previous I was on Walcott and Burgess looking towards Carnarvon and crossing my fingers that it wouldn't snow any more until I completed it. Thankfully the snow went elsewhere for the following week!
The weather forecast was calling for a gorgeous day on Friday and for once it actually delivered what it promised. I was a bit nervous starting out from the trail head. A nasty head cold was threatening to slow me down and a lot of people knew I was on my last peak. I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel some amount of pressure to complete it successfully! It was a pleasure to finally meet Marko Stavrik. I've been in email contact with him for years and to finally engage a summit with him was good fun. He took along a work friend, Greg Ng and we were joined at the trail head by Eric Coulthard, a friend of ours from Edmonton.
At around 08:50 we left the Emerald Lake parking lot, up the Hamilton Lake trail. Eric set a blistering pace and soon we were sweating buckets. A great thing about this scramble is that half of the 1800 meters of height gain is spent on a well-graded trail that wastes no time in gaining height. Right from the parking lot to Hamilton Lake - it's a grind the whole way. The only not-so-nice aspect of the trail is that there are very few views until just before the lake. The views come in droves after that though.
[Heading up the trail to Hamilton Lake - just over 5km and much of it quite steep.]
[The trail is well defined but it take a while to get any views.]
[Carnarvon comes into view as we near Hamilton Lake - far off still!]
A mere 1.5 hours after leaving the parking lot we were photographing a very calm and serene Hamilton Lake with reflections of Carnarvon painting its surface. After a short while at the lake (a worthwhile destination on its own), we started up the grassy east side of Carnarvon's south ridge. We still had almost 1000 meters of height gain to go, even after gaining almost 900 meters to the lake.
[A very calm, serene view of Hamilton Lake with Top Hat at the center and Carnarvon on the left. Emerald Peak on the right. ++]
[Heading up grassy slopes to Carnarvon's south ridge.]
[Greg comes up the south ridge with Hamilton Lake below and Top Hat (L) and Emerald (R) visible.]
[It's a grunt to the south ridge!]
The remaining scramble to the summit was very enjoyable. At every difficult junction there were two options. One option was to look for a faint trail or obvious cairns on climber's left, around the obstacles. The second option was to tackle the difficult terrain head-on. Despite some claims that Carnarvon is a moderate scramble if all the left traverses are done I disagree. I think because of its height gain, terrain and snow/ice gullies Carnarvon should be approached and treated like a difficult scramble that may or may not show its teeth depending on your route-finding ability and your luck with conditions.
[This is a heckuva big mountain! This is gazing up the south ridge - the summit not in view yet.]
[Marko gazes at the work in front of us while stunning views open up in every direction. The President Range visible just to the right of Carnarvon. ++]
[More views off the south ridge across to Emerald Peak and down to Hamilton Lake. My final Kane scramble did NOT disappoint with views. ++]
[Looking south off the ridge towards the Ottertail Range including the Goodsir Towers and Mount Vaux.]
[Greg and Eric on the south ridge.]
[The scale of the upper mountain is tough to comprehend. It keeps going and going. At least it's fun, with stunning views.]
[More ridge. You can see a gray band stretching across the ridge above us. Marko went straight up this band, the rest of us followed cairns on a ledge to climber's left around it.]
[Traversing around a cliff band on loose terrain. Note Marko at the top of the photo - he went straight up the cliff instead.]
[Eric tops out (note the cairn to his left) with great views to the west behind him.]
[Greg negotiates a section of ridge. ++]
[Lots of mountain left!]
[Eric on the ridge.]
[Greg starts up another steeper section on the south ridge - Eric and Marko already part way up it.]
[Steep scrambling on loose terrain.]
[Vern on a steep section of ridge. Photo by Marko S.]
[Topping out on another section of ridge - note the cairns. Looking west to the Van Horn Range. ++]
[A steep and exposed traverse across the west face off the ridge to get around some cliffs - following cairns and faint trails.]
[You can spot a cairn ahead and above Marko here on the traverse.]
[Stunning views (including Laussedat) off the traverse. ++]
[Traversing over to the last scree gully before the summit ridge.]
[The final scree gully to the summit ridge.]
[Topping out on the final scree gully.]
[On the summit ridge, heading for the summit cairn which I'm standing near.]
Once we finally popped out on the summit ridge the others let me go first and I had the opportunity to kiss my last Kane summit cairn. :D The views from Carnarvon were outstanding. The cool wind kept our stay fairly short. The way back was without incident and we spent a good 30 minutes at Hamilton Lake enjoying our success in warm sunshine before tramping back down the trail to the parking lot. I could have spent a couple of hours at the lake and definitely plan on returning for Emerald Peak and Top Hat Peak some time in the future.
[Vern gets intimate with his final Kane summit register! :) Photo by Marko S.]
[Views west to the Van Horne Range from the summit of Carnarvon. ++]
[Views north include the Freshfields at left and President Range at center including The President and Vice President. ++]
[Mount Stephen at fg right and Cathedral fg left with Victoria, Huber and Hungabee in the bg.]
[Awesome views to the west include Redburn and McBeath.]
[Mount Laussedat on the right with Sir Sanford in the distance at center.]
[Des Poilus left of center with Collie to its right. Ayesha, Baker, Habel and Rhondda in the far distance.]
[The President and Vice President with Des Poilus on the right.]
[Hector at far left with Daly and Niles beside to the right.]
[View towards Skoki over Mount Ogden.]
[The Wapta Glacier with Hector and Daly on the right. Balfour in the distance at left. ++]
[Looking north to the Freshfield Icefield including Barnard, Mummery and Karakal. The Lyells and Forbes right of center. ++]
I could not have picked a better peak for my last Kane scramble. The scrambling, views and approach all combine to vault Carnarvon into my top 10 all time favorite Kane scrambles. My thoughts on finally completing the so-called 'Kane List' and peakbagging in general can be read here.
[Ready to drop back down the gully from the summit ridge.]
[Traversing back out of the gully to the south ridge.]
[More of the traverse.]
[Back on the south ridge, note the cairns underneath Marko here.]
[Stunning views down the south ridge.]
[More great views over Hamilton Lake towards Lake Louise (L) O'Hara (C) and Ottertail (R) ranges.]
[Wapta Mountain at lower right with its scramble route clearly visible. ++]
[Interesting cliff band on the lower south ridge. ++]
[Eric descends the ridge.]
[Beautiful green meadows near Hamilton Lake.]
[Heading back along Hamilton Lake.]
[Back on the main trail.]
[A pretty waterfall from the Hamilton Lake trail.]