After scouting out a potential route up Mount Carthew's north side from Buchanan Ridge it was time to try out the theory! While Kelly waited with James, Eric and I headed up the first cliff band just to see how things were and to get a bit closer to the traverse which looked kind of nasty from head-on. There was excellent scrambling up the first band of cliffs. We moved quickly over the dry rock and soon were looking at the traverse and the second cliff band.
The traverse looked decent but the cliffs above us looked really nasty. There was snow and ice on the rock and even if dry it would have been pretty difficult to get up there. The decision was made pretty quickly to try the traverse across the north face of Carthew to the northwest ridge - even though it meant another height loss. We yelled back to the others to come on up and Eric and I started across. The traverse was pretty tame and soon I was on the easy northwest ridge leading up to the summit of Carthew.
[The descent route off Buchanan Ridge from the Buchanan Ridge / Carthew col.]
[The first cliff bands start here, and you can see the second cliff bands in the middle of the photo. We traversed just below the snow beneath the second cliff bands.]
[Eric likes to take as many photos as he can - a good way to ensure that you get some really good ones!]
[The traverse doesn't look as bad when you're almost done it - this is looking back along the north face of Carthew. You lose elevation but it works and we wouldn't have summitted without doing it.]
[Buchanan Ridge is seen in the upper left and the traverse to the cliff bands goes to the right.]
The funny part about some scrambling routes is that often you look at them and think that it's going to take you forever to do them when in reality it only takes you a few minutes. The northwest ridge of Carthew was that kind of route. After the traverse it only took us about 40 minutes to reach the summit, even though we were going pretty darn slow by this point! At some point I had to lean on my poles every 2 minutes for about 10 seconds before I could force myself to take another step.
Eventually we were all standing on the last summit of the day - that felt pretty good! The sun was getting lower in the sky by the minute so we didn't have long to linger before heading back down to the parking lot. Of course we still had about 7.5km to hike down and that did seem to take a while. Good conversation and a quick pace and we were done.
[The route up the easy northwest ridge to the summit of Carthew as seen from the end of the traverse below the second cliff band.]
[As evening draws closer the summit views are still incredible. Summit cornice on Mount Carthew.]
[Buchanan Ridge and part of the traverse towards Mount Carthew.]
[Mount Alderson ascent route and summit as seen from the summit of Mount Carthew. Mount Custer at center in the distance.]
[The summit of Mount Carthew.]
[The group descends off the summit of Mount Carthew.]
[The south descent ridge from the summit of Mount Carthew as seen from the descent.]
[Our descent route goes straight down to the col and then down to the main trail.]
[The setting sun puts the glare on us as we trudge back to the Cameron Lake parking lot.]