“Carthew Minor”, 8 October 2022

“Carthew Minor” (2330 m) as viewed from the summit of Mount Alderson. This interesting high point at the end of Mount Carthew’s southwest ridge was a quick, but fun add-on to my day.

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After saying goodbye to Craig and Alisa, I set off on my traverse over to “Carthew Minor”, which sits at the end of Mount Carthew’s southwest ridge. Nicely described by Andrew Nugara in, More Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies“Carthew Minor” is easy to miss despite the heavy traffic that passes beneath it along the Alderson / Carthew trail. However, as Andrew notes, “this innocent looking bump” (p. 72) is comprised of bright red argillite that always makes for interesting scenery. Of course, the other attraction for me on this beautiful October day, was the small section of larches that sit along the ridge in front of it. I could see them from the trail earlier in the day and I was hoping that they still had enough needles so their golden-yellow colour could be enjoyed – and for the most part they did!  Undoubtedly, adding “Carthew Minor” to my Alderson trip ended up being a good choice. 😁

I used Alan Kane’s route from, Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies, to ascend Alderson and then did the reverse of Andrew Nugara’s “Carthew Minor” to Mount Carthew ridge walk in, More Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies. The only exception to Nugara’s route, was that I traversed across the south-facing slope of Carthew from the highest point on the Alderson / Carthew trail. This saved me having to gain the false summit of Carthew, but who knows, maybe that would have been just as quick. 🤔

In short, from the Waterton townsite, I followed the Akamina Parkway for ~14 km to its terminus at Cameron Lake. From the parking lot, the trail began to the left of the docks and from the trailhead to Summit Lake it was a 4 km hike (280 m elevation gain), followed by a 3.6 km hike (359 m elevation) to the Alderson / Carthew trail summit.

A short descent (50 m elevation loss) brought me to the base of Alderson. From here it was mostly a hike for the next ~2.5 km (381 m elevation gain) to the summit. There were two down-climbs, the first being entirely avoidable if desired and the second, along a beaten path through a rock band shortly before the summit.

From the summit, I returned the same way and regained the apex of the Alderson / Carthew trail. I then traversed for ~700 m across the south-facing slope of Mount Carthew to its connecting ridge with “Carthew Minor”. Though not terrible, the traverse wasn’t great either, with several sections of loose scree.

Once on the ridge, it was a very pleasant trip to the base of “Carthew Minor” where I scrambled up good, but exposed rock to the summit. From there I returned to the trail via a reverse of Nugara’s “Carthew Minor” Summit Lake route and then back to my car.

My total distance travelled was 22 km and my total roundtrip time was 7 hours and 30 minutes. Total elevation gains came in at 1444 m.

My traverse from the apex of the Alderson / Carthew trail will go above the herd of sheep.

I’m not going to say that the ~700 m traverse was good, but it wasn’t bad either. There were a few annoying sections of loose scree, but otherwise, it didn’t take much effort to get over to the ridge. At any rate, it sure beat hiking up to the false summit of Mount Carthew.

Almost on the ridge. I couldn’t believe how warm – and how windless – it was for October.

Looking back at my traverse beneath the false summit of Carthew.

Smooth sailing from here.

On the ridge and heading towards some larches.

As it was near the end of larch season, some had lost their ‘pop’…

While others were still glowing.

A fine specimen.

Beautiful weather and golden larches are a win every time. 😁

I encountered more larches the closer I got to “Carthew Minor”.

Glancing back to the summit of Mount Alderson (centre).

This little bump looked to be an interesting scramble.

Looking towards Summit Lake.

A red argillite summit and golden larches – another perfect combination. 😁

Arriving at a series of pinnacles.

Looking back along the ridge.

Climbing up to the pinnacles.

A closer look at the pinnacles.

The view onto the north side of “Carthew Minor” after I climbed through a small gap between the pinnacles and the summit.

Looking up to the summit from the gap. The route goes straight up from here.

Another look at the route after starting. It’s exposed but the rock is great.

The view down and along the route from the top.

The summit of “Carthew Minor” (2330 m).

I was surprised to see one of Ephraim’s summit registers on top.

A pano to the northeast…

And now one to the south.

Gazing to the southwest…

and finally, to the west.

A closer look at Mount Carthew and its connecting ridge with “Carthew Minor”.

Looking over at Mount Alderson, where I had just come from.

A good look at Ruby Ridge.

Piinaquiium / Ahkoinimahstakoo (Mount Blakiston) is the highest peak in Paahtómahksikimi (Waterton National Park).

Looking across to Mount Lineham

And now to Mount Rowe.

My other option for the day, Forum Peak (left of centre) and Akamina Ridge (right). If the weather holds, I may be back before the end of October… Edit: Done! 😁

Gazing over to Mount Custer.

The view down to Summit Lake.

One of a few items inside the register.

One last look at the summit before leaving.

I had the option to follow the ridge for a bit and then make my way to the trail…

However, I opted to use Andrew’s Summit Lake route so that I could check out the pinnacle he describes.

Getting closer to the pinnacle.

It was definitely a cool formation.

A closer look at the pinnacle.

Descending through the boulder field.

Glancing back at the pinnacle.

I will descend to the trail (left) from a low point on the ridge.

One more look back.

Back on the trail.

Looking back to the Alderson / Carthew trail summit.

Arriving back at Summit Lake.

Though it was mid-afternoon, the water was still calm. Having an October day remain this calm is unusual in southwestern Alberta.

A good view of “Carthew Minor” as I begin the quick, 4 km hike back to my truck.

I always enjoy an easy descent!

Cameron Lake was also uncharacteristically calm.

There’s a special beauty that comes with sun-bleached trees.

My attempt to capture sunlight on the forest floor.

The final section of trail near the lake.

Arriving back at the Cameron Lake boat launch.

For such a beautiful day on the Thanksgiving long weekend, I was surprised at how few vehicles were in the parking lot. Though I don’t do a lot of solo trips, I really enjoyed this one; yet somehow my hyper-extroversion was still able to include some new hiking partners in Craig and Alisa. 😂 It feels good to finally get Mount Alderson off my list with “Carthew Minor” as an added bonus. Hopefully the nice weather continues for a while longer, as it would be good to get in a few more peaks before we have to start packing axes, crampons, and snowshoes.

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