Mount Alderson and Mount Carthew July 12, 2004  

Mount Alderson height:                     2,692 m (8,832 feet)
Mount Carthew height:                      2,630 m (8,629 feet)
Elevation gain to Alderson:               1,100 m
Elevation loss and gain to Carthew:  500 m loss; 430 gain
Ascent time to
Mount Alderson        2:45
Traverse time to Carthew:             
Descent time from Carthew:           

Solo scrambles.

My first scrambles in Waterton and they were fantastic. The aspect of the trip that struck me the most was the amazing colours: beautiful turquoisey blues and greens of numerous alpine lakes; the staggering variety of rock colours all around; the greens of forests and meadows; a touch of white, where the snow remained on the faces of some peaks; and to top it all off, a blue sky on a cloudless day.

My initial plan was to do Mount Alderson , camp for the night and then try to do one or two more scrambles the following day. As luck would have it (and a pretty fearsome hiking pace in sneakers), I was able to bag Alderson and Carthew and still make it back to the campsite by 7:30 pm – not bad, considering I started the trip at 1 pm. Actually, like the Fortress and Gusty Peak in Kananaskis, Alderson and Carthew lend themselves very well to be completed in a s ingle trip and it almost seems pointless to make two separate trips (the long approach trail it not exactly a stunner!). I guess if I was really thinking, I would have left myself enough time to traverse over to Buchanan Peak from Carthew. However, even then the 18 km walk back up the Akamina Highway to retrieve the car, would have been less than thrilling after about 2000 m of elevation gain and 25 + km of hiking/scrambling.

Without boring you (or me) with all the details, I hiked 4.5 km to Summit Lake (nicely back-dropped by Chapman Peak – only 4 km away, but lying in a different country (America, for those of us who are geographically challenged)), took a left at the sign for Carthew Summit, hiked another 3.6 km to the Carthew/Alderson col, I found myself looking at a stunning view of Mount Alderson. Along the way there were terrific views of Chapman Peak with Lake Wurdeman below and lush meadows and forest in between the lake and the Carthew trail. The more craggy peaks of Glacier National Park (the American side of Waterton National Park ) were also a very pleasant surprise.

The ascent of Alderson was easy and interesting. A couple of drop-offs were easily avoided - the first on the left, the second on the right. Throughout, the colours of the various types of rock were fantastic, as was the summit panorama.   

After a brief stay at the summit, I returned to the Alderson/Carthew col and then an easy hike took me to Carthew’s summit. Although the summit view was not as good as that of Alderson, it did offer that classic shot of Alderson’s steep north face, with Alderson Lake below. The return trip was relatively short, easy and uneventful. If you feel comfortable hiking in them, this is definitely a good trip to wear running shoes to improve your speed.   

A great first experience in Waterton and a wonderful scramble.













Chapman Peak and Lake Wurdemann (in the U.S.A.!)


A first look at multi-coloured Mount Alderson


Another look at some magnificent colours on Alderson


Looking back from Alderson's ascent route towards peaks in Glacier National Park


Looking north from the summit. The red peak is Bertha Peak (I think??)


The summit of Mount Carthew, as seen from Alderson's summit



The Carthew Lakes



Mount Alderson and Alderson Lake, as seen from Mount Carthew