Carthew Minor II, Mount Carthew II and The Carthew Lakes

August 5, 2014

Solo scramble.

Mountain heights:                           2330 m, 2630 m
Elevation gain:                                quite a bit!
Ascent time to Carthew Minor:       2:20

Traverse time to Mount Carthew:   1:10
Descent time:                                  who knows?!

My first trip up this minor outlier of Mount Carthew was a thoroughly enjoyable winter snowshoe trip, in 2010. Curious to see how the trip would unfold without snow, I set out on the Summit Lake trail. After visiting the lake and then leaving the trail to bushwhack to the base on the ascent ridge, I scrambled over an interesting field of massive, red argillite boulders to gain the ridge. This section was very cool, but nothing compared to what awaited.
Initially I stayed near the ridge. However, there appeared to be some interesting blocks of more red rock to the left and that’s where I ended up – in the “Garden of Red Argillite” – a name I applied to this small, but stunning area of stacked blocks of the colourful rock. After a lengthy exploration of the Garden, I made my way easily to the summit, a short distance away.
With relatively clear skies, the summit view was awesome – in some ways superior to that of much taller Mount Carthew. This is due to the fact that the view from Minor includes several lakes that disappear from sight as you approach the summit of Carthew.
Initially, I thought this to be the end of the line, as the downclimb to the col between Carthew Minor and the false summit of Mount Carthew appeared to be way beyond scrambling. Closer inspection, however, revealed a potential route down and in fact the downclimb turned out to be moderate scrambling only, with some exposure. And of course the red argillite rock was superb throughout!
Once down, a thoroughly enjoyable traverse over to the false summit and then to the true summit of Mount Carthew ensued. This was a rather nostalgic part of the trip, Carthew and Alderson being my first scrambles in Waterton, back in 2004. I finished the day with a little side-trip to the magnificent Carthew Lakes. Unfortunately, returning via Cameron Lake was my only way to get back and so I opted out of going all the way down to equally scenic Alderson Lake.  
Winter or summer, a wonderfully scenic and interesting route to a magnificent viewpoint!
Note: several months after the trip I discovered that Alan Kane does briefly mention this route to Carthew Minor and then to Mount Carthew in his Scrambles book.  

Summit Lake

Carthew Minor doesn't look that impressive from afar

The initial boulder field

The Garden of Red Argillite

Cameron Lake makes an appearance. Mounts Kintla and Kinnerly in Glacier National Park are the distant peaks in the centre

Back on the ridge and enjoying more red argillite scenery. The traverse to the false summit of Carthew at the right

The summit of Carthew Minor

Some of the great scenery from the downclimb

Looking back at Carthew Minor and the downclimb

Onward to the false summit of Mount Carthew

Mount Carthew from the false summit

Carthew Minor (middle left) suddenly looks quite small

The traverse from the false summit to the true summit is super scenic, because of the Carthew Lakes and Mount Alderson (far right)

From near the summit, Mount Alderson looks incredible

Heading down to The Carthew Lakes

Colourful inukshuks!

Returning to Carthew Summit (the low col between the false summit of Mount Carthew and a slightly higher point to the south)

A last look at the amazing rock colours of Alderson