Buchanan Peak
After visiting the Carthew Lakes area in Waterton National Park on 9 October 2004, I thought I had bagged three of the summits listed in Alan Kane's scrambling guide--Mount Carthew, Buchanan Peak, and Mount Alderson.  Weeks later, I realized that what I thought was Buchanan Peak turned out to be the 2575-metre high point of Buchanan Ridge.  More crushing was the fact that Buchanan Peak's 2409-metre summit was only a few minutes of easy hiking from where I had dropped down into the basin from Buchanan Ridge en route to Mount Alderson.  Being somewhat of a purist, I resolved to return someday to tag Buchanan Peak's summit.

That day turned out to be 24 September 2005 when a large group of scramblers from the Rocky Mountain Books WebForum decided to get together to try and tag all the aforementioned summits in one day.  Although I had previously scrambled with Linda Breton, Vern Dewit, Frank Nelson, and Bob Parr, we were joined by three relative newcomers to the WebForum--Eric Magno, Kelly Smith, and James Yearous.  In terms of background and experience, this was a diverse group, but everyone shared a common passion--bagging peaks.

The group assembled in the Cameron Lake parking lot at around 7:30 AM.  Linda, Frank, Kelly, and James had spent a chilly night at the Waterton townsite campground.  Frank arrived with a migraine but was still keen on coming along.  Linda, on the other hand, had gotten very little sleep and opted to bow out at the parking lot so that she could save herself for another scramble the following day.  We would all miss her infectious laugh.

By 7:50 AM, seven of us were hiking up the trail to Summit Lake which we reached in less than an hour.  From there, we hiked over the ill-named Carthew Summit (the high point of Carthew-Alderson Trail but not the true summit of Mount Carthew) and scampered up the west ridge of Mount Alderson.  Since James and I had previously bagged Mount Alderson, we elected to wait at a high saddle while the rest of the guys continued up to the summit.  Although I originally intended to accompany everyone up to the top, I had a change of heart and felt that re-climbing Mount Alderson would render meaningless my efforts the previous year (ie. I'm just plain lazy).  More practically, I was hoping to save some gas to do Mount Blakiston and Hawkins Horseshoe the following day.  Kelly had brought along a couple of two-way radios and left me one so that I could monitor their progress up the mountain (be sure to check out Vern's, Eric's, and Frank's reports of their ascent up Mount Alderson).

After Kelly radioed me to tell me that the rest of the group had reached Mount Alderson's summit and were on their way down, James and I hiked down a well-beaten path to upper Carthew Lake.  On my way around the middle lake, I met an interesting fly fisherman who had bagged many of the peaks in Waterton and Glacier (US) National Parks.  As he was regaling me with tales of his ascents, he kept catching (and releasing) fish with seemingly little effort.  I wasn't sure what was more amazing--his list of peaks or his streak of fish (not the same fish either)!  Meanwhile, Vern, Eric, and Kelly took a shortcut down from Mount Alderson's west ridge to the east side of the middle lake.  Frank, nursing a bad headache, and Bob, nursing a sprained ankle from a previous scramble, both decided to call it a day and head home.  The remaining five of us regrouped at the north end of the middle lake.

Following the sage advice of Bob Spirko, we hiked down the Carthew-Alderson Trail until we reached an obvious waterfall near the end of Buchanan Peak's south ridge.  Here, we left the trail and scrambled up the ridge.  We encountered few difficulties although Vern livened things up at one point by dislodging a couple of big boulders and sending the rest of us scurrying in all directions.  I guess that's one way to beat the peak-bagging competition!  At 2:10 PM, I was the last one to join the rest of the guys at Buchanan Peak's summit (here are Vern's and Eric's perspectives of the same scramble).  After the obligatory group summit photos, Vern, Eric, Kelly, and James wasted little time before proceeding to their next objective--Buchanan Ridge (another report from Vern; also check out how Vern, Eric, Kelly, and James fared on Mount Carthew at the end of the day).  I accompanied them briefly just to tag the last bump of any significance along Buchanan Peak's summit ridge.  After parting company, I headed back down the south ridge and eventually regained the Carthew-Alderson Trail.  A long and boring plod through forest had me back at the townsite campground by 5:30 PM, but it took me awhile before I found Linda and a fresh change of clothes.  Kelly and James showed up much later (Vern and Eric headed home) hungry and tired but obviously delighted with their accomplishments that day.

This was a most atypical group scramble with people unexpectedly joining in and dropping out throughout the day (me included).  Yet, if nothing else, this trip proved once again that scramblers, regardless of where they are from or what they have done, are a good-humoured and easy-going bunch who amazingly can still derive a lot of fun from a lot of pain and suffering (their own, that is, although misery does love company...)!
Linda snapped this photo of guys brimming with testosterone! Gathered in the Cameron Lake parking lot are (L to R) James, Bob, Vern, Sonny, Kelly, Frank, and Eric.
It's turning out to be a gorgeous day in Waterton Park. Chapman Peak is reflected in Summit Lake.
Bob (foreground) sprained his ankle the previous week on Mount Tecumseh. The group makes its way up the well-graded Carthew-Alderson Trail.
It's about a two-hour hike from Cameron Lake to get here. The group stops to admire the views from Carthew "Summit" (2311 metres).  The real summit of Mount Carthew (2630 metres) is the snowy knob at upper right.
An easy ascent, especially when there isn't a blizzard! The group begins heading up the west ridge of Mount Alderson.
I wonder what Frank is eating... While the others continue up the ridge, Frank stops for a bite, and Bob checks his gear.  The summit of Mount Alderson (2692 metres) is visible at upper right.
James is from Lethbridge, Alberta. James admires the middle of the three Carthew Lakes.  Buchanan Peak dominates the background.
Pretty larches! Vern, Kelly and Eric descend the trail below Carthew Lakes in order to access Buchanan Peak's south ridge (left).
I'm glad I don't have to go up there today! This is Mount Carthew as seen from Buchanan Peak's south ridge.
Delightful scrambling here! Vern and James climb up the crest of Buchanan Peak's south ridge.
Kelly is from Edmonton, Alberta. Kelly negotiates a small rock step.  Carthew-Alderson Trail can be seen far below at right.
Eric is originally from the Philippines but now calls Calgary home. Eric comes up the ridge crest.  Alderson Lake can be seen down in the valley.
This was roughly where Vern nearly wiped the rest of us out! Vern and Kelly go around a big rock slab.
Going back over Carthew "Summit" doesn't seem so appealing from here! As Kelly grinds up the rubble slope, he is treated to a nice view of Carthew Lakes.
A most impressive cliff! Vern and Eric are almost at the summit of Buchanan Peak.  Mount Blakiston is visible in the distance.
Good thing it's not windy today! James gets close to the edge of the abyss.
Sigh.  From where I dropped down into the basin last year, it would have taken me only a few minutes to come up and tag this "nub"! On the summit of Buchanan Peak are (clockwise from left) Kelly, Vern, Sonny, Eric, and James.  The higher Buchanan Ridge is visible at left.
Likely more fun than hiking back to town on the Carthew-Alderson Trail... The guys are off to scramble up Buchanan Ridge.
Bring a book or a good conversationalist. This valley (Carthew Creek) is Sonny's exit route from Buchanan Peak.  Mount Crandell is visible at left.
I'll be there tomorrow. This is Mount Blakiston as seen from Buchanan Peak.
No bushwhacking required! This is the end of Buchanan Peak's south ridge.
Now, where's Linda? Near the town, Carthew-Alderson Trail allows this fine view of Vimy Peak.