Steven Song's Peak-bagging Journey

Home > Field / Yoho > Mount Carnarvon

Mount Carnarvon

It's late August, and time for some big mountains. When Andrea asked me about this weekend's plan, I threw out my idea, doing 2 of these back to back: Coleman, Chephren, Sarbach, Stephen, Carnarvon, Daly. I let her choose and she picked Coleman and Carnarvon. Okay, this isn't for the faint heart as both mountains are rated as difficult with elevation gain of more than 1700m... Due to the concern of fresh snow, we decided to do Carnarvon on Saturday and Coleman on Sunday. We knew Mount Carnarvon is doable with snow on because Vern, Greg, Eric, and Marko did it with a good amount of snow 2 years ago.

Emerald Lake is a fairly long drive from Calgary, given the good forecast in afternoon, we decided to do a not-so-early start. We met at Lake Louise at 8AM and started shortly after 9AM. This is the second time this summer I had a really hard time at the start of the trip (last time was Mount Edith). I rested for 6 days since last trip (Mount Northover) but I didn't do any warm-up before going up the steep Hamilton Lake Trail, and obviously, I suffered from that. My muscle almost got cramped... Okay, the trail itself is fairly steep and goes on forever. There's very little view along the way, with almost 900m elevation gain. On the positive side, you gotta gain half of the elevation on a well-defined trail. Despite my not-so-good physical condition, we still managed to get to Hamilton Lake in just under 1.5 hours. The lake itself is a very good destination as well. I need to mention here, there're 2 more smaller peaks doable from Hamilton Lake, Top Hat Peak and Emerald Peak. Obviously we could combine them with Carnarvon to make a full day, but considering the big mountain on Sunday, it was not a smart idea... I plan to go back to finish these two with a bit of snow on (October maybe). Emerald Peak is included in Nugara Snowshoeing book, and is doable in spring if you're comfortable on avalanche terrain.

After some quick photos we started circumventing the west side of Hamilton Lake. There's a trail but at one point it gets dangerously close to the lake. It reminded me the trail around Aster Lake... We soon started the slog up the lower talus / grass slope. We basically followed the verge of grass, but were using talus actually. The ground wasn't loose so it didn't matter which line we picked. Further up, we encountered a cliff band. We tackled it head-on and got some moderate scrambling for warm-up. After this, I went up towards climber's left aiming for less steep terrain, while Andrea aim further climber's right directly towards the ridge crest. Both ways work out and we made up the ridge at almost the same time.

Once topping out on the south ridge, the view suddenly opened up, towards the west range and Columbia Mountains. I won't show photos now as the weather wasn't good at this point. The upper ridge looks inviting and we soon started up. Given the elevation gain and difficulty, we didn't expect this mountain to be that popular. There were tens of cairns guiding the way. After some moderate terrain, we encountered a cliff band that I could remember from Marko's trip report. We followed a faint path towards a cairn on climber's left and circumvented this band. We re-gained ridge crest by going up a gully afterwards. With good route-finding skill, this mountain is merely a consistent moderate scrambling for 500 vertical meters. Even so you still have to treat it as a difficult scramble, just like considering Mount Fox as a climber's scramble because it has consistent difficult terrain for 600 vertical meters. At one point, we detoured slightly towards climber's right, cut back to ridge crest, then traverse horizontally climber's left aiming for another cairn. We followed cairns further towards left and re-gained the ridge by a long loose gully. This part sucks and reminds me about the scree-bashing on Storm Mountain Banff... Now we were treated with a snow field / glacier on the east side of the ridge, and the summit wasn't far by this point.

Once on the summit, the view towards Wapta Icefield suddenly showed up. Awesome view but I didn't get a "Wow" moment because I've done too many mountains in Yoho this August. Kiwetinok Peak to McArthur to Kerr already gave me the similar view of Wapta Icefield and the West Range / Selkirks & Purcells. Wapta Mountain gave me the view of Lake Louise - O'Hara group and Mount Stephen and Vaux, as well. But if Carnarvon is my first peak in Yoho, I would get a big "WOW" moment for sure. The weather was bad due to low ceiling clouds. We had a summit nap and were treated with better views soon.

After the lengthy summit stay, we started moving back. We mostly retrace out steps down except for a few sections where we descended straight down the ridge crest for more fun stuffs. We met a large group of Korean or Japanese scramblers going up. The views were getting better and better as clouds were really lifting up by this time. We used Andrea's ascent gully to descent towards Hamilton Lake. It's pretty steep and loose so I suggest you going further down the ridge and aiming for less-steep terrain. With afternoon sun, Hamilton Lake itself is a good distraction. We took another long break at the Lake. Andrea set up a fast pace descending the Hamilton Lake Trail. The grond is mostly dirt and soft soil which is easier on the knees. The trail really goes on forever and after eternity we broke through the trees and back to parking lot. We went to the nearby Emerald Lake for photos. We felt good on energy so we went to Field information center hoping to bag a permit for Mount Stephen the next day... Too bad they didn't give us as we had to be there 24 hours ahead... Oh okay, we drove all the way up Icefield Parkway towards Rampart Creek Campground then. Mount Coleman next day.

Print all photos for $9.60 | Slideshow
Mount Carnarvon
1
Mount Carnarvon
Order print
30 views
 
Hamilton Falls
2
Hamilton Falls
Order print
43 views
 
3
Order print
51 views
 
Hamilton Lake & Mt. Carnarvon
4
Hamilton Lake & Mt. Carnarvon
Order print
55 views
 
Hamilton Lake
5
Hamilton Lake
Order print
50 views
 
Hamilton Lake
6
Hamilton Lake
Order print
48 views
 
Hamilton Lake
7
Hamilton Lake
Order print
40 views
 
Typical terrain on the lower slope
8
Typical terrain on the lower slope
Order print
33 views
 
Typical terrain on upper ridge
9
Typical terrain on upper ridge
Order print
55 views
 
Upper ridge
10
Upper ridge
Order print
37 views
 
Traverse horizontally following cairns
11
Traverse horizontally following cair…
Order print
39 views
 
Near the summit
12
Near the summit
Order print
41 views
 
Andrea on the summit
13
Andrea on the summit
Order print
37 views
 
Me on the summit
14
Me on the summit
Order print
34 views
 
15
Order print
41 views
 
Mount Gordon
16
Mount Gordon
Order print
38 views
 
Wapta Mtn & Kicking Horse area
17
Wapta Mtn & Kicking Horse area
Order print
45 views
 
Cathedral & Stephen
18
Cathedral & Stephen
Order print
41 views
 
Little Yoho area
19
Little Yoho area
Order print
39 views
 
The Presidents & Emerald Glacier
20
The Presidents & Emerald Glacier
Order print
43 views
 
Kiwetinok Peak & Amiskiwi Valley
21
Kiwetinok Peak & Amiskiwi Valley
Order print
56 views
 
Wapta Icefield
22
Wapta Icefield
Order print
47 views
 
23
Order print
55 views
 
24
Order print
50 views
 
Freshfield Icefield
25
Freshfield Icefield
Order print
38 views
 
26
Order print
48 views
 
27
Order print
69 views
 
Kicking Horse Valley
28
Kicking Horse Valley
Order print
38 views
 
West Range
29
West Range
Order print
42 views
 
West Range
30
West Range
Order print
46 views
 
Stephen & Vaux
31
Stephen & Vaux
Order print
41 views
 
Look back at the summit
32
Look back at the summit
Order print
48 views
 
33
Order print
47 views
 
34
Order print
48 views
 
Descending the upper ridge
35
Descending the upper ridge
Order print
35 views
 
36
Order print
54 views
 
Hamilton Lake
37
Hamilton Lake
Order print
27 views
 
38
Order print
51 views
 
39
Order print
48 views
 
A fun step
40
A fun step
Order print
32 views
 
A fun step
41
A fun step
Order print
34 views
 
Hamilton Lake & Mt. Stephen
42
Hamilton Lake & Mt. Stephen
Order print
21 views
 
Cathedral & Stephen
43
Cathedral & Stephen
Order print
35 views
 
Hamilton Lake
44
Hamilton Lake
Order print
40 views
 
Hamilton Lake & Mt. Stephen
45
Hamilton Lake & Mt. Stephen
Order print
46 views
 
Hamilton Lake & Emerald Peak
46
Hamilton Lake & Emerald Peak
Order print
36 views
 
Top Hat Peak
47
Top Hat Peak
Order print
32 views
 
Hamilton Lake & Emerald Peak
48
Hamilton Lake & Emerald Peak
Order print
49 views
 
Hamilton Lake & Emerald Peak
49
Hamilton Lake & Emerald Peak
Order print
46 views
 
Hamilton Lake
50
Hamilton Lake
Order print
44 views
 
Hamilton Lake
51
Hamilton Lake
Order print
47 views
 
The Goodsirs in background
52
The Goodsirs in background
Order print
39 views
 
Top Hat Peak & Hamilton Lake
53
Top Hat Peak & Hamilton Lake
Order print
34 views
 
Hamilton Lake
54
Hamilton Lake
Order print
34 views
 
Hamilton Lake
55
Hamilton Lake
Order print
36 views
 
Hamilton Lake
56
Hamilton Lake
Order print
45 views
 
Hamilton Lake
57
Hamilton Lake
Order print
44 views
 
Hamilton Lake
58
Hamilton Lake
Order print
43 views
 
Me and Hamilton Lake
59
Me and Hamilton Lake
Order print
37 views
 
Emerald Lake
60
Emerald Lake
Order print
33 views
 
Walcott Peak & Mt. Burgess
61
Walcott Peak & Mt. Burgess
Order print
43 views
 
Emerald Lake
62
Emerald Lake
Order print
36 views
 
63
Order print
31 views
 
Mount Stephen
64
Mount Stephen
Order print
42 views
 
Photos taken by Steven