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Carnarvon, Mount

Summit Elevation (m): 3040
Elevation Gain (m): 1800
Round Trip Time (hr): 8
Total Trip Distance (km): 18
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 3 – you fall, you break something
Difficulty Notes: This is large mountain with many areas of loose scree and exposure. It often has snow / ice on the route so take necessary precautions.
GPS Track DownloadDownload GPX File
Technical Rating: SC7; YDS (3rd)
Map: Google Maps


On Friday, September 03 2010 I completed my last ‘Kane scramble’ with EricMarko and Greg. Mount Carnarvon was looking like it would be my last Kane peak for a while and when I tallied up the remaining 11 peaks at the beginning of 2010 I picked it as the last one. I could not have timed it better! The summer of 2010 has been a drizzmal affair with late summer conditions and then early snow and ice. A week previous I was on Walcott and Burgess looking towards Carnarvon and crossing my fingers that it wouldn’t snow any more until I completed it. Thankfully the snow went elsewhere for the following week!

Mount Carnarvon Route Map

The weather forecast was calling for a gorgeous day on Friday and for once it actually delivered what it promised. I was a bit nervous starting out from the trail head. A nasty head cold was threatening to slow me down and a lot of people knew I was on my last peak. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel some amount of pressure to complete it successfully! It was a pleasure to finally meet Marko Stavrik. I’ve been in email contact with him for years and to finally engage a summit with him was good fun. He took along a work friend, Greg Ng and we were joined at the trail head by Eric Coulthard, a friend of ours from Edmonton.

A very calm, serene view of Hamilton Lake with Top Hat at the center and Carnarvon on the left. Emerald Peak on the right.

At around 08:50 we left the Emerald Lake parking lot, up the Hamilton Lake trail. Eric set a blistering pace and soon we were sweating buckets. A great thing about this scramble is that half of the 1800 meters of height gain is spent on a well-graded trail that wastes no time in gaining height. Right from the parking lot to Hamilton Lake – it’s a grind the whole way. The only not-so-nice aspect of the trail is that there are very few views until just before the lake. The views come in droves after that though.

Greg comes up the south ridge with Hamilton Lake below and Top Hat (L) and Emerald (R) visible.

A mere 1.5 hours after leaving the parking lot we were photographing a very calm and serene Hamilton Lake with reflections of Carnarvon painting its surface. After a short while at the lake (a worthwhile destination on its own), we started up the grassy east side of Carnarvon’s south ridge. We still had almost 1000 meters of height gain to go, even after gaining almost 900 meters to the lake.

The ridge ahead belies the size of this peak. It’s much further than it appears here.

The remaining scramble to the summit was very enjoyable. At every difficult junction there were two options. One option was to look for a faint trail or obvious cairns on climber’s left, around the obstacles.

Greg negotiates a section of ridge.
Eric on the ridge.
Topping out on another section of ridge – note the cairns. Looking west to the Van Horn Range.

The second option was to tackle the difficult terrain head-on. Despite some claims that Carnarvon is a moderate scramble if all the left traverses are done I disagree. I think because of its height gain, terrain and snow/ice gullies Carnarvon should be approached and treated like a difficult scramble that may or may not show its teeth depending on your route-finding ability and your luck with conditions.

Stunning views (including Laussedat) off the traverse.

Once we finally popped out on the summit ridge the others let me go first and I had the opportunity to kiss my last Kane summit cairn. 😀 The views from Carnarvon were outstanding. The cool wind kept our stay fairly short.

The Ottertail Range at left (Goodsirs and Vaux), Van Horne at center and right with the Selkirks (Sir Donald, Sanford) visible in the distance.
Greg enjoys the stunning summit views including the Freshfields at distant left along with Forbes, the Wapta giants at center along with the Presidents and Skoki and Louise Peaks at distant right.
Hector, Daly, Niles, Wapta, Douglas, Ogden, St. Bride and Field among many other less easily recognized peaks.
Laussedat at center with Spike and Redburn at left. Horsey at foreground right.
Looking north to the Freshfield Icefield including Barnard, Mummery and Karakal. The Lyells and Forbes right of center.

The way back was without incident and we spent a good 30 minutes at Hamilton Lake enjoying our success in warm sunshine before tramping back down the trail to the parking lot. I could have spent a couple of hours at the lake and definitely plan on returning for Emerald Peak and Top Hat Peak some time in the future.

Incredible views off the south ridge include Bosworth, Ogden, Wapta, Field, Cathedral, Stephen, Burgess, Walcott, Goodsirs, Vaux and more.
The lovely waters of Hamilton Lake with Emerald Peak rising above.

I could not have picked a better peak for my last Kane scramble. The scrambling, views and approach all combine to vault Carnarvon into my top 10 all time favorite Kane scrambles. My thoughts on finally completing the so-called ‘Kane List’ and peakbagging in general can be read here.

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