On Friday March 10, 2011, John Elford, Waterton couple Dan
and Martina, and I skied from the Cameron Lake winter trailhead (called
Little Prairie) to Cameron Lake, up the normal summer Summit Lake Trail to the
saddle above Cameron Lake and then south to Summit Knob. Chick Scott, a famous touring skier, says
that the downhill is the dessert but the meat and potatoes is up. I always liked dessert better and alpine
tour skiing is no different. I took two
and a half hours to get up and one hour to get back to the truck.
Parks Canada rated the avalanche danger as
considerable. The next day we tried to
do the Alderson Carthew trail but after looking at the snow to the summit we
decided just to ski back to Cameron Lake as we were not sure the slope getting
to the summit would hold and we a little concerned about the slope we could not see going into upper Carthew and
the slope after lower Carthew going in Alderson.
The following picture is a picture of the
Parks Canada sign marking the Little Prairie trail head.
The only area rated dangerous on the map
that we were in is the slope down to Cameron Lake. You will notice that Summit Nob (on the left
slope of the lake and just above the summer summit trail also known as the
Carthew-Alderson Trail) is not in the avalanche danger.
next day we tried to do the Alderson Carthew trail but after looking at the
snow to the summit we decided just to ski back to Cameron Lake as we were not
sure the slope getting to the summit would hold and we a little concerned about
the slope we could not see going into upper Carthew and the slope after lower
Carthew going in Alderson. (The summit
which overlooks the Carthew Lakes is just off the Park Canada Avalanche map to
the far upper left of the map.) A great shot of what we were looking at for
avalanche danger is in the two pictures below. The first picture is the actual summit that
is the far right side of the second picture.
We considered staying just below the rock crops but thought it may slide
above the rock crops. You will notice the actual summit is windswept. The issue was getting there.
I took a picture of the 3-D map at the
Cameron Lake visitors centre, which shows the route we wanted to take roughly
along the summer summit trail.
The entire trip takes about 4 ½ hours by
the time you have lunch and take pictures.
It takes 40 minutes to Cameron Lake, one hour to the start of the climb
up the ridge to the summit saddle and an hour to an hour and a half up to
It was a warm day; 9 Celsius (48
Fahrenheit) but a lot of snow. We can
tour at least until the first of June.
It was a sunny day but some wind.
The day for us always starts at the
Waterton Lakes Lodge (which rents skis) to get a lunch.
The climb is tough for a fat old man (now
50) but the rewards are worth it and the exercise needed.
At the top of Summit Knob, you can see the
skiing on Forum Ridge, which is on the West side of Cameron Lake. The ski trail ends on
Cameron Lake as well. The trail head is
at the washrooms as you come into Cameron Lake.
The skiing was heavy, unless in the trees,
where the snow was much better.
On the way home on the second day, John
jumped off the visitor centre.
Coming off of the Cameron slope to the lake
makes for a much easier trail home.