After a brutally long day the day previous, Kaycie and I awoke at our bivy on Carnarvon Lake ready for a much more relaxed day. Thanks to knocking off not only the 11km, 700m gain approach but also the neighboring summits of Mount MacLaren and Shankland (another 11km and 1150m of height gain), we had a much easier second day planned. We would start our day with an easy, short ascent of Mount Strachan and then spend the rest of it lounging around beautiful Carnarvon Lake reading, eating and checking out the lake. We were both really looking forward to it!
After breakfast we slowly made our way back up the headwall behind our camp and onto the lower south grassy slopes of Strachan. There were no difficulties up this slope other than minor route finding around some small cliffs or really loose piles of scree. I've read more than one report which bitterly complains about the scree on all the peaks surrounding Carnarvon Lake, but to be honest I didn't find it that bad and I was in approach shoes the whole time! Scree doesn't have to be a negative if you focus on the beauty all around you as you grind your way up it. For me scree is like skinning up a snow slope. I focus on my breathing and on efficient steps. The worries of the world drop away as I focus solely on my immediate environment. Call me nutso, but I enjoy (most) scree slopes.
[Early morning lighting as we crest the headwall above our campsite.]
[KC takes in the view over Carnarvon Lake. Mount MacLaren rising at center and Strachan at left. ++]
[There is one cliff band running down the lower south slope on Strachan but it can be avoided on either end easily.]
[We ascended a low cliffband just for fun.]
[We gained height very quickly and started getting views of the lake and back towards MacLaren and Shankland. ++]
The views of Carnarvon Lake improved as I walked closer to the edge of the south ascent slope and as we gained height our views in every direction became better and better. Once again we were very lucky to experience little or no smoke. The wind was also much calmer in the morning and the air was nice and fresh. Within 2 hours of leaving the campsite we were on top of Strachan.
[KC and the lake.]
[Cresting the upper south ridge.]
[Easy terrain to the summit at upper right.]
[Views west to Muir SW2 at right and the lower ridge off Shankland that we contoured around the evening previous on our way out from the valley beyond.]
[Fun terrain to the summit.]
[KC gazes down the exposed east face over our Carnarvon Lake approach route, from near the summit. ++]
[KC near the summit.]
I knew we had many hours of daylight ahead of us so we took our time at the summit, including a traverse to the slightly lower west summit with some nice views towards Muir looming over Muir Pond - our destination for the next day. After checking the wx again (cell service at the summit), we knew we were in for a stretch of even nicer weather ahead.
[Great morning views looking north and east off the summit. Muir and McPhail at left. ++]
[Mount MacLaren lies to the south.]
[Great views west (L) and north (R) towards Muir SW2, McPhail and Muir (L to R). ++].
[A small tarn between Mount Strachan and Muir.]
[KC on the summit ridge after we traversed to the north summit, which is lower than the main one.]
[Looking past the summit of Muir with Mist in the far background.]
[Great views west over Tuxford and Veits (L) includes Harrison, Minton and Umbria. ++]
[Most of the ascent line for Mount MacLaren is visible here. Neither of the two peaks at right are officially "Shankland" but both are part of that peak.]
[Mount Harrison - the southernmost 11,000er in the Canadian Rockies.]
[Abby Ridge in the fg with Umbria, O'Neil and Ingram in the distance.]
[Bleasedell with Marconi and Minton in the distance.]
[Mount Cadorna, Battisti and Stilleto Peak.]
The descent was super quick and easy. We wandered back into camp just as the other group was packing up to head out after their weekend of camping. We enjoyed a very relaxing rest of the day on Sunday. KC read her book for hours on end, while I read mine one hour at a time and explored the area in between.
[Great views down the south ridge / face to Carnarvon Lake and Mount MacLaren and Shankland. ++]
[An elaborate cairn with Muir SW2 in the distance.]
[KC on the lower mountain.]
We needed to be rested and ready for our traverse to Weary Creek Gap over Mount Muir the following day. That night, just as we crawled into the mid, two pretty intense thunderstorms rolled over us back-to-back. That was pretty neat - we felt pretty small and alone now that everyone else was gone from the area! Eventually the lightning died off and we fell into a contented sleep in the cool, refreshed air.