After summiting Mount Alderson we started off for Buchanan Peak. There is a bit of a mix-up regarding this summit because the actual peak is just a shoulder on a ridge and the highest point on the ridge is actually named Buchanan Ridge. A lot of people don't realize this and bag the ridge thinking that they've bagged the summit when they actually haven't. Sonny Bou was one of the unlucky ones who did the entire traverse from Carthew to Alderson and was literally only meters from the true summit of Buchanan and never knew that he didn't actually stand on the peak. Thanks to him, we would bag both the peak AND the ridge just to make sure we didn't have to go all the way back up there!
Getting off of Alderson was a bit more involved than I expected but that was partly due to the fact that the slope was covered in a good layer of hard snow that was almost impossible to navigate. This was not a good sign of things to come, especially since I knew that the difficult ascent up Mount Carthew's north slope would have the same covering of snow and ice. Eventually we made it down to the lower Carthew Lake and joined up with Sonny and James just before the Alderson Trail descends between Buchanan and Mount Alderson.
[Mount Carthew and the lower Carthew Lake from the bottom of Mount Alderson and the start of the traverse over to Buchanan Peak.]
[Bob and Frank are apparent on the ridge of Mount Alderson from below the descent route.]
[Sonny, James and Kelly just before the descent from the Lower Carthew Lakes along the Alderson trail.]
[The group makes its way through the colorful fall colors along the Alderson trail. Note how much height we've lost as we're now at tree line again.]
[The skyline ridge to Buchanan Peak from the Alderson trail near the waterfall.]
At first we thought of traversing north and then around and up Buchanan Peak from below Buchanan Ridge but as we descended the trail and got closer and closer to the waterfall we realized that it would make a lot more sense to go up Bob Spirko's suggested route and up the southeast ridge. We crossed the stream and James led us up the steep, rubbly slopes of Buchanan. Eventually we got onto some nice scrambling terrain and navigated up through a line of rocks / cliffs that proved to be a lot easier than it looked from Mount Alderson.
On the way up through the steeper rock section I accidently kicked a massive rock down the slope and nearly hit the guys coming up. I'm glad that I never because that rock was not little! I guess that's why a brain bucket is never a bad idea, especially when I'm scrambling above you!
[Kelly makes his way up the ridge to Buchanan Peak.]
After what seemed like a long time but was in reality only about an hour from the start of Buchanan's ridge we were standing on Buchanan Peak. It felt weird to be celebrating such a diminutive 'shoulder summit' and I think Sonny was kind of choked to realize how close he was to the summit last time without realizing it! After taking in the views and grabbing a quick bite to eat we decided to continue on and give Buchanan Ridge and Mount Carthew a look. James decided to continue with Kelly, Eric and I while Sonny went down to the Alderson / Carthew trail and out to the town campsite.
[Mount Carthew's east face and the connecting ridge to Buchanan as seen from the ridge up to Buchanan Peak.]
[The group at the summit of Buchanan Peak.]
[Since the summit canister wasn't in any state to hold another of Sonny's famous limericks, I simply put Sonny in the canister instead!]
[The famous Prince of Wales Hotel is seen far below in the distance from the summit of Buchanan Peak.]