After scrambling Mount Smuts Dave, Blair and I figured that we should tack on another difficult scramble just to make sure our day was filled up! We circled all the way around Mount Smuts after descending it's harrowing gully and side-sloped for what seemed like hours till we finally came to the Smuts / Fist col. Actually it did take us quite a while to do the hike around Smuts and to The Fist. There were sections of nasty bushwhacking and sections of really bad side-sloping and even some pretty slick snow we had to cross. It actually took us 3 hours to go from the summit of Smuts to the Fist / Smuts col while going all the way from the parking lot to the summit of Smuts only took me 2.5 hours!
[Vern and Blair traverse under The Fist after first climbing and descending Mount Smuts. Photo by Dave S.]
[The traverse was pretty easy but it was HOT out! Also the terrain wasn't entirely straight forward.]
[Blair on the traverse]
[We had to cross some snow patches - at least there was plenty of melting water.]
[Gorgeous alpine meadows with Mount Birdwood rising to the left.]
[Blair heads up from the col to the crux cracks on The Fist.]
We met up with a group of climbers from Edmonton at the Smuts / Fist col just after they came off The Fist. After chatting for a bit we headed for the ascent gully. The climb up the ascent gully was fun but a lot looser than Smuts! It was also a lot less exposed but a slip still would have hurt a bit. Rockfall was the main concern in the gully - but be forewarned, it is a steep endeavour and not to be taken too lightly. I wouldn't even consider trying it without a helmet and certainly not if anyone else was in the gully already.
[The main crux gully on The Fist. People also take the shallower gully further to the right.]
[Looking down the crux gully from near the top of it.]
[Vern and Blair on the upper section of The Fist just before the summit.]
[Gorgeous Tryst Lake with the Spray Lakes road in the background from the summit ridge of The Fist.]
[Incredible view of Smuts - kind of intimidating!]
Eventually we popped out of the gully and navigated some really exposed terrain to get to the summit. While Blair searched out some exposed stuff to fool around on, Dave and I sucked in the views and as much liquids as we could! We didn't stay at the summit for long and soon were dumping rocks on each other down the gully.
[Mount Birdwood with Snow Peak to the right and Robertson and Sir Douglas in the bg to the left.]
[Gorgeous summit panorama includes L to R, Birdwood, Smuts and Mount Assiniboine. ++]
[Looking between Shark (L) and Tent Ridge (R) up the Bryant Creek valley that is used to access Mount Assiniboine on the far left in the bg. ++]
[Blair checks out the outlier summit closer to Smuts.]
[Blair and Vern on the summit of The Fist.]
[Spray Lakes with Nestor on the L and Engadine on the R.]
[Across the Spray Lakes road lies The Tower and Galatea.]
[Looking further down Spray Lakes valley towards Mount Kent over Commonwealth Ridge.]
[Looking over Mount Burstall towards the giant peaks of K-Country including French, Robertson and Sir Douglas in the far background from L to R.]
Other than one tense moment when Dave put all his weight on the exact rock I had just told him was loose and sent 50lbs of rock crashing down over my hand and just past Blair (he thought I meant the OTHER one!) - we made it down with no major incidents. I'm sure glad I am 6ft tall because some of the down climbing in the gully was a lot easier for someone with good reach! If you're not used to very steep and loose terrain and you haven't just done Smuts I think you could find this scramble quite difficult in places. It kind of reminded me a bit of the upper part of Dolomite Peak.
[Delicate down climbing to the crux gully. You don't want to slip here!]
[The bottom part of the gully is very loose scree.]
[Awesome Rockies terrain from the exit to the gully.]
Once we made it back to the col we spent the next hour bushwhacking our way down to the trail and out to our bikes. I was surprised that there was no trail down from the col but I think we might have done better by traversing further south before cutting down. Bikes are really nice after a long, hot day of walking and we were at the parking lot in no time flat. Round trip time was just under 9 hours.