I loved this hike even more than I thought I would. Sure! It’s overused and over photographed and definitely overshared but that doesn’t change the fact that I had a wonderful time with my daughter enjoying some of the best views of my year from this lowly objective. And that’s what it all comes down to in the end isn’t it? Sharing nature and fresh air while exercising with loved ones and being amazed over and over with stunning views of wild landscapes in all directions. The fact that thousands of others have shared this experience shouldn’t lessen it but should encourage us to seek out new experiences rather than going back to the same ones over and over. I won’t be back to Smutwood in the fall any time soon but I sure am thankful for this particular trip.
In the summer of 2020 while day tripping Mount Jellicoe and Prairie Lookout I happened to notice a ridge stretching north of Mount Maude that looked like a fun little ski tour. I wondered if it could be combined with the FHR ski traverse to make things a bit more interesting and once again it got added to the itinerary for spring 2021.
It’s been a while since I skied to Burstall Pass. It used to be my go to spot for early season or shorter day trips but over the years we found many other spots and BP sort of dropped down the list. On a cold Monday in late December 2020, Wietse and I decided it was finally worth a repeat trip in our new ski gear that we bought way back in early November already.
Prairie Lookout lived up to my expectations. I knew it was a tough peak and after the easy ascent of Mount Jellicoe it definitely showed some teeth. The views from the south ridge and the summit are stunning.
A gorgeous peak situated on the Haig Icefield with stunning views in every direction.
A quick, fun, moderate scramble up Mount Lillian over Buller Pass in Kananaskis Country during larch season, somewhat tempered by a cloudy, grey sky which cleared while we exited the mountain.
Phil Richards and I decided that Commonwealth Ridge would make a nice first summit of 2016 – and we were right. We started in beautiful predawn light from the Smuts Pass parking area along the Spray Lakes Road in cold temperatures of around -23 degrees. The cold was a bit of a bummer as we were expecting warmer temps – but we warmed up soon enough as we snowshoed towards the ridge on a highway of ski and snowshoe tracks. Initially we were following So Nakagawa’s GPS track, but soon we started questioning this decision and turned back to find a more direct trail up the ridge. Thankfully we found another highway track going in the right direction which I’m sure saved us hours of deep sugar-snow trail breaking which is as much fun as it sounds – i.e. not much!
On Friday, October 09 2015 Phil Richards and I decided that we should do a “pre-turkey” workout. Well, actually only I decided that, since Phil doesn’t eat turkey, but you get the point. Originally the weather was looking perfect. Naturally, as the day approached the weather deteriorated a bit but still looked reasonable enough to make the effort. We downgraded our original plans a bit and settled on Mount Nomad in Kananaskis Country, near the Upper Kananaskis Lake and Mount Indefatigable.
Raf told me I should climb Mount Sir Douglas this year (2015) since it was my 40th birthday and Sir Douglas is the 40th 11,000er in Corbett’s book. Who am I to argue with the crazy Pol? I tentatively made plans to attempt this peak at some point this year, and that point came to fruition with the usual crazy planning that Ben, Steven and I usually end up doing. Our plans changed at least 3 times over 2 days, including a phone call and last minute weather checks from Red Deer as they drove out to my house!
After skiing up Healy Pass Peak the day before, I decided to take the family on a snowshoeing trip on Sunday, December 15 in preparation for our trek to the Elk Lakes ACC hut in one week. Bob Spirko indicates that the elevation gain is only around 300 meters on Gypsum Ridge so I figured this was a good candidate to bag a peak and get the family out. I also liked the fact that we’d be in the trees because the day was shaping up to be fairly cloudy and windy – but warm.
For the past few years, I’ve had Smutwood Peak on my radar. I originally wanted to do it in the fall, due to the stunning location and the two Birdwood Lakes that make fall photos look amazing from this area. Alas, fall season (and larch season in particular), only lasts about 1 month if you’re LUCKY so this peak got relegated to a ski trip since I’m running out of peaks I can attain in 1 day on backcountry skis from any roads! Originally Wietse and I planned to ski Smutwood the week previous but thanks to a brain fart on my part we ended up discovering a ski circuit that we didn’t know existed and bagged Pig’s Back instead…
So how does one end up on a peak about 4km due east of one’s original objective when one actually left the correct trailhead and there was clear weather and an obvious ascent track? I’m not 100% sure. But it happened. Wietse and I originally intended on skiing as much of Smutwood Peak as possible before slogging up to the summit in our ski boots. We would approach the mountain via Commonwealth Creek and the Birdwood / Smuts col – it should all be very obvious. The weekend before I had seen at least 10-15 cars parked near the winter trailhead so I assumed we would have no issues.
I’ve wanted to do a traverse around the Tent Ridge Loop for years already. When the family was heading out to the mountains to do a hike I decided this would be a perfect chance to do it. All I can say is follow Gillean Daffern’s guide TO THE LETTER. This includes walking BACK along the road from the parking area on the Mount Shark road. If you’re only going up Tent Ridge, take the obvious trail up the logging road a wee bit further UP the road and follow directions, but if you’re doing the loop ignore this obvious trail and walk BACK along the road, following her directions.
Andrew Nugara’s trip report from Mount French is what attracted me to this wonderful peak. Great views, 3rd highest peak in K-country and some severe exposure to test hardened scramblers sounded like the perfect objective for a nice summer day. My goal for 2011, if I had one, was to try some more difficult scrambles and start doing more Alpine climbing, especially those involving relatively simple glacier ascents. I started the year well by skiing a bunch of peaks on simple glaciated terrain and soloing the west ridge of Baldy in the rain. I think I ended the summer fairly well too – with an ascent of Mount French with So Nakagawa as my company for the day.
On Saturday, January 23 2010 I joined a nice large group of friends for a jaunt up Burstall Pass Peak in the Burstall Pass area of Kananaskis. Since I had a bat attitude (or “battitude”) on the evening before, I decided to sleep in an extra hour and try to catch the rest of the group on the way up the pass. I was a bit bummed out on the drive to K-country because the weather was very grey and depressing. I was starting to think sleeping in would have been a great idea.
After scrambling Mount Pilot and Brett the day before and driving all the way to Elkwood campground in Kananaskis I was ready for a shorter and easier day. I chose to finally do Mount Burstall since it had been on my radar for a long time already.
After a successful and enjoyable weekend in Waterton the week before, Keith Bott and I decided for a repeat mini-trip, this time in Kananaskis and Banff. On this particular trip we would attempt Commonwealth Peak on Friday evening in Kananaskis Country and then Mount Aylmer in Banff the following day, on Saturday.
I did something on Saturday, May 16th that I’ve never done before. I bagged a peak on skis on the May long weekend! Wietse and I had already made two half-hearted attempts at Snow Peak near Burstall Pass in Kananaskis Country over the winter of 2009. Finally on May 16th we decided that we’d had enough of this ‘easy’ peak and ended up summiting in perfect conditions in around 7 hours, round trip.
Wietse and I were in the mood to do some quality suffering on Saturday, July 09 2008. We perused the Kane scrambles book, looking for something that would hurt a bit but nothing too technical since neither of us were in the mood to balance on tiny ledges or up anything too tricky this particular weekend.
On a beautiful day in early March, TJ, Megs, Wietse and I completed the French / Haig/ Robertson ski traverse in the heart of Kananaskis Country under the looming summit of Mount Sir Douglas over the French and Robertson Glaciers.
After spending 2 weeks on a family vacation in Kelowna, I was ready for the serenity of a rarely climbed peak. Tuesday, August 14 2007 proved to be the perfect day for a mid-week scramble up Mount Warspite.
On the third day we got up early and continued up and across Northover Ridge before descending into the Three Isle Creek valley towards Three Isle Lake. On the way we decided to bag McHarg and Worthington.
On an early (0430) August 6 2005 morning, I joined Dave Stephens and Blair Piggot on a full day trip to scramble Mount Smuts and The Fist in Kananaskis Country.
There are two reasons why Kane rated Mount Engadine as a difficult scramble. One is the nature of the ridge itself. Long sections of ‘no-fall’ zones coupled with loose rock and tricky down climbs make this a much more difficult climb than even other difficult scrambles such as Lady McDonald.