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Smutwood Peak

Difficulty: 
Difficult Winter Scramble
Elevation [m]: 
2701
Round Trip Distance [km]: 
15.9
Net Elevation Gain [m]: 
864
Total Elevation Gain [m]: 
1072
Ascent Time: 
4:20
Bushwhackyness: 
Very Little
Tripdate: 
Sunday, February 10, 2013

For the second day of our Kananaskis trip, Andrea, Mike, Steven and I decided upon "Smutwood Peak" as our target. Nugara's snowshoeing book described this as having awesome views of Smuts and Birdwood (which makes sense given its great location) and was highly reccomended from Vern Dewit's trip report a week earlier. Parking on the side of the road between the Engadine and Burstal Pass parking lots we quickly caught up with a well packed trail and headed in the direction of Smuts Pass. After shortly reaching a deceptive fork in the trail (which may or may not have lead the proper way) we decided to go out into the bush following the cree. This proved to be a less elegant approach (with a bunch of sketchy creek crossings snowshoeing over narrow trees) and eventually we rambled back into the clearing and rejoined the well packed trail we were on in the first place. Once back on the trail and reaching the clearing the views really start to open up.

The Fist, Commonwealth Peak, and of course Mount Smuts and Mount Birdwood themselves ring the area in fabulous views (especially in morning light). Smuts Pass is a quite popular back country skiing destination and sure enough we had some old ski tracks to follow up the steep slopes just before the pass which made trailbreaking less of a slog. Reaching the pass "Smutwood Peak" becomes visible, the peak and its connecting ridge look awesome with cornices clinging pretty much everywhere and countless peaks looming further in the distance. Gaining the false summit proved to have some challenges working up thinly snow covered rockbands making good use of an ice axe to find rocky handholds. Once at the false summit a short plod upwards (avoiding the everpresent cornices on the climbers right) lead to the true summit with views that made the trek well worthwhile!

On descent we ended up running into another group heading up Smutwood which turned out to be Josee and Fabrice from goldenscrambles.ca, I had seen their trip reports and names in a bunch of registers across the rockies and meeting them was kind of neat. Once back down at the pass we then decided to head up to a highpoint of the ridge connecting to Mount Birdwood (which Andrea had taken to calling 'Little Birdwood') to get a direct view of Mount Smuts before heading back down the same trail and heading home. Solid 2 days of trips, good peaks, interesting weather.

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