Smutwood Peak
On 15 October 2011, Rafal (Raff) Kazmierczak, Dinah Kruze, Bob Spirko and I ascended Smutwood Peak on the boundary between Alberta's Peter Lougheed Provincial Park and Banff National Park.  The name "Smutwood" was coined by Andrew Nugara because of the unassuming peak's close proximity to Mount Smuts and Mount Birdwood.  Starting from the trailhead near Mount Engadine Lodge, we enjoyed a pleasant hike up Commonwealth Creek valley.  The sight of Mount Smuts and the Fist brought back fond memories of my ascents of those peaks in years past.  Going up the headwall at the end of the valley, we stayed to climber's left of the forest and ascended open slopes of rubble and slabs to reach Smuts Pass.  From Smuts Pass, we traversed across a scree slope on a snow-covered trail to reach the high col between Mount Birdwood and Smutwood Peak.  After a brief rest stop at the high col, we continued up the ridge toward Smutwood Peak.  We circumvented a false summit along the ridge before climbing up the steep final section to the true summit.  The presence of snow made some sections of the ridge more challenging to surmount on this day, but thankfully, we had no mishaps.  After spending about half an hour on top snapping photographs, we carefully retraced our steps back to Smuts Pass.  Along the way, I took a very brief detour to the top of the false summit before catching up to the others further down the ridge.  Back at Smuts Pass, we descended the headwall by following a good trail in the scree slope below Mount Smuts, but this trail ends at a cairn near treeline.  Other hikers in the area had obviously utilized the same trail for descent, and we simply followed their snowy footprints down through the forested section of the headwall (game trails and light bushwhacking).  We eventually picked up the main trail at the valley bottom and easily hiked out from there.

I cannot overstate how much I enjoyed this trip.  We had ideal weather conditions, no route-finding issues, and jaw-dropping scenery throughout for only a modest amount of effort.  Best of all, I had the privilege to share the trail with some great company.

Be sure to also check out Bob's trip report and Raff's photos.
Can you spot the icicles on the logs? This waterfall is situated near the entrance to Commonwealth Creek valley.
Hard to believe it has been over 8 years since I climbed the Fist and over 15 years since I climbed Mount Smuts! Lining the north side of Commonwealth Creek are Mount Smuts and the Fist.
More pictures of Mount Birdwood to follow... Mount Birdwood dominates much of the scenery along Commonwealth Creek.
It's much more fun to suffer as a group! Bob, Raff and Dinah ascend the headwall below Mount Smuts.
It took us about 2.5 hours to get this far. The group approaches Smuts Pass.
With all the snow, it's not a scramble route anymore! The scramble route up Mount Smuts begins in this gully.
That ridge looks awfully snowy. Andrew said there was no scrambling, right? Lower Birdwood Lake sits below Smutwood Peak (right) in this view from Smuts Pass.
Hard to believe there's a scramble route up that! Here is a more comprehensive view of Mount Smut's south ridge.
Not enough snow to pose any serious avalanche hazard...yet... The group traverses across snowy slopes from Smuts Pass (left).
Boy, the scenery on this trip just gets better and better with every step! Mount Smuts towers over Lower Birdwood Lake.
This is a good place to take a break and have something to eat. While Bob forges ahead through the snow, Raff and Dinah pause to admire the views of Snow Peak (left) from the high col between Mount Birdwood and Smutwood Peak.
R.I.P. Van Belliveau. The upper part of Mount Smuts is plastered with snow.
I thought Dinah would've turned around by now!! ;-) Dinah climbs up the ridge with Mount Birdwood in the background.
Some interesting peaks that are probably seldom climbed. Raff, Dinah and Bob admire the views across the Spray River valley of (L to R) Mount Leval, Mount Vavasour and Mount Warre.
Mind the cornices! Dinah and Bob continue up the ridge.
Or at least they look of similar height! The false summit looks higher than the true summit in this photograph.
Actually, Andrew only said that there was no "decent" scrambling on this peak. I guess this part is "indecent"! The ridge becomes more challenging as the group climbs higher.
Lookin' good, Bob! Bob scrambles up a short cliff band.
Making good progress! Bob and Dinah slog up a snow-covered rubble slope.
Go left here where Bob and Dinah are. These rock bands guarding the false summit are a bit too steep and slippery to surmount on this day.
You could scoot up to the top of the false summit from here in a few minutes. The group reaches the shoulder of the false summit.  Ahead is the true summit of Smutwood Peak.
The south ridge of Mount Smuts doesn't look so bad from this angle! Dinah stands at the col between the false and true summits. Behind her is the west face of Mount Smuts.
A veritable winter wonderland! Mount Birdwood towers above Lower Birdwood Lake in this view from the col.
C'est magnifique, n'est-ce pas? Here is a closer look at the northwest ridge of Mount Birdwood.
Wow! Dinah is still going strong! Dinah and Bob follow a partially buried trail up the final ridge.
It's getting steep! Raff also follows the trail up the ridge.
Raff has already climbed most of the mountains in this photo including Commonwealth Peak, Mount Birdwood, Mount French and Mount Sir Douglas. Raff looks back down the final ridge. Upper Birdwood Lake is visible.
We're getting down to the short strokes! The group climbs up the last few steps before the true summit.  Successively behind them are the false summit, Snow Peak and Mount Sir Douglas.


We made it to the top of Everest!! Okay, not quite...

Raff, Bob and Dinah stand on the 2696-metre summit of Smutwood Peak.


You can tell that we were all pumped to be up there. Sonny, Dinah, Bob and Raff pose together on the summit.
There is speculation that these lakes may actually be the source of Karst Spring about 6 km to the north (on the far side of Mount Shark). The summit provides a good overview of Smuts Pass and the Birdwood Lakes.
Snow Peak looks a lot more rugged from this side! Mount Sir Douglas and Snow Peak command all the attention to the south.
Duh-duhn. Duh-duhn... The striking peak to the southwest is known as Sharkfin Peak (also Talon Peak).
Doesn't seem as interesting as the views to the south and east... Prominent landmarks to the northwest include Mount Morrison (far left), Mount Turner (left) and Mount Shark (second peak from right).
Over Mount Smuts' left shoulder are peaks 1 and 2 of Mount Lougheed and Mount Sparrowhawk. Mount Smuts dominates the view to the east.


Alan Kane's alternate descent route comes down the second big crack from the left. Really.

With all the snow, Mount Smuts resembles a Himalayan giant.


Best view of the day. Bob descends the ridge.
Are we having fun yet? While Bob negotiates one of the trickiest parts of the ridge, Raff seems to be enjoying himself immensely.


Yeah, I know; you've seen this view already. But it's worth seeing again...and again...

The group returns to the col between the true and false summits.


Second peak of the day, Dinah! Sonny kneels on top of the false summit with the true summit behind him.
Did anyone bring Krazy Karpets? Here is a more complete view of the true summit of Smutwood Peak.
Lots of areas worth exploring back there. Besides Leman Lake, Mount Leman (centre) and peaks of the Royal Group are visible to the south.
Don't forget Lunette Peak! Eon Mountain (far left), Aye Mountain (left in clouds), and Mount Assiniboine (right) make an appearance to the west.


More Mount Birdwood porn!

The afternoon sunshine lights up the west face of Mount Birdwood.


Last pic of Birdwood--I promise! The northwest ridge of Mount Birdwood looks very uninviting.
Another beautiful peak! Here is a closer look at Mount Sir Douglas.
That false summit sure looks like a separate peak to me, Dinah! The group returns to Smuts Pass.
I still think Bob and Dinah can climb this peak... The access route for Mount Smuts looks just as scary in the afternoon sun.
We were really blessed with great weather today. The group prepares to descend to Commonwealth Creek valley.  Visible in this photo are the Tower (left), Mount Galatea (left of centre), Pig's Back (right), and Mount Chester (peeking--no pun intended--over the top of Pig's Back).
A real gem of a trip. Thank you, Andrew! Total Distance:  17.1 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  8 hours 43 minutes
Net Elevation Gain:  824 metres