The Fist
Labour Day Monday, 1 September 2003, was another one of those days where I had a hard time deciding what I wanted to do.  Should I relax at home watching football on TV or go out to the mountains and put my body through the proverbial meat grinder?  Remembering some missed opportunities the previous year, I vowed this year not to be so lazy when the weather is nice in the mountains (and as long as there are no backcountry travel bans).  So I headed back to Kananaskis Country for the second time in as many days.  A late start (left my house at 12:30 PM) dictated my choice of scrambling objectives.

A logical choice for me was The Fist, an unofficially-named northeastern outlier of Mount Smuts in K-Country.  The elevation gain and time commitment for The Fist is modest, and it shares the same approach trail as Mount Smuts which I had previously bagged about 7 years ago.  I started hiking from my car just before 3:00 PM and made good progress into Commonwealth Creek valley and up a drainage leading to the Smuts-Fist col.  The scrambling above the col gets tougher, but I quite enjoyed the challenge of tackling the steep gulleys and rock slabs just below the summit.  I topped out at around 5:45 PM.
Commonwealth Creek
Mount Birdwood's reflection can be seen in Commonwealth Creek.
The Fist
This is The Fist as seen from Commonwealth Creek.
It gets tougher from here...
Sonny heads up from the Smuts-Fist col.  In his scrambles guide, Alan Kane describes alternate routes which flank the rock fin (F).
Left Side Of The Fin
This narrow crack to the left of the rock fin is easier to ascend than descend.
Sonny sits on the 2630-metre summit of The Fist.
Going down.
Sonny downclimbs a steep chute below the "skyline notch" as described by Alan Kane.
Right Side Of The Fin
The rubble on the right side of the rock fin is ideal for descending.
A scree slope on the south side of The Fist initially provided me with a quick descent.  Unfortunately, the slope is choked with trees and bushes lower down, and I had to bushwhack a fair distance (lost my sunglasses somewhere here) before finding the drainage I had come up.  After picking up the trail down in the valley, I stopped momentarily to take off my boots and dump out some debris when I heard what sounded like a groan coming from the trees possibly near where I had emerged from the drainage.  The groan was so loud that it reverberated throughout the valley.  Only a few days before, somebody wrote in the summit register that they had seen a grizzly bear climb over the Smuts-Fist col.  I wasn't about to hang around to find out if this bear was the source of the groan, so I quickly re-tied the boot I had taken off (didn't even bother emptying the other boot) and marched quickly and quietly down the trail.  I heard the groan again a few minutes later, but It sounded further away.  I didn't hear it again.

Eventually, I left Commonwealth Creek valley and was on the homestretch of the logging road leading back to my car when I had another close encounter.  A female moose and her two young calves were grazing right in the middle of the logging road.  I tried to sneak by them at the edge of the road when the mother suddenly turned her head and began charging me!  I immediately dove into the thick forest for cover, and the mother thankfully stopped short of coming after me.  I then thrashed through the bushes a bit before regaining the logging road about 50 yards past the moose.  When I got back to my car (round-trip time 5.5 hours), I began taking my boots off when I noticed that the mother and her calves were coming down the logging road right toward me.  I initially thought:  She's taking this rather personally, isn't she?  Luckily, she and her calves simply jogged past me and disappeared into the night.
When moose turn bad...
Moose Encounters Of The Third Kind
Relax.  It's over.
Another beautiful day in the mountains draws to a close.