The Fist has been one of those elusive mountains on my "To Do" list.

Back in August of 2005, I was supposed to climb the Fist with my friends Momoe and Rie but a freak fall on Mt. Edith a day earlier had me bruised and shaken.

A month later, I was supposed to return with Linda Breton but a freak snowstorm turned the scramble into a backcountry ski trip.

Almost a year later, it was time to wreak revenge on the Fist. This time, the conditions were perfect as I returned with Linda and my friend Yuji.

The Fist is an outlier of Mt. Smuts in Kananaskis and resembles a clenched fist from the Smith Dorian highway. Although it looks relatively close from the road, the approach involves a 1.5hr hike which takes you from the Engadine Lodge area towards Smuts Pass.

Here's a view from the trail as we hike towards the Fist. Commonwealth Peak can be seen in the distance.


Here's a view from the trail as it winds its way along Commonwealth Creek. Mt. Birdwood can be seen in the distance.

In case you're wondering, Mt. Birdwood can be climbed via that ridge but it's in the realm of alpine rock climbing.


After about an hour of hiking, the Fist finally pops up above the treeline to the right. Mt. Smuts can be seen to the left.

Our goal was the flat area (col) between Mt. Smuts and the Fist. Since there wasn't an official trail to that col, we decided to play it safe and overshoot the Fist to ascend a gully.

Angling up towards the col from beneath the Fist would've shaved off some distance but the bushwhacking didn't look too appealing.


Here's a view of our ascent route towards the col. It didn't look too high from the hiking trail but it sure took a lot longer than we expected. The route involved some minor bushwhacking down below and was very steep but we were able to ascend a dry creek bed higher up.


Here's the view towards Mt. Smuts from the col. This is on my "To Do" list for late Aug or early Sept. The scrambling route is on the other side of the mountain and is quite possibly the toughest ascent in the scrambles guidebook.


Linda spotted a few people on the summit so I couldn't resist taking a shot with my 30x Olympus.

Way to go guys ! I'll be checking your name in the register later this year. :)


After a nice break at the col, it was time to tackle the Fist. The normal route ascends the prominent gully just to the right of center. (The vertical black area.)

The guidebook discussed another route to the right of the "fin" but we didn't bother checking it out.


The gully wasn't too bad but the rock was very loose ! Just try and imagine ascending a steep set of stairs with a ton of marbles on each step and you'll get the idea.

Here's Linda starting off in the gully. It kind of reminded me of the upper part of the Tower of Babel or perhaps that gully on the east side of Yamnuska at the shoulder but it was definitely harder. Ironically, I found myself doing a fist jam to climb over one of the obstacles in the gully.

Yuji on the other hand took a look at the ascent route and decided to stay at the col and take a nap.


After grovelling up the gully and ascending a small set of ledges, we finally conquered the elusive Fist !!! The views were awesome all around but the Spray Lakes impressed me the most.

The summit register indicated that we were the 4th party to summit this year. Many of the entries stated something like, "How will we get down from here ?". My entry was "Can't wait for the fries and beer !".

During our lenthy stay at the summit, Linda decided to take a summit shot with her camera. After setting the timer, she quickly ran over to my side when she suddenly found herself slipping towards a steep gully which would have shot her down the mountain. She eventually recovered... but not before the camera took a shot of her screaming in horror. I'm still waiting for that picture ! Linda... C'mon ! I know you have it ! :)


Descending the gully wasn't too bad but there was one section which required a minor traverse on a smooth section of slab to regain the gully once more. This was kind of a pain during the ascent but it was a little nerve wrecking on the descent. I'd have to say that this was the crux.


Finally, here's my friend Yuji napping at the col taken from the top of the gully.

Linda and I took our time ascending the Fist and spent around 30 min at the summit before scrambling down. We even took a detour on the way down to explore a small tunnel so Yuji was all alone for over 90 minutes. Suprisingly, he only woke up after we were within 5m of him.

The long nap did wonders to his energy levels as he set a blistering pace back to the car.

And yes... we did go for fries and beers afterwards. :)