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East Ridge of The Fist
Kananaskis, Alberta
February 24, 2018

Distance: 7.7 km
Cumulative Elevation Gain: 530 m

The East Ridge of The Fist offers snowshoers a good workout while breaks in the trees provide glimpses of nearby peaks. And by staying in the trees we avoided avalanche risks making this a fairly safe winter trip.

Zora, Keith, Suzy and I parked on the Smith Dorrien Trail with the East Ridge in plain sight. Cliffs make it impossible to head directly to the ridge, so we would skirt them on the left. (They can also be avoided by going right as we did in 2003.)

Our car joined several other vehicles on the roadside, all apparently transporting skiers. We strapped on our snowshoes and quickly dropped down a short slope to the snow-covered marshland that extends to the edge of the forest. After entering the trees we merged onto a broad trail, so smooth and compacted that our snowshoes barely left impressions. After going over a slight rise and before the trail bent left, we broke off to make our own track in the snow as we headed toward the ridge.

We soon crossed Commonwealth Creek and a short time later came to an old logging road. We followed it until we hit a steep slope on our left. Keith did a lion's share of trail-breaking, but we all found the climb strenuous because of slippery sugar snow patches – three steps up and sliding one back down. Deadfall and a dense forest didn't help either. But we persevered and reached the crest. Here the trees thinned, travel eased and we caught sight of nearby peaks. Ski tracks were everywhere.

After a time the ridge crest, steep and broad at first, settled into a narrow, undulating line. We stopped on a high point to have lunch. Across a deep valley loomed Tent Ridge while ahead The Fist thrust into the blue sky.

Then it was time to go back. Closely following our tracks, we made our way back down. On the steeper slopes, we slid down on our butts in the deep snow with much whooping and yelling. The fast, fun descent made up for our tough ascent.

GPX and KML Tracks

View of the East Ridge and The Fist from the highway

We headed to a trail in the trees

We left the trail and made our way to the ridge

We easily crossed Commonwealth Creek

Going up a logging road

The road conveniently goes toward the ridge

Tree-covered Rummel Ridge lies northeast

After leaving the road it was a steep climb to the ridge crest

Finally we're on the ridge

After a long climb in trees we welcomed the sunshine

We passed a stand of larches on the ridge

On our right, Tent Ridge rises above Tryst Lake

The ridge continues to The Fist

Keith, Zora and Suzy on the ridge

Suzy slides down

82 J/14 Spray Lakes Reservoir

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