Commonwealth Peak is clearly visible from the road. In the above image it is The Pointed peak in the middle left. To the right is "Pigs Tail" or Sharks tooth with it's dogtooth appearance. On the farthest right is Mount Birdwood
. It is listed as a moderate scramble in Alan Kane's Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies
pages 112-113. Once you reach the summit you will have clear views of The Fist
, Mount Smuts, Mount Birdwood
, Pigs Tail, Mount Chester
and Nestor to name just a few. While the peak sees some traffic. There is a boggy approach which cuts into the numbers. There are several options listed for descent. Depending on how long a day you want.
Time: 5-11 hours
Height gain: 850 metres
To start the approach to Mount Birdwood you must drive to the Burstall Pass parking lot. From Canmore it's a 45 km drive along the Smith-Dorrien/Spray Lakes Road. The parking lot is on the right side of the road. Take the Burstall pass trail for 3.5 km. You will then have to cross some gravel flats. The approach is left of the avalanche gully up to the col between Pigs Tail and Commonwealth peak. To get to this point you must cross some small streams and a boggy area. Carrying an extra pair of old shoes is advised for this portion. Trudge up the bushy area to the left of the avalanche slope to the col. There can be a cornice here. From here you will angle to the right following a trail around to a hidden gully. You go up the scree to some scrambling on loose rock to the summit ridge.
There are several options listed in the Kane book for descent. The way you came up. The fastest. Or decend to the col and return the north side to Commonwealth creek and out. The other is long via Smuts creek
There is no requirement for backcountry permits in Kananskis.
Peter Lougheed Provincal Park and Bow Valley Provinca
l Park take up a fair amount of Kananaskis country, so posted signs should be obeyed.
This is an extremly beautiful part of the Canadian Rockies. Please do your part to keep garbage out of the trees and off the ground. There are washroom facilities at some of the parking lots along the road, try and use these is possible.
When To Climb
The summer season is the best time. Snow free is ideal.
Camping is allowed anywhere as long as it is 1 km from the road. Be respectful to the area though and try to use desginated campgrounds.
There are other campgrounds in the area if desired.
Spray Lakes West Shore Campground has 50 sites (403) 591-7226
There is also the Alpine Club of Canada lodge with rooms and excellent facilities of 19$ CDN a night. The Alpine Club of Canada (403) 678-3200, ext 1
Engadine Lodge is a good base camp if you want some comfort at the end of the day.
Box 40025 Canmore, Alberta T1W 3H9
Tel.: (403) 678-4080
E mail: email@example.com
Web address www.mountengadine.com
www.weatheroffice.com for a weather forecast
Kananaskis Country Emergency phone # is 591-7767
Spray Lake Ranger Station. (403) 678-5533
Alberta Tourist Visitor Centre (403) 678-5277
The Alpine Club of Canada (403) 678-3200, ext 1
or (403) 762-2088 for weather conditions
The summer months would be the most popular. June to end of September.