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post #1 of (permalink) Old 09-26-2021, 02:27 PM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Calgary, AB, Canada.
Posts: 167
Default Commonwealth Lake & Pig's Back

On the hunt for larches in less trafficked terrain, Great Divide Girl and I headed for Commonwealth Creek which we had eyed on an earlier trip to Tryst Lake. There's a large marsh area opposite the valley and a creek crossing is the first challenge of the day. We watched the progress of a Tryst Lake party just ahead of us who, after some back and forth searching, opted for a jump across. Inspecting their spot we eyed a high bank with a 3+ foot jump over deep water with a muddy, grass covered launch pad. We looked elsewhere. After a short bush bash upstream we spotted a ribbon on a stick that marked a step across narrow channel. The marsh area showed lots of animal sign but no animals. Near where Commonwealth Creek comes out we found a good trail through mossy woods before reaching the cut blocks. Once through them we took the left branch trail leading to a steep uphill track with lots of downed logs to cross. After rounding a shoulder we came to very pleasant Commonwealth Lake with several resident ducks. Commonwealth Peak hung over the valley and the first larches came into view. Above the lake the steep cliffs of the Pig's Back loomed.

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After a snack we circled the lake and found a good trail leading up to the larches which were close to prime. Occasional ribbons and cairns showed the way but these soon diminished amidst increasingly steep and miserable scree. Route finding became the game, choosing between nasty side hilling or heading straight up. Cliff bands needed to be avoided. The larches mitigated the trudging as did views across the valley to Commonwealth Ridge.

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After much rock hopping we reached the col and some new vistas opened up. Above was Commonwealth Peak and we could see a faint trail through the rocks leading to the top of Pig's Back just a short way above.

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After another snack we headed up. I was convinced the high point we could see was a false summit and so it proved to be although further high points along the ridge top may or may not have been higher. The west face was vertical, and featured many huge, detached flakes, poised to crash into the valley below. Very deep cracks foretold the further progression of erosion to come.

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Across the Smith Dorien were Chester, Gusty and Galatea, closer to hand, Smuts, The Fist, and Tent Ridge and off in the distance, Spray Lake.

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The north face of Birdwood featured a small pocket glacier.

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The map showed a trail descending to the south from the col but the scree that we could see looked worse than what we'd already endured. We backtracked, looking for familiar landmarks and eventually finding them. My knees were feeling it before we got to more level ground in the forest and finally the lake was revealed once again.

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If scree is in your repertoire, Pig's Back is a good viewpoint. Saving it for an avalanche-benign ski trip might be a better option.
martin and solo75 like this.

Last edited by VicB; 09-26-2021 at 02:46 PM.
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