Big Sister

Big Sister near Canmore, AB


This trail was given a rating of 4 out of 5 stars This trail was given a rating of 4 out of 5 stars This trail was given a rating of 4 out of 5 stars This trail was given a rating of 4 out of 5 stars This trail was given a rating of 4 out of 5 stars
13 kms
7hours
difficult
Hiking
Winter, Fall, Summer
Canmore, AB
User cookiemaster
Start from the gravel pit right beside the Three Sisters Dam along Spray Lakes Trail. Get on the second ridge to the left of the gully. Apparently, there is a trail that goes through the wooded area. Follow this, and you will eventually pass the treeline. Once you pass the treeline, follow the ridge to the summit. eventually, you will have to climb down a challenging face of rock (I'd grade it at 5.1). Its not too bad; you can boulder it. Once past this, keep the upper ridge on your left until you find a clear path to the summit.

I did this trail in february, but I didn't take the recommended trail. I took the right ridge, which I found considerably more difficult, albeit shorter. As a general rule, allow yourself twice the amount of time to complete the route in the winter as you would in the summer. This means taking a headlamp and getting an alpine start, even if its dark. I highly recommend doing this scramble in the dry season, as certain areas of the mountain are very prone to avalanches, especially on the downclimb. If you do go in the winter, make sure you take food, water, avalanche safety equipment, crampons, gaiters, and at least one alpine axe (I strongly recommend taking two for faster ascent and better control if you do begin to slide). Snowshoes are optional. If you don't like the idea of getting an alpine start in the winter, be prepared to stay on the mountain overnight, if conditions necessitate it.

I don't recommend taking this trail in the spring. During the spring, the danger of avalanches on this particular mountain range is extremely high (so high, in fact, that the trail for middle sister is completely shut down). If you do decide to do it in the spring... its your funeral.

The trail may not be 13km. The distance depends on the route you take. There is another, longer route that takes you up the northeast face that requires a 7.4km hike to the base. I can't give you an estimate for the distance of the route described on this page. You'd have to trace it on a map. Gem Trek publishes topo maps of the area, so it might be worth looking at one of those for your route.

Important to keep on the same track as you took up. when you reach that flat section after which you have to go down along the creek. Take a note of the markers which get you back on the ridge, which takes you down to the start if the tree line Once you come down to the start of the treeline, there is a major unmarked section going to left - Avoid it.

We took the wrong turn to left and so did 2 other groups. This left section takes you down to the creek which goes along the ridge which is on right. Coming down this creek wasted our 2hours . Where it should have taken us only half hour to get down from treeline, it took us more than 2.5 hours and its very slushhy and sketchy. You wont realize you took a wrong turn until you come way down and it just a steep drop to the main creek area. Actually this must have been an old trail which got completely destroyed by the floods in 2013. Best is to stay on the Right side and on the ridge when you start the treeline descent. If you feel its not the way you came up by, don't see any pink markers on trees, then its better to walk up to the tree line and take the correct route.

Directions:

Take the Spray Lakes Trail past the Nordic Centre and through the provincial park. In the winter, the drive takes about 30 minutes. There are three dams. The gravel pit I spoke of is beside the third dam, which is located a few kilometres past the spot where you cross the bridge spanning the river. You'll be able to see windtower from the starting point, to the east.
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By akash1592Posted By: akash1592  - Sat Aug 01 22:28:48 UTC 2015 This trail was given a rating of 5 out of 5 stars This trail was given a rating of 5 out of 5 stars This trail was given a rating of 5 out of 5 stars This trail was given a rating of 5 out of 5 stars This trail was given a rating of 5 out of 5 stars Upside Took us 1 hour to go above tree line.
After that you take the sketch ridge and walk about 300m ( half an hour or little more) then you reach a very steep rock to climb, look for markers and there should be a downclimb of 5m to the creek on right side.
Then you go up creek for about another half hour. Its a tricky scramble and you have to take support of the ridge wall on your left to go up the scree.
You'll reach a flat section after climbing up the creek. Good views and nice place to rest.
After that you continue on the ridge straight up for about half hour again after which you reach a point where you have to downclimb for 10-15 meters, which is not that that sketchy.
From here on you are about 300m from the summit and can see it clearly.
Continue accent up along the ridge wall. This is really sketchy and tough scramble. On your left is steep drop. On the way almost 60-80m from summit a steep rock comes, but you can go around from right and continue up.

Great views of Kannaskis and Canmore.
Downside Important to keep on the same track as you took up.

when you reach that flat section adter whih you have to go down along the creek. Take a note of the markers which gwt you back on the ridge, which take you down to the start if the tree line

Once you come down to the start of the treeline, there is a major unmarked section going to left - Avoid it. We took the wrong turn to left and so did 2 other groups. This left section takes you down to the creek which goes along the ridge which is on right. Coming down this creek wasted our 2hours . Where it should have taken us only half hour to get down from treeline, it took us mire than 2.5 hours and its very slushhy and sketchy. You wont realize you took a wrong turn until you come way down and it just a steep drop to the main creek area. Actually this must have been an old trail which got completely destroyed by the floods in 2013.

Best is to stay on the Right side and on the ridge when you start the treeline descent. If you feel its not the way you came up and dobt see and pink markers on trees, then its better to walk up to the tree line and take the correct route.
Comment Have fun and be prepared for you sport shoes to crack a bit. carry Gloves, will help you coming down the scree scramble.
i used 2lt of powerade. Goin up if you start early, like we started at 7 from the bottom of hill on August 1 , you wont see sun till like 10 am so not much dehydration. coming down if you stay on correct path it should be fine. Goodluck
By ChrisMarryPosted By: ChrisMarry  - Sun Sep 15 02:42:24 UTC 2013 This trail was given a rating of 5 out of 5 stars This trail was given a rating of 5 out of 5 stars This trail was given a rating of 5 out of 5 stars This trail was given a rating of 5 out of 5 stars This trail was given a rating of 5 out of 5 stars Upside Great views all along, short and steep, so you get to the best fast! Different trail though, see my comments. Downside Be careful to the gullies on the way down and go back down the exact same way. We did the ridge all along to the tree line and it was tricky sometimes, big long slabs... Some route finding on the slope past the tree line on the "right" trail. Comment We did it from a different trail head, so most of the information I provide will be different.

Stats: Elevation gain (net) 1170 m in 2.85 km only, so extremely steep (the steepest I've seen so far I think, no break time)! Add 270 m for the ridge walk. So total approx. 6.24 km return of hard work and some moderate-difficult scrambling-climbing.

From the parking to the tree line, trail is obvious, no problem there. Once on the ridge, you got to be careful and watch for the cairns, you'll have 2 showing you the way down climbing to gain the slope. Walls of approx. 5 metres, great grips.

Once on the slope, route finding, we just went up the straightest line we could. Then, you'll have to pay attention to the cairns again, very useful on that trail. Out of the slope and back on the ridge, you will have 2 other down climbing walls, one will be higher, but it is the one with the best footholds I would say. Once you reach the summit, you can go ahead and do the ridge walk for 270 m. It's not difficult if you made it to the summit. SAME WAY BACK. We wanted to try the ridge all over without going back on the slope, not a good idea. Great scrambling, challenging sometimes, but lots of long slabs with scree, exposure, down climbing, etc. We added to it by throwing (accidentally obviously...) my backpack in a gully. It went down 200 m on a big slab in that gully, wow... My friend could reach it with some challenging scrambling and we got back to the ridge.

Direction: We rather parked in front of the Big Sister directly, so you have to continue on the same road for few km, it's going to be the other gravel pit on your left, directly in front of the Spray lake campground road.


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