Big Sister (yet another mountain named Sister) is located with Middle and Little Sister in the Bow Valley section of Kananaskis Provincial Park
. The Sisters are some of the most photographed and painted mountains in the Canadian Rockies due to their proximity to the town of Canmore, a gateway to the Canadian Rockies.
These mountains were originally named The Three Nuns, Big Sister being more specifically named Faith. Later they were officially named The Three Sisters. Big Sister was first ascended in 1887 by JJ McArthur. It is the highest of the Three Sisters. A traverse has been done of all three, but little if any beta exists on this route. The most common climb is the scramble on Middle Sister which is just a long backcountry hike from the Canmore side (north). The scramble on Big Sister is more challenging and begins on the south side of the mountain. The toughest climb is Little Sister which is a full multi-pitch climb on suspect rock.
The Trans-Canada highway runs through Canmore. Take the downtown exit and follow it south through town, across the Bow River to Spray Lakes Road past the Canmore Nordic Center. Spray Lakes Road is a gravel road that winds its way up to a notch between mountains Ha Ling and EOR (East Rundle) to the south of Canmore. Continue past the water reservoir on your left, cross a small dam and park in a large gravel pit across from the second dam (Three Sisters Dam), a total of 17.3 km from the Bow River Bridge in Canmore.
There are no permit requirements to enter, climb and/or park in Kananaskis. This is active grizzly country however. Take bear spray. Park headquarters is located on Highway 40 which is several km off of the Trans-Canada via an exit before Canmore. Any recent notices will be posted on the bulletin board outside. If they are open, check in with the ranger staff, they have tons of beta and are always friendly.
When To Climb
This is a summer scramble, best to climb from July through September. I climbed it in early June and would rate it more difficult early season due to a snow traverse close to the summit. There are no other published routes on the mountain, ski touring or otherwise.
Most would plan this as a day trip from Canmore where there are many places to stay, including the Alpine Club’s Hostel and Clubhouse
on the north side of town. The closest camping can be had by crossing the Three Sisters Dam to random camp sites up and down West Side Road. Campground reservations can be made through the Kananaskis Provincial Park website
Outside of the parks web site, Canadian Avalanche Association
is also useful, particularly for winter travel.
External Links100’s of Canadian Rockies multi-pitch rock climbs, ice climbs, alpine climbs and scrambles, just scroll down to routesOR: Best True Technical Clothing and Accessories in the Outdoor IndustryScarpa, has surpassed La Sportiva in terms of quality, function, valueOsprey Backpacks, Not a Second ChoiceGreat Outdoors DepotMont-BellCascade Designs (MSR; Thermarest; Platypus)