Introducing the Peaks – Big Sister

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Looking over at the 3 Sisters and planning the SV10 route

Our first featured peak is Big Sister, the finish line on our 10 peak trek.  Big Sister is the tallest of the 3 sisters and one of the most photographed peaks in the Canadian Rockies.  Even if you’ve never climbed a mountain in your life, if you’ve driven past Canmore you will recognize Big Sister.

I first climbed this peak back in September of 2015 (Strava route here). Jamie lead the way and Philippe came along for the ride. This was Philippe’s first ever scramble!  You can check out his Go Pro video of the summit and descent here.  We spent a lot of time emptying rocks out of our shoes.  Next time we will be wearing gaiters 🙂

The ascent route climbs roughly 1300m in 3.3km.  It is very steep!  To put that in perspective for some of the local trail runners, it is nearly twice as steep Prairie Mountain.

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Very, very steep.

The Big Sister Trail is fairly well defined, with cairns marking important junctions.  You gain height quickly and views of the Spray Valley open up right away.  The crux of the route is a small downclimb just before the final push to the summit.  The downclimb is not as scary as it looks, and you just have to slow down and take your time. (In Philippe’s video you see us climbing up the downclimb).

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Climbing back up the crux of the route

Immediately after the crux there is a shaded area next to a cliff which holds onto snow almost year round.  Last year, during a June ascent, I was forced to turn around at this point since the snow was frozen hard as ice and I had not brought any traction aids with me.  A fall on this section would be deadly.  During our SV10 attempt we will be carrying Veriga crampons so that we won’t get caught off guard by any icy sections.

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That snow may not look like much, but it can be tricky!

Coming up next week, The Orphan!

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