The Three Sisters
2936m (9634ft.)

Located in the Bow River Valley west of Stewart Creek. Kananaskis Park, Alberta
Latitude 51; 00; 50 Longitude 115; 21; 00, Topo map 82O/03

Panorama viewpoint: Harvie Heights. Can be seen from Highway 1

Named by George M. Dawson in 1886. The three peaks were originally named "The Three Nuns" because they were thought to resemble three praying nuns after a veil of snow was left on each after a storm. George Dawson changed the name to "The Three Sisters." Official name. Other names Three Nuns, The

First ascended in 1887 by J.J. McArthur (see story and entries under Big Sister, Middle Sister, and Little Sister.)

Looking southeast to The Three Sisters from the Trans-Canada Highway
More photos

Other Information
Looking west-southwest to The Three Sisters from Pigeon Mountain (courtesy Rob Taerum)

One of the most photographed views in the Rockies, the Three Sisters are probably recognized by more people driving along the Trans-Canada Highway than any of the other mountains in Alberta. They are also the peaks most associated with the community of Canmore, which has evolved from a railway siding and coal mining town to its current status as a thriving tourist related community.

Although James Hector did not name the mountains when he passed by in 1858, the geologist of the Palliser Expedition clearly appreciated the view from what is now the Canmore area and wrote in his diary, "Towards evening an excellent camping place was reached opposite a mountain with three peaks, which forms a very imposing group. In a nearby clearing we made camp and stayed for several days making a geological study of the rock formation."

It was Albert Rogers, a nephew of Major Rogers, the discoverer of Roger's Pass in the Selkirk Mountains, who named the three peaks in 1883. He recalled, "There had been quite a heavy snowstorm in the night, and when we got up in the morning and looked out of the tent I noticed each of the three peaks had a heavy veil of snow on the north side and I said to the boys, 'Look at the Three Nuns.' They were called the Three Nuns for quite a while but later were called the 'Three Sisters,' more Protestant like I suppose." The name "Three Sisters" first appeared on Dr. George Dawson's map of 1886 and it is quite likely it was he who thought that the name Three Sisters would be more appropriate.

The highest of the Three Sisters (Big Sister) was first climbed in 1887 by James J. McArthur. The lowest (Little Sister) is a much more difficult ascent and was not climbed until 1925 by a party led by Canmore's most illustrious mountain man, Lawrence Grassi. The centre peak is known as Middle Sister.

A mountain known as Three Sisters is located near Fernie, British Columbia.

Scrambling Routes
Middle Sister
An easy scramble from Stewart Creek. Like an in-between child, Middle Sister receives the least attention of the Three Sisters, or at least it used to. Since the first edition of Scrambles in 1991, increased visits are improving the approach trail. Often, the route is in condition by late May, but you may still want to take an ice axe for lingering snow patches. Kane, Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies page 76

Big Sister
A moderate scramble via southwest slopes. Big Sister is the highest of the photogenic trio called Three Sisters, which rises gracefully above Canmore. It is an attractive mountain readily ascended by southwest slopes on the back side, and is downright enjoyable. Even with an ice axe, a steep snow patch that lingers along north-facing slopes near the top often foils those who attempt it too early in the season. Try from late June or July on. Kane, Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies page 83


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