Three Sisters Pass and south end of Ehagay Nakoda Range, 11 km return, 900 m elevation gain to the pass, additional 125 elevation gain to the south end of the ridge
This route is from the Canmore side - not the more commonly used south approach from Hwy 742. As rain was in the forecast, I decided to go out and practice some navigational skills. The route begins at the end of Three Sisters Blvd next to the abandoned golf course (it is part of the Highline trail system). The trail crosses Three Sisters Creek. The original bridge was washed out in the flood, but another has been built further up. The new trail follows an old wood and wire pipeline for a ways. The new bridge is built from a cannibalized section of the pipeline.
1. The washed out bridge
2. The wooden pipeline
3. The new bridge
Immediately after the new bridge, I left the Highline trail and followed the creek. I reached the old mine dam. About 300 m upstream there is a waterfall. The flooding has caused it to change its course.
4. The old dam
5. The waterfall
6. The waterfall in 2012
The trail goes up a ridge on the left of the waterfall. There is then a fork. I followed the left fork for a bit to see where it went. It seemed to veer to the left up a ridge. I am guessing that it is to a technical climbing route on Little Sister. I doubled back and went along the right fork. It drops back down to the creek. The trail beyond the waterfall is almost completely washed out. There are piles of dead trees in the creek bed, but I could easily avoid most of them. You need to be careful in your navigation. One fork in the creek takes you to the basin below Ship's Prow. Another takes you well below Three Sisters Pass. The correct fork is by a huge pile of logs and is marked with pink flagging.
7. The fork in the trail
8. The creek above the waterfall
9. The flagging at the right hand fork in the creek
I was already pretty soaked from the rain, but it was going to get much worse. Despite the dotted line on the Gem Trek map, there is no visible route. I simply bashed up the steep creek bed through thick vegetation. I climbed to the right to bypass a headwall and aimed to the end of the cliff on the right hoping to bypass a bushwhack through the trees. No luck. I had to descend and work through some very thick and wet trees and brush. I have not been so soaked since my backpacking days. I had to take my boots off to empty them and wring out my socks. I then proceeded towards the pass first checking out a little nub that provides a good view of the Three Sisters and the pass.
10. The thickly vegetated right fork of the creek
11. The bushwhack through the wet trees to the pass
12. The viewpoint in front of the pass
I quickly hiked over to the pass. The sun then came out and I decided to take a look at the south end of the ridge. It is a moderate scramble to the south end bump.
13. The south end of the ridge
14. The scramble up the bump on the south end of the ridge
15. The Three Sisters from the south end of the ridge
The ridge thereafter gets exposed and ugly and I could see a disjointed series of higher points. There is a big gully system far to the left, and it is possible that this might be an access to the summit. However, it is a completely different approach and I did not have time to check it out. I descended and followed the creek back. Ship's Prow has an unnamed little sister that bears a very close resemblance (except smaller). The hike back was much quicker and uneventful.
16. The broken and exposed ridge beyond the south end bump
17. The view back down to the pass
17. Ship's Prow (back) and the unnamed smaller peak (in front)