Bernie's Report - July 14, 2003

A Three Sister's Sunday

Sunday July 13th a group of six early risers met at the C of C offices ready to challenge the highest peak that is visible from the City of Fernie. Our destination was the center peak of Mt. Trinity, commonly known as �The Three Sisters�. The summit elevation is 2796 meters ( 9176 ft.) ASL. The foot work commenced at 1320 meters (4330 ft.) ASL at the Hartley Lake end of Heiko�s trail. Since the previous day�s temperature had reached 37C (98.6F) we were all stocked up with gallons of drinking fluids. We were prepared� or so we thought!

There are two routes to the Three Sisters but since Heiko constructed a trail from the Hartley Lake Road to Island Lake, this trail has become the preferred route to access the Three Sisters. The hike is fairly long. About 20K I would guess. From the trail head to summit took us 4 hours of steady hiking (albeit the pace declined considerably over the last 1000 ft.). The first one and a half hours is a steady moderate climb through beautiful forested slopes, waterfalls, ladders, bridges and streams. The pitch levels off (somewhat) at this point and meanders through wildflower strewn alpine meadows into a high alpine bowl at the base of a long scree slope up the �back� of the center sister.

The air temperature was not nearly as hot as it had been the previous day. It was, in fact, quite cool. By the time we reached the meadow the wind had picked up and the air temperature was only about 10C (50F). Now that we were in a more exposed area we had to put our jackets on to stay warm.

The route from this point traverses upwards across the scree slope and then follows the ridge line to the top of the mountain. You are above the tree line now and the views are spectacular. As we progressed upward across the wind swept slopes the temperature continued to fall. The combination of rarefied air, strong gusty winds and numb cold fingers made for a challenging push for the summit. But, we all made it with smiles on our faces. (Although I don�t remember seeing too many smiles during that last few hundred feet.)

After a short lunch break and mandatory photo session on the summit we headed back down. The temperature at the summit was not much above freezing and as you can see in the photos we were just below the base of the clouds. Once again preparation and equipment were the topic of discussion. We should all know by now how quickly mountain weather systems can change and how dramatically temperature is affected by elevation and wind chill, but none of us even brought gloves! We were all sucked in by the previous day�s high temperatures. Luckily most of us had brought an extra pair of socks and these were put to good use on our upper appendages.

Traversing scree slopes can be quite tricky, as a couple of us discovered. Both Heinz and Steve slipped on the way down, but in this regard Steve was prepared. His first aid kit was put to good use. We took our time on the way out and completed the hike in just under 8 hours.

This was my first ascent of the Three Sisters. The group consisted of myself, my wife, Linda, Aussi Dave, Heinz, Steve and Sparwood Sean. I really liked this hike. It was just the right length and challenging enough to maintain interest. The prominent destination keeps you motivated and I very much enjoyed the variety of terrain. Always changing and never boring. Looking forward to the next time!

Bernie -

Linda, as the trail approaches the meadow

"Dancing Waters" near the beginning of the trail

One of several mountain steams

Destiantion - top right, trail across scree in centre of photo

Up the scree slope

What a cool group! Literally

Looking down on the bcak of Mt. Fernie

Steve's always prepared...

View of Fernie from the base of the clouds

The Gang... Linda, Dave, Sean, Steve and Heinz