The Orphan

The Orphan:

  • 7.88 km (round-trip)
  • 4h 09 m (no breaks included)
  • 797m elevation gain
  • Creek bed approach, short scramble to peak; Moderate exposure at summit

On my following weekend off, I met up with Emmanuelle, a friend from a previous training session who seemed as into the outdoors as I was. She also had her friend Courtney who was visiting, and who will be working in Yoho this summer. Together, we set off to hike The Orphan in Kananaskis, located on the Smith-Dorrien Trail. We’d intended to meet up with some of their friends from Calgary, but after waiting in the parking lot for a half hour, we decided to set off… Only to later learn they’d been waiting for us in a different spot and had set off on their own when they’d tired of waiting!

The hike itself began quite easily, as we followed the creek bed for several kilometres. We had screenshots of Emmanuelle’s guide book, but it dated to before the 2013 Alberta floods, so all of the markers were completely gone. Instead, it turned out to be a lot of rock and creek hopping all the way up until the end of the canyon.


Once at the end of the creek bed, we crossed over a snow patch and began our scramble up to the summit. So far there’d been very little elevation, so here’s where it kicked into high gear. (Get it??)

Looking up the scramble after yet another creek crossing
Looking dead ahead to The Orphan
Climbing up the slab!


Once having reached Boulder Pass, sitting smack dab between The Rimwall and The Orphan, we sat down for lunch in the sunshine. It was a hot, sunny day! To our right we had an unbelievable view of the Rimwall, another popular hike. Behind us we had stunning snow-capped mountain ranges and a view of the Spray Lakes.

Looking at The Rimwall


After lunch we continued on shortly to the true summit of The Orphan where we met up with our missing friends. Without breaks, it only took us about 30 minutes to climb from the top of the creek, where it becomes a meadowy scree to the top. The view overlooking the foothills stretching into the prairies was too beautiful, and we were right next door to the famous Three Sisters Mountains! The Orphan is named as such because until 2000, it’s steep walls went unnoticed between the bigger cliffs of Rimwall and the Three Sisters.


The Three Sisters


Courtney, myself & Emmanuelle
As far into the foothills as the eye can see
I live for these views
First scramble of the season done!

For a relatively easy scramble, not a far drive and doable in just a couple of hours, this one’s a keeper on the list for future afternoon hikes!

* Some of the photos are thanks to Emmanuelle!

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