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Cheam Range (Four Sisters)
Parent Area: Skagit Range
 

Area: 113 sq km. Location: The Cheam range starts on the southeast side of the Fraser Valley near Bridal Falls and continues east to the headwaters of Foley Creek. This range is customarily known by long-time residents of the Central and Upper Fraser Valley as the "Four Sisters" (as only four of its peaks are readily visible from the west). Terrain: The range is only about 10 km long and fairly narrow with a series of tighly bunched peaks. The rock is usually of poorer quality than other areas in the Chilliwack Valley. All peaks can be climbed in a long day from the nearest road. Here is a link describing the <a href=http://www.bivouac.com/TripPg.asp?TripId=4757>traverse route for the entire Cheam Range</a> which takes 2 long or 3 short days. History: Cheam is a Sto:Lo word meaning "place of wild strawberries". The peaks each had a name in Halkomelem and associated legends. The range was visited for goat and marmot hunting, berry picking and religious rituals. These latter practices continue today. Reportedly, the natives did not consider attaining the summits of the peaks particularly worthwhile. On the first recorded ascent of Stewart Peak, two natives in the goat hunting party declined to go to the summit as there was no game there.

Early European settlers made the first ascents of the easier peaks in the late 19th century, not as specific mountaineering objectives, but in the course of goat hunting expeditions. Climbing Cheam became incredibly popular, and the ascent was made by hundreds of people during holidays in the early 1900's. The last unclimbed peak to fall was the difficult fin of Baby Munday in the 1930's.

The peaks Foley, Welch and Stewart were named for three principals of the Lucky Four Mine. These men were also the principals of general contracting firm Foley, Welch & Stewart, builders of the Grand Trunk Railway in BC. Construction of the GTP between Yellowhead Pass and Prince Rupert began in 1907 and completed in 1914. The railway was declared bankrupt in 1916. Originally estimated to cost $80 million, the final cost was $120 million. FW&S had a cost-plus contract which coupled with the difficult terrain (muskeg and mountains) led to adventurous construction practices, some of them ineffective. Despite the generous financial cushion in the contract, FW&S had a ungenerous reputation among the workers. The company might just as well have stood for Frig, Work & Starve in relation to the company's concern for their welfare. Additional to the general concern, 20 men died in one year ferrying construction supplies on barges through the Grand Canyon of the Fraser. Foley, Welch & Stuart were also the contractors on the construction of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway to Lillooet from Newport (Squamish) in the same period.

In the 1970's and 1980's, the Cheam Range became known for winter mountaineering potential. Its volcanic, ledgy rock, while offering scant opportunity for protection in summer, freezes up and accumulates snow and ice in the winter, making it an ideal destination.

Top Trips
A Perfect Day on Welch Peak Brad Braun
Kootenays Road Trip and Three Alpine Meadow Trips Robin Tivy
Cheam Range Traverse Route Drew Brayshaw
Cheam Peak NW Face - Possible Second Ascent Drew Brayshaw
Smithers Road Trip in the big smoke Robin Tivy
Early Season Ice in the Cheam Range Drew Brayshaw
Baby Munday Peak - North Face or Whatever Fred Touche
Cheam NE Ridge Nicholas Gobin
North East Ridge of Foley Jesse Mason
Baby Munday (North), Stewart Peak, and The Still Tim Gage
More Trips

Top Photos
The Northeast Face of Welch Peak Andrew Rennie
Cheam Range Sunset from East Justin Brown
Welch and Foley Greg Jones
Baby Munday from Laughington Simon Chesterton
Southeast Side of Foley in Winter Jordan Peters
The Still - North Face Greg Jones
Foley Peak Simon Chesterton
Knight Peak Morning Light Pat Graham
Downclimbing Lady Peak Pat Graham
The Still Pat Graham
More Photos


Paper Maps