Day 1: Welcome, introductions, course agenda and goals. Begin preparation for first trip.
Advanced Mountain Hiking & Scrambling Skills
In addition to navigation, route finding, trip planning and general movement and pacing skills you will begin to get to know and to work with your fellow participants. During the following weeks the group's ability to function well together will be crucial to the success of the program.
Day 2 - 6: Five-day Alpine trekking Traverse
A five - day trip into less traveled, more demanding hiking and mountaineering terrain. Subjects covered include group management, wilderness travel, scrambling skills, navigation, map and compass, route planning and wilderness 'Leave no Trace' practices.
Day 7: Day off in Canmore
A well-earned rest and the chance to catch up on some personal maintenance.
This is a major part of the Semester. We will be working on all aspects of rock climbing over the next 7 days. We will then revisit rock work on the first mountaineering segment to be held among the rock peaks of the Bugaboos.
Day 8 - 11: Rock Skills in the Bow Valley
The rock in our area varies from sandstone to limestone to quartzite, each type with its unique qualities. From a camp at Bow Valley Park we will visit different areas each day to learn the skills of rock climbing from the ground up. In tandem with rock performance training and movement skills will be comprehensive and detailed instruction in safety and belay systems including: 'trad' (use of nuts, camming devices etc) gear placements, anchor building, various belay systems, lead skills (sport and 'trad'), self-rescue and rescue, multi-pitch systems.
Day 12 - 14: Advanced Rock
For the next three days the emphasis shifts to multi-pitch climbing on the big limestone wall that encloses the Bow Valley. Climbing with instructors in small teams (1:2) you will be able to apply your new skills to long climbs which demand far more efficiency and better route finding judgment.
Day 15 - 16: Two days off in Canmore
Alpine Mountaineering on Rock, Snow and Ice
The final two parts of the program are dedicated to learning the skills associated with climbing glaciated peaks. You will learn how to travel safely on a glacier plus how to rescue yourself or your partner from a crevasse, you will be learn how to climb safely on rock, snow and ice in two world famous areas: the Bugaboos and the Columbia Icefields.
Day 17 - 21: General Mountaineering Skills and Alpine Ice at the Columbia Icefields
The great peaks of the Columbia Icefields rise abruptly next to the Banff-Jasper Parkway. Heavy glaciation means alpine ice climbing, not only for the experts challenging famous route such as the 'Andromeda Strain' but also for those of us wishing to learn and to experience for the first time the visceral excitement that alpine ice provides. The icy peak of Athabasca is a great classroom and its steeper routes are great finales for this program.
Day 22 - 23: Two days off in Canmore
Day 24 - 29: General Mountaineering Skills and Alpine Rock in the Bugaboos
The 'Bugs' are one of North America's most famous climbing areas. This world-renowned climbers' paradise with its awesome granite spires, beautiful glaciers and lush, green valleys attracts alpinists from around the world. We can't imagine a better place in which to be initiated into the skills and techniques needed for general mountaineering and on alpine rock routes.
From our base at the spacious Conrad Kain Hut we can easily reach the perfect training areas to be found on the Bugaboo Glacier and in the Crescent Spires each day. We will be working on general snow and glacier techniques as we approach rock spires where we'll be applying our rock climbing skills to alpine situations. Alpine rock is an important facet of mountaineering that requires an ability to quickly choose the appropriate technique for every situation so as to maximize both safety and speed. Here we introduce peer short roping, natural belays and other important mountaineering techniques.
Later in the week the West Ridge of Pigeon Spire, one of the most enjoyable intermediate alpine rock routes in the world, will be our objective.
Day 30: Debrief day in Canmore culminating in a graduation dinner.