At 3,959m or 12,989 feet Mount Robson is the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. Climbers come from around the world to attempt its icy flanks and summit. The Robson Massif creates its own climate and with all of the world’s great peaks, the summit is never assured but is always an adventure. Mt Robson is a much sought after test piece for experienced mountaineers.
This is a truly challenging objective for those with a number of intermediate and advanced peaks under their belt. Reaching the summit of Mt Robson is for many the ultimate Canadian Rockies mountaineering objective.
Mt. Robson is the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies and its summit elevation is 3959m. It’s located on the western edge of the range, 100km west of Jasper in British Columbia’s Mount Robson Provincial Park. Its massive bulk, the first massif that moist westerlies hit after crossing B.C. results in a moist local micro-climate . At its base is temperate rainforest more typical of the coast and its upper heights are cloaked in the massive glaciation that makes it such a beautiful and challenging climb.
We prefer to attempt the the Kain Face on the N.E. side of the peak, it was the first ascent route in 1913. Now it is much steeper as the glaciers have changed. It is a serious climb involving some objective hazards and while the climbing is not extremely technical (45 – 550 snow and ice), conditions and weather can increase the challenge considerably. The summit day is often long and demanding and can take 14 hours or more. Even mid summer can mean that avalanche risk and snow conditions put the peak out of climbing condition.
Other routes on the mountain include the Schwarz Ledges on the South Face. Overhung by unstable seracs this route is not very appealing. Harder routes include the North Face and the Fuhrer Ridge, these are routes we would only consider guiding with guests who have already built up a climbing relationship with our guides or have an extensive technical climbing resume.
Sample Robson Itineraries:
Day 1: We meet at 6am (MST) in Canmore and drive via the Icefields Parkway and the Yellowhead Highway to Robson Provincial Park (4.5hrs). We hike for 7 km to Kinney Lake, where we set up camp for the first night.
Day 2: From Kinney Lake we hike along the Berg Lake Trail thru the Valley of a Thousand Falls and Emperor Falls to Robson Pass Camp at the far end of Berg Lake .
Day 3: Leaving Berg Lake behind us, we make our way to the Extinguisher Camp beside the Robson Glacier.
Day 4: We climb to the Dome via the Robson-Resplendant col or the Mouse Trap, depending on conditions.
Day 5: This is our first summit attempt day via the Kain Face route. Expect to be out for 14 or more hours. Leaving high camp in the very early hours of the morning we head to the base of the ‘Kain Face’ and commence 550m of climbing on snow, ice or both with angles reaching 50 degrees. From here the challenge continues. The route follows a beautiful snow and ice ridge that leads to the steep slopes circumventing the ‘Roof’ and, finally, the last section to the summit. To descend we reverse the climb!
Day 6: Second summit attempt if poor conditions on day 5. Mt Resplendent if conditions allow or begin the descent.
Day 7: Descend to Berg Lake
Day 8: Hike out and return to Canmore
This is a long and physically demanding itinerary. In the past, some guests who have opted for this itinerary have found themselves physically exhausted and not capable of the long day required for the summit attempt. This approach can also be technically challenging and is only recommended for those who are in exception physical condition in addition to having the appropriate technical skills.
Option 2: (Pending Helicopter Flight availability – see Day 6 & 7 notes below)
Day 1: Meet at 6am (MST) then drive to Robson Provincial Park (4.5hrs) from Canmore, fly to the ‘Dome’ at 3000m. This is located just below the Kain Face.
Day 2: Acclimatization and training day.
Day 3: Summit attempt via Kain Face route. Expect to be out for 14 or more hours. Leaving high camp in the very early hours of the morning we head to the base of the ‘Kain Face’ and commence 550m of climbing on snow, ice or both with angles reaching 500. From here the challenge continues. The route follows a beautiful snow and ice ridge that leads to the steep slopes circumventing the ‘Roof’ and finally, the last section to the summit. To descend we reverse the climb!
Day 4: Spare day for another summit attempt; or, if weather permits and we were successful the previous day, we may fly out early and head to the Columbia Icefields for another climb on the last day.
Day 5: Either fly out from the Dome or do a final climb in the Columbia Icefields. Return to Canmore where the trip finishes. This can be a long day, so make travel plans accordingly.
*Days 6 & 7: There are no scheduled flights to the ‘Dome’ and it is only possible to confirm flights 1 day prior to departure. As a result is is necessary to plan a minimum of 7 days for a Mt Robson Climb. Should a flight to the ‘Dome’ become available and you decide to take this option you can use the extra days to climb other peaks in the area or elsewhere with your guide.
Please contact the Yamnuska office for a quote.
Trip Cancellation Insurance is available through the Simpson Group.
For guests with dietary restrictions, we are able to modify the program food pack to meet your individual needs. As food pricing and preparation for these diets is more costly, we have implemented the following surcharges. For vegan, gluten free, lactose free, soy free, nut free or any similar type of single restriction menu requests there will be a $15/day surcharge. For a diet requiring any 2 restrictions a $25/day surcharge will apply. For any 3 restrictions a $30/day surcharge will apply. Vegetarian meals will not be surcharged. For more complex diets our kitchen staff will assess the restrictions to inform you if the diet can be accommodated and what surcharge would apply.
Notes on hiring a guide
When hiring a guide we quote you guide fees plus expenses. Expenses you will incur include the cost of transportation for yourself and the guide to Mount Robson, camping gear rentals if applicable, Provincial Park fees and meals (for the guide also). In addition there is the cost of any helicopter flights. To simplify things we have offered the 5-day package price outlined above.
Because this depends upon flying conditions and whether or not the flight is shared with other groups, we cannot accurately predict this cost. Therefore we do not include this in our price. Instead we arrange for you to pay this cost directly to Yellowhead Helicopters (we will help facilitate this). For flights to and from the Dome the price without other groups sharing costs currently ranges between $1350 and $1750 Cdn one way for up to 2 passengers. Robson Meadows is slightly cheaper.
We do not usually supply transportation and you are also responsible for the cost of the guide’s transportation to the area. We suggest you pick the guide up in Canmore on your way to Mount Robson.
Weather and Alternates
Mount Robson is known for its variable weather and it is important to realize that reaching the summit is very weather dependent. We have experienced a 50% success rate over the years. This is a realistic and competitive success rate. Be weary of those advertising higher success rates.
Any booking made for a Mount Robson trip cannot be cancelled at short notice due to weather or climbing conditions. This is because in accepting a booking on Mount Robson other guiding work will have been turned down. Should Mount Robson be unsafe or the weather unsuitable then the guides will organize alternate climbs in the region or elsewhere.
Thus participants must not only be in excellent shape for high climbing they must also be willing to adapt to whatever the weather forces upon us.
Guides and Guide Ratios
The guides assigned to lead Mount Robson climbs are fully-certified Mountain or Alpine Guides. They have been certified by the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) or by other member countries of the International Federation of Mountain Guide Associations (IFMGA). Where numbers warrant a second guide, he or she could also be an ACMG Assistant Alpine Guide. Yamnuska’s guides operate within the official terrain guidelines of the ACMG and Yamnuska also is licensed to operate on the peak by Mount Robson Provincial Park.
The maximum ratio on a Mount Robson climb is 1:1.
Getting to Mount Robson
Mount Robson is located in Mount Robson Provincial Park which is 100km west of Jasper on Highway 16. For ease of logistics we suggest you arrive via Calgary, travel 120km to Canmore where you can overnight then in the morning meet the guide pickup the supplies and gear before driving north to Mount Robson via the Icefields Parkway and Jasper. If flying to the region we would suggest you pick up a rental car at Calgary Airport that you can use for the trip.
Pre & Post Trip Accommodation
Accommodation in Canmore pre and post-trip is not included. A variety of accommodation options exist in both Canmore and Banff, including campsites, hostels, all levels of hotels as well as condo style accommodation with kitchens or suites. We recommend that you book your own pre and post-trip accommodations well in advance as all levels of accommodations in the Bow Valley fill quickly.
Equipment and Clothing
We supply group camping and climbing gear and suggest you bring your own personal climbing gear (e.g. harness, helmet, ice axe, ice tools), clothing and general equipment. We can lend you a harness, helmet, ice axe, ice tool and crampons if required. Let us know, in advance, what you will need.
The equipment and clothing you bring with you will play a large role in the quality of your experience. It should be lightweight, durable and in good condition. You must be familiar with the function of your equipment. Make sure that it fits and that it works with other items of your equipment before you come. You don’t want it to let you down at 12,000ft.
Read the following suggestion list carefully. If you have any questions or need clarification don’t hesitate to call or write. There is room for substitution and changes but if you have any doubt, do contact us.
We suggest layers of light, easily carried clothing that allow for fast and easy adjustment to best suit fast changing temperature conditions. We discourage cotton clothing as it causes rapid heat loss when wet. Feel free to call us if you have any questions about what to bring.
You will need to bring:
- Wool/blend socks – 2-3 pairs synthetic or wool
- Underwear – 2-3 pairs
- Long underwear – top and bottom – synthetic or wool
- Soft shell climbing pants – these should be windproof nylon/synthetic blend mountaineering pants
- Outer pants – waterproof and preferably with side zips on legs (Gore-Tex)
- T-shirt – synthetic or wool
- Mid-weight top – synthetic or wool
- Soft shell jacket – this should be a windproof nylon/synthetic blend jacket
- Outer jacket – waterproof with a hood (Gore-Tex)
- Insulated jacket – synthetic or down
- Gaiters – must fit over mountain boots
- Mountaineering gloves – light weight
- Mountaineering gloves – medium to heavy weight
- Hat – synthetic or wool that covers your ears and fits under a helmet
- Sunhat – with wide brim
CLIMBING EQUIPMENT LIST
You will need to bring: (Items in blue are available to rent from Yamnuska, we can loan you the items in red). You must give us plenty of notice if wanting to rent or loan gear.
- Mountaineering boots – You will need mountaineering boots with rigid soles. Mountaineering boots are made from leather or plastic, but leather is recommended. The most important feature of a mountaineering boot is comfort. Different brands seem to suit different feet. If buying try a few different pairs and if they are not comfortable don’t buy them. There are many good brands. They include Asolo, Kayland, La Sportiva and Scarpa.
- Large backpack – 60-75 liter capacity. Internal frame with accessory straps that is big enough to carry your personal gear and clothing plus your share of group camping gear and food.
- Ice axe – mountaineering axe (minimum 55cm in length)
- Technical ice tool
- Belay device
- Pear shaped biner – 1 light weight
- 5m x 7mm prussik cord – 2
- 120cm sewn sling – 1
- Locking biners – 2 light weight
- Non-locking biners – 2 light weight
- 16-22cm ice screw – 1
- Sunglasses – with 100% UV protection
- Sun cream – extra strength
- Lip cream – with UV protection
- Headlamp – with fresh batteries
- Blister kit – ‘moleskin’, ‘second skin’ etc.
- First aid items – keep this small (band-aids, ibuprofen & aspirin/tylenol, etc.)
- Trekking pole – must be collapsible (optional)
- Bowl – unbreakable, large plastic
- Mug – light weight
- Spoon – plastic
- Pocket knife – light weight
- Sleeping bag – light weight and rated to approximately -10ºC
- Sleeping pad – ‘Thermarest’
- Toilet items – personal items, keep as light as possible
- Stuff sacs – light (optional)
Please contact us directly, by email or phone to arrange a climb. Once a date and guide can be confirmed we will require a deposit of 35% of the cost. Full payment will be required 8 weeks in advance of the climb.
We ask that you familiarize yourself with our detailed booking instructions and conditions.
Please note that you will be required to sign our waiver before commencing the program. Please view our sample waiver copy.
If you need any rental gear please let us know early to ensure its availability.
There are two basic types of insurance that most travelers need to consider: Medical and Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance. We offer our guests coverage for both and highly recommend you purchase it.
Emergency Medical Expenses Insurance:
It is wise to ensure that your health plan will cover you in case of illness or accident during your trip. Obtain extra coverage if necessary. In Mount Robson Provincial Park there may be a charge for rescue if you need to be evacuated by professional services.
Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance:
We recognize that our guests’ schedules may change for many reasons; business, family, flight delays, injuries and other unplanned events. For these eventualities the Trip Cancellation/Interruption insurance is a great way to protect your investment.
For all your travel insurance requirements we recommend the Simpson Group. This agency offers a wide range of travel insurance options including Trip Cancellation/Interruption, Travel Medical and Personal Effect Loss for Canadian Travelers. We highly recommend purchasing this insurance.
Please note that this coverage is for Canadian residents only. For guests who are not from Canada and who are interested in the ‘Visitors to Canada’ insurance package please contact the Simpson Group directly at JSimpson@simpson-group.com and reference your Yamnuska Mountain Adventure’s trip.
See cost details in the itinerary tab
Cancellation Insurance available through the Simpson Group.
Is it for you?
You must have a resume of prior mountaineering experience which includes glacier travel and climbing on steep ice and snow. This is one of our most demanding and challenging climbs. You will also need to be in excellent condition. If you have insufficient experience for this climb consider taking our advanced ‘Intro to Alpine Ice‘ mountaineering program or arrange for at least 4 days of training with our guides beforehand.
If it becomes obvious that you are either not fit enough for the climb or lack the mountaineering skills needed then the guide will organize alternatives if possible. We unfortunately will not be able to provide refunds in this situation as we will have already committed resources.
We require a commitment of at least 7 days for attempts on the Kain Face. This allows a reasonable amount of spare time in case of bad weather which may delay access to and from the peak and limit summit opportunities. Should bad weather further prolong the trip guide fees will be charged for extra days. We will only consider shorter Robson trips if they are imbedded into longer private guiding programs such as where a guest may have booked the guide for at least 7 days in any event.
If the trip is successful early on then the extra days can be used on other climbs in the region.
The snow on the upper peak tends not to stabilize until mid-July. The optimal season is usually mid-July though the 3rd week of August. Some years you can climb right into September but there is a risk that the mountain might be out of condition due to late season storms.