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  Phone: 403 678 4164 - 1 866 678 4164
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Dates and Prices

Price

$1155 CDN includes instruction, guides, dinners and use of technical climbing gear. Because we are based from the highway and several options are available, breakfasts and lunches and accommodation are not included in this price.

We can supply camping gear and a breakfast and lunch food package for you for an extra $237 plus tax.

Trip Cancellation Insurance is available through the Simpson Group.

Is it for you?

Participants need prior mountaineering experience. In the context of the Yamnuska program this would be a minimum of  'Intro To Mountaineering' or a combination of 'Snow and Ice Long Weekend' and 'Basic', 'Advanced' or 'Ice Evolution'. Participants must be in really good physical shape as this is a very demanding and arduous program. Climbs are long and you need stamina. We cannot guarantee to cater for those unable to handle this.

More information?

Check out this website compiled by a past guest about this course. This account starts with Intro to Alpine Ice then moves to the Bugaboos.  Trip Report

Intro to Alpine Ice at the Columbia Icefields

With numerous glaciated summits over 11’000 feet, the Columbia Icefields is the perfect venue to learn the skills to climb alpine ice faces and push your ability to the next level. This course will focus on the technical side of alpine ice climbing including steeper climbing techniques, snow and ice anchors, leading multi pitch routes as well as understanding and assessing mountain hazards. The ice faces on the Columbia Icefields area are world famous alpine objectives. The North Face and Silverhorn of Mt Athabasca and Sky Ladder on Mt Andromeda are well known objectives of the area that bring climbers from all over the world. Participants will be given the opportunity to do some leads while learning the technical components of alpine anchor building, lead belaying, and route finding. Whether you plan to lead climb or follow on alpine snow and ice routes this program will introduce you to the required skills to climb more advanced routes and peaks.

Our Approach: Objectives & Instruction

The objective of the course is to introduce you to the skills needed to climb steeper snow and ice routes than those encountered on beginner level courses. Many of the Rockies' best alpine snow and ice routes are found in this area and, whenever possible they will be incorporated into the program.

Many of the harder climbs in this area are quite long and can take up to 14 hours return; elevation gain is typically around 1450m or 4,800ft. We have found that the best approach is to alternate the longer days with shorter instruction days or shorter climbs. On instructional days we primarily cover topics specific to alpine snow and ice climbing. If time permits we may be able to review general mountaineering topics with you.

Teaching on the 'instructional' days will be based on explanation and demonstration of techniques followed by ample opportunity to practice. These techniques will then be used on climbing days. The guide will lead a climb, demonstrating the appropriate techniques and imparting his or her knowledge to you. This includes not only alpine climbing systems but also the mental approach, drive, and judgment that fuel the successful mountaineer.

To give the best mountain experience and to enhance safety, instructor to participant ratios on climbing days do not exceed 1:2. Training days are at a ratio of 1:6.

Sample Course Agenda

Day 1: Meet at 9:00am at the Columbia Icefields campground cook shelter. We will issue and check equipment before heading out for advanced instruction on crampon, technical ice axe use and ice anchors. We will also review and build on intermediate level crevasse rescue skills. This is typically done on the Athabasca glacier or the lower glacial slopes of Mt Athabasca.

Day 2: After discussing and completing a daily hazard evaluation we will walk to our instruction site. Today we will cover snow climbing techniques, snow anchors, belaying and the multi pitch system. Our normal venue is under the East face of Mt Athabasca and its satellite peak A2.

Day 3: We will put all of our skills to use on a long and classic alpine route. This is a guide led day. Objectives completed on previous intro to Alpine Ice courses have been Mt Athabasca 3491m (11,454 ft.)  by the Silverhorn route, the North Face, the North Face/NE Ridge routes and Mt Andromeda 3500m (11,483 ft.) by the North Bowl or Skyladder routes. Expect to be on the mountain for up to 14 hours with over 1400m of elevation gain.

Day 4: On our final day we will transfer our newly learned multi pitch skills to steeper glacier ice where ice protection, V-threads and belays will be used. Racking of equipment, movement skills, route selection and technical descent systems will also be covered. Student leads with direct supervision from your guide will transfer your new skills to steep alpine ice.   The course wraps up after the climbing day has been completed.

Curriculum  

There is considerable flexibility built into the delivery of this program. Snow and weather conditions will dictate the order of presentation to a greater or lesser degree. It is planned that three of the course days will be climbing days where techniques learnt will be used during the ascent of actual snow and ice routes. Commonly climbed routes include the 'ice apron' on A2, Athabasca by 'Standard', 'Silverhorn', and North Face routes. Other routes climbed less frequently include Andromeda by the 'Skyladder'. It must be emphasized that participants will not be taken on climbs for which the instructors do not consider them ready or where conditions present undue hazard.

Core Topics include:

  • Ice Climbing Skills:

    • Crampon use (flat point, front point, combined)
    • Use of Ice Tools
    • Movement techniques on low, moderate & steep ice
    • Belaying on Ice
    • Placing ice screws
    • Placing protection
    • Anchor construction incuding V-Threads
  • Belaying Skills:
    • Belay devices and techniques for lead climbing and following
    • Belay techniques for three-man ropes
  • Hazard Evaluation & Route Selection:
    • Cornices, Seracs, Avalanche, Rock Fall, Bergshrunds
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