The mountains near Lake Louise are considered the birthplace of Canadian mountaineering. Since the establishment of the Canadian Pacific Railroad, the peaks that dominate the sky around Lake Louise in Banff National Park remain classic objectives for mountaineers and alpinists. The routes we chose for this program will test your skills and help you develop new techniques. The scenery is only outdone by the overwhelming sense of accomplishment you’ll undoubtedly feel after participating in this classic mountaineering trip.
Our objectives this week are the spectacular summits surrounding Lake Louise and Moraine Lake: Mt. Victoria, Mt. Lefroy, Mt Fay, Mt Little and Schaffer to name a few. This is going to be a terrific week of guided alpine climbing. And, if you’re pressed for time, you can join us for the first three days only.
Our goal is to have an enjoyable and challenging week of alpine mountaineering on the large peaks surrounding Lake Louise.
From the Abbott Pass Hut at 2890m (9500 ft.) some of the peaks we can access are:
Mt. Victoria (3464m or 11,362 ft.) by the S.E. Ridge. This is an enjoyable and exposed climb along a narrow ridge that can either be heavily snowed up with large cornices or can be a cat walk along ridge top ledges later in the season.
Mt. Lefroy (3423m or 11,227 ft.) by the West Face. This face is riven by gullies that are filled initially by snow which becomes ice as the season progresses. Note: Early season departures are more likely to have a summit attempt on Mt Lefroy. Other options later in the season include a descent via the Furman ledges to lake Louise or a peak in the Lake O’Hara area such as Wiwaxy or Shafer.
From the Neil Colgan Hut we can access:
Mt. Fay (3234m. or 10,607 ft.) by the standard West Ridge on rock. We access the mountain from Moraine Lake via the famous Perren Route and stay at the Neil Colgan Hut, the highest permanent structure in Canada.
Other peaks in this area include: Mts. Huber, Lyttle, Quadra, Bowlen and Bident.
Sample Agenda (weather and conditions will dictate our objectives for this program)
Day 1: We meet at the Yamnuska office in Canmore at 7:30am. After introductions, a review of goals and objectives we drive west to Lake Louise to catch the 10:30am shuttle to Lake O’Hara. Then we start the climb up to the Abbott Pass Hut, our base for the next two nights. We will review climbing and travel techniques before going to bed for an early start.
Day 2: At first light head towards Mt. Lefroy immediately east of the hut. We climb the steep snow and ice gullies to the summit. In good conditions this is a relatively straight forward snow and ice climb.
Day 3: Again at first light we start the climb of Mt. Victoria right behind the outhouse! We start up broken rock and snow slopes before reaching the ridge before the first summit. A long traverse over the ‘sickle’ and up again brings us finally to the South (highest) Summit. If conditions are good it may be an option to descend towards Mt. Huber for a climb of that peak before descending the Huber Ledges to Lake O’Hara then returning to Lake Louise for the night at the Alpine Centre. This will be a long day. (Dinner not included)
Day 4: We check out of the Alpine Centre today with our objective to reach the Neil Colgan hut. We climb out of Moraine Lake, typically taking the Perren Route, to reach the Neil Colgan Hut below Mt. Lyttle. Those with some energy left may scramble up Mt. Bowlen in the evening.
Day 5: Climb Mt. Fay, via the rock ridge on the N.W. side.
Day 6: A short climb on Mt. Lyttle behind the hut before heading down the Perren route rappels and on down to Moraine Lake where the program finishes and you will have earned a rest.
The maximum guide to guest ratio on this program is 1:2. Yamnuska Mountain Adventures only employs qualified ACMG or IFMGA certified guides and assistant guides who are licensed to operate in the area by Parks Canada. The maximum group size is 6.
The program begins at the Yamnuska office at 07:30am on Day 1. The Yamnuska office is located at 200, 50 Lincoln Park. See this map for location.
Transportation while on the program is not included. We rely on guest’s personal vehicles to reach program locations. If flying in we recommend you rent a car from Calgary Airport. You may be able to share the cost with other participants.
During the trip we will stay at Alpine Club Mountain Huts and the Lake Louise Alpine Centre.
Accommodation in Canmore 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.
All meals, snacks and beverages are supplied from lunch on Day 1 to lunch on on the final day of your program, with the exception of Dinner on Day 3 (at the Lake Louise Alpine Centre) for those on the 6 day program. Mountain meals are prepared from lightweight wholesome ingredients. 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 $16/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.
Equipment and Clothing
The equipment and clothing you bring to this course will play a large role in the quality of your experience. Read the following suggestions and lists carefully. If you have any questions or need clarification, don’t hesitate to call or email.
Group climbing gear such as ropes and hardware is provided, but we recommend bringing your own personal climbing gear. Please let us know if you would like to use the following Yamnuska gear:
- Mountaineering ice axe
- Climbing harness
- Climbing helmet
- Belay device and pear shaped locking carabiners
- Prussic cord, slings, carabiners and gear (we suggest 2 locking carabiners, 2 non-locking carabiners, 1 ice screw, 1 x 120cm sewn sling, 2 x 5m by 7mm cord)
You will need to bring:
- Mountaineering boots* (must be crampon compatible)
- Rockshoes (optional – may be used in poor weather conditions)
- Multiday pack* (55–65 litres)
- Daypack (25-30 litres), (optional)
- Sleeping bag*
- Water bottle (1-2 litres)
- Sunscreen, SPF lip balm
- Headlamp (with fresh batteries)
- Ear plugs
- Blister kit
- First aid items (Our guides carry a first aid kit, but you may bring your own Band-Aids and anti-inflammatory medication if desired.)
- Trekking pole (optional)
*These items are available for rent. Please advise us in advance.
When mountaineering, it is important to be able to adjust for the changing conditions. We recommend bringing clothing that can be layered to achieve comfort as you change from periods of activity to periods of rest. Cotton clothing is not appropriate as it causes rapid heat loss when wet.
We recommend you bring:
- Long underwear top and bottoms (light weight synthetic or wool)
- Socks (synthetic/wool, at least two pairs)
- Light synthetic shirt
- Softshell pants and jacket
- Midweight synthetic or down jacket
- Heavyweight insulated jacket
- Waterproof hardshell jacket with hood
- Waterproof hardshell pants (should have a full length side zip so they can be put on without taking off boots and crampons)
- Gaiters (big enough to fit over large boots)
- Waterproof mountaineering or ice climbing gloves (at least two pairs)
- Warm hat that fits under a helmet
- Sun hat
- Running shoes or sandals
Additional gear info:
Backpack: It is possible to use just one multiday backpack (55-70 litres), as long as it is comfortable enough to wear while climbing. If bringing an additional day pack, this should be very light and compressible in order to fit inside the bigger pack on the approach.
Sleeping bag: We recommend a three-season bag rated to approximately -2° C. A down bag will be lighter and more compressible for the weight than a synthetic bag. A compression stuff sack is recommended to reduce volume.
Mountaineering boots: A good pair of mountaineering boots is essential. One good option is leather or synthetic mountaineering boots with either a semi-rigid or a rigid sole that is crampon compatible. You are welcome to try the Scarpa Mont Blanc boots that Yamuska rents.
Crampons: Mountaineering crampons should have anti snow-balling plates, and need to be compatible with your boots. We use the Petzl Vasak.
Mountaineering ice axe: Your ice axe should be 55-70 cm, and should be equipped with an adze. Yamnuska provides the Petzl Summit Axe.
Climbing harness: Should be sized to fit over your cold weather clothing. It is recommended to have a harness with a belay/rappel loop.
Helmet: A comfortable, all around climbing helmet that can fit over your winter hat.
Please book as early as practical to avoid disappointment.
We require a 35% deposit including GST at the time of booking. Final balance is due 8 weeks before the program start date.
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.
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. There is no charge for rescue in the national and provincial parks, however costs such as air or ground transportation, long term care and other services are not covered.
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.
Six-day program: $2350 CDN includes guiding, hut fees, out trip meals, Park Wilderness Pass and use of technical equipment. Dinner (Day 3) at the Lake Louise Alpine Centre is not included.
Three-day program: $1350 CDN includes guiding, hut fees, out trip meals, Park Wilderness Pass and use of technical equipment.
Not included: Canmore accommodation, Gratuities & taxes.
Trip Cancellation Insurance is available through the Simpson Group.
Is it for you?
This is a strenuous and demanding program involving lots of height gain, not only to the peaks but also to the huts. So you need to be in good shape as this program involves six consecutive days of high climbing. You need to have at least basic mountaineering experience. In the context of Yamnuska’s program we suggest you have at least Snow and Ice Long Weekend or Intro to Mountaineering.