For beginners, experts, visitors, locals, families, individuals and groups.The best ice climbing in the world is found in the Canadian Rockies surrounding Banff, Canmore and Lake Louise. Waterfall ice climbing is an unbelievably exhilarating sport and we invite you to experience it with Yamnuska's ice climbing guides.
Yamnuska guides and instructors are certified by the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides and are among the best in their field. In addition to our technical excellence they're great communicators and coaches. They are members of a guiding team that shares current conditions and technical tips on a daily basis. Staff training and mentoring by our most senior guides ensures uniformly high standards for all of our guides. This is unmatched in the industry. Located in Canmore Alberta in the heart of the Canadian Rockies Ice we have extensive experience as ice climbing guides for virtually every ice route in western Canada.
"Great private program. Learned a lot from our guide about ice climbing, technique, equipment use, anchor systems, and much more. We also did some pretty awesome climbs at a remote location not everyone gets to go to when they are learning. I would most certainly book with Yam again." - Jayme, Edmonton, AB - December 2012
Daily Ice Climbing Lesson Locations
There are several great ice climbing locations that can be readily accessed for daily lessons or trips from our office in Canmore, Alberta Canada. They include:
Grassi Lakes: "The Junkyards" 10 minutes drive from Canmore followed by a 20 minute walk. A great spot for first time ice climbers and those wishing to brush up on skills.
King Creek: 40 minute drive from Canmore in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. Good beginner location for a full-day of climbing with some challenging short climbs to finish on.
Johnston Canyon: 20 minutes drive west of Banff. Good for steep climbing practice.
Haffner Creek: 40 minutes drive west of Banff. Excellent variety of steeper climbs and mixed climbs.
Guides & Guide Ratios
The "Yam Ice Team" includes some of the best ice climbing guides and instructors anywhere! Enthusiastic and extremely talented, they hold climbing certification from the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides and from other International Federation of Mountain Guide Association (IFMGA) countries. Your safety and enjoyment are paramount to them.
The "Yam Ice Team" includes Jason Billing, Steve Blagbrough, Barry Blanchard, Pat Delaney, Jesse De Montigny, Grant Meekins, Matt Mueller, Nick Rapaich, Simon Robins, Erica Roles and Nick Sharpe.
The maximum guide to client ratio for guided multi-pitch climbs is 1:2
There are many, many climbs to do and they are spread throughout the Canadian Rockies in our region. This is just a small sampler of what is feasible.
When making your booking you can specify the climbs you'd like to do or we can suggest climbs for you. The guide will retain the final say on what climbs are attempted as you must have demonstrated (either by having suitable prior experience or by climbing less serious objectives first) that you have the appropriate ability. Finally climbing and avalanche conditions must be safe.
Yamnuska ice climbing guides are available to guide grade 2 - 6 climbs. Surcharges will be applied to more difficult and serious climbs.
Cascade Falls: Scenic grade 3 route right outside Banff. Best December through to mid-February.
Professor Falls: Shaded gulch just east of Banff Golf course (1 hour walk) with several grade 4 pitches.
Johnston Canyon Falls: These famous falls freeze over into a variety of grade 3 - 5 single pitch routes.
Many climbs in grade 4 -5 range reached from Smith-Dorian Highway and Highway 40.
A wide range of excellent climbs reached after a 2 hour drive from Canmore. 4WD vehicle necessary.
Field / Lake Louise Area
A great area with lots of climbs in the grade 3 - 5 range in a small area. Includes:
Lake Louise Falls: Grade 3 - 5, 30 minutes walk from Chateau Lake Louise.
Guinness Gully: Above Field B.C. (20 min west of Lake Louise, 1 hour from Canmore), grade 4.
Massey Gully: Above Field, grade 3.
Carlsberg Pillar: Above Field, grade 5.
Bow Falls: A ski access from Bow Lake of 1-2 hours. Grade 4 - 5
Weeping Wall: Right above the road, 2 hours drive from Canmore. Several lines. Grade 4 - 5.
Polar Circus: Also right above the road. A famous grade 5. You need to be experienced, fast and willing to pay a surcharge.
Meeting Place & Time
Unless otherwise specified we will meet you at the Yamnuska office at 200, 50 Lincoln Park, Canmore. See this map for location. The meeting time will be set when you make your booking.
Transportation is not usually included but may be able to be provided. Clients generally provide transportation for the guide. If there is a vehicle available, Yamnuska can provide transportation for a pick-up in Banff or Canmore at an additional cost of $50 plus a fuel surcharge if climbing anywhere other than the "Junkyards".
For insurance reasons guides cannot transport clients. We suggest you rent a car whilst in the area. If necessary transport can be arranged either using a Yamnuska van or a taxi service. If a guide has to drive beyond Canmore to meet you for the climb gas charges apply.
Park Entry Fees
If climbing in Banff, Kootenay, Yoho or Jasper National parks daily entry fees apply. These are approximately $9/day per client and can be obtained on entry.
Most people stay in Canmore if here to ice climb, this is most convenient. Otherwise you can stay in Banff or Lake Louise. In this case you will be charged for the guide's gas expenses for driving to meet you. Go to our links page for accommodation options.
What you need to bring
Lunch & Snacks
These are not included save by special arrangement. Make sure you bring plenty of high-energy snacks plus plenty to drink. A Thermos with a hot drink is a good idea.
Clothing & Equipment List
This is not included though we do have boots, packs & climbing gear for rent. Rental Gear Prices
There can be periods of inactivity in very cold temperatures. Don't be afraid to bring too much! We suggest bringing light clothing of varying thicknesses that can be 'layered' to achieve comfort and versatility. The most important consideration for clothing is the ability to regulate temperature as you change from periods of activity to periods of rest. We discourage cotton clothing as it causes rapid heat loss when wet. Ski wear works well.
We suggest you bring:
- Long underwear (top & bottom), polypro, wool or fleece.
- Warm pants (pref. insulated or fleece)
- Warm shirt (not cotton)
- Sweater (medium or lightweight)
- Fleece Jacket (heavyweight)
- Insulated jacket or vest
- Waterproof jacket with hood (Gore-Tex or nylon)
- Waterproof pants (Gore-Tex or nylon)
- Socks (wool outer & polypro liner)
- Wool or fleece hat that will cover ears & fit under helmet
- Waterproof climbing gloves &/or mitts plus spares.
- Knee-length Gaiters
- Neck tube.
- Daypack (large enough for spare clothing, your lunch & climbing gear e.g. rope & crampons). $4/day to rent.
- Thermos flask and/or water bottle (full!)
- Sun cream
If bringing your own gear you will need to bring:
- Mountaineering boots (plastic or synthetic)
- Crampons (Must fit your boots or be easily adjustable)
- Climbing Harness
- Climbing Helmet
- Ice tools
To book guided climbing you must call or email our office. Registration requires a deposit of 35% of the cost or, for trips of three days or less, full payment. All guests must fill in an experience questionnaire. Please note that you will be required to sign our waiver before commencing the program. Please view our sample waiver copy.
Balance of payment is required eight weeks before trip commencement. Should you cancel more than eight weeks in advance of trip, a $105 cancellation fee will apply. Cancellation between six and eight weeks before trip commencement will mean a loss of your deposit. Cancellation less than six weeks before trip commencement will result in a loss of all payments made.
To book or inquire about guided climbs:
Call 1 866 678 4164 (Canada, US only) or +1 403 678 4164 (other countries) or 403 678 4164 (local)
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 and International Travelers. We highly recommend purchasing this insurance. For more information and to purchase a plan, visit the Simpson Group’s website.