This expedition is designed to prepare participants to organize and successfully plan multi-day ski expeditions. Snow and weather conditions will dictate the order of presentation to some degree. Key topics will be constantly revisited during the program to meet the needs of participants and conditions. This will be a hands on participant lead trip with guidance from a professional Guide. Our objective will also be a summit attempt of Mt. Columbia.
Equipment preparation for ski expeditions
Navigation & route planning
Mountain hazard awareness emphasizing hazard recognition and management, route finding & emergency procedures
Completing a planned expedition! You will find yourself in the lead, solving route finding problems and using new skills to navigate and live in glaciated terrain.
Mountaineering skills to gain rewarding summits!
Day 1: Our first day will cover the pre trip planning skills required for successful ski mountaineering expeditions. This will be held in the Yamnuska office in Canmore starting at 8am. We will be looking at our objective in detail: food planning, equipment needs, tenting and cooking groups, navigation and time plans and doing hazard evaluations for the following day. We will also cover emergency procedures and pack for the trip.
Day 2: The expedition starts! We will drive the 3 hours to the Columbia Icefields where we will gain the Columbia Icefields from either the Athabasca or Saskatchewan glaciers. The approach will depend on conditions. This will be one of the more challenging days of the trip with up to 13 km and 450 meters gained from the Saskatchewan glacier or 8 km and 800 meters gained via the Athabasca glacier. We will be using navigation, glacier travel, winter camping and cooking skills on this day.
Day 3: We will use this day to travel to and establish a base camp in the Trench. The Trench is a deep draw in the Columbia Icefields situated between the towering Mt Bryce, Mt Columbia and the North and South Twins. This impressive campsite will put us in position to summit Mt Columbia the following day.
Day 4: Summit day! With an alpine start we will approach the East Face of Mt Columbia. The face will involve steep snow climbing of up to 40 degrees with the use of an ice axe and potentially crampons. Reaching the summit and the highest point in Alberta we will be rewarded with stunning views stretching through the Rockies, Selkirk’s and Purcell’s.
Day 5: We will move our camp from the Trench to the top of the Athabasca Glacier. Snowdome, Andromeda and Unnamed Peak are potential climbs in the area if conditions are favorable.
Day 6: With an early start we will descend beneath the icefall of Snowdome and continue to the toe of the Athabasca glacier. We will return to Canmore for the course close.