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Dates and Prices

Price

$1695 CDN includes certified guide, meals, group camping equipment, park entry and wilderness passes. You will need to bring adequate clothing and equipment for a backcountry ski traverse. GST is extra.

Trip Cancellation Insurance is available through the Simpson Group.

Is it for you?

This is a challenging trip for ski mountaineers who have minimal winter camping experience and are in good to excellent hiking shape. Expect expedition weight packs of up to 55 pounds, sleds may be used on this program. There will be multiple days of travelling over 10 km with elevation gains of up to 800 meters. Guests should have intermediate to advanced down hill ski skills and feel comfortable on non-groomed blue runs in any condition at the ski hill. Although there is minimal down hill skiing on this trip guests should be able to safely descend moderately angled slopes with a pack on. Travel on this trip is limited to guests on alpine touring equipment.
 

Training

Understanding the prerequisites should help with your training throughout the winter. Winter ski tours and walks with a 45-50lb pack is recommended as the best training, however other activities such as cross country skiing and hiking can also be good training. Please read the itinerary and difficulty sections and be both physically and mentally prepared for the trip. If you are uncertain about your experience level, please call us.

 

Mt Columbia Ski Expedition

The Columbia Icefields is home to 225 square kilometers of glacier ice that is in places over 350m thick. The area hosts 11 of the 54 highest peaks in the Canadian Rockies and is arguably the best location in the Rockies for ski mountaineering. Mt Columbia, the highest peak on the icefield and in Alberta, will be the main objective of this ski expedition. The seemingly limitless views of the Rocky and Selkirk Mountains will form the backdrop for this trip.

This trip is an excellent choice for adventurers looking to learn the skills involved in successfully planning and completing ski expeditions. Ski mountaineers on this trip should have previous winter camping and glacier travel experience and have a high level of fitness.

Curriculum

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.

Topics include:

  • Food preparation
  • Equipment preparation for ski expeditions
  • Mountain weather
  • Navigation & route planning
  • Mountain hazard awareness emphasizing hazard recognition and management, route finding & emergency procedures
  • Glacier travel
  • Track setting
  • 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!

Itinerary

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.