The Canadian Rockies are considered by many to be the ice climbing capital of the world – come find out why. Experience and enjoy this exhilarating sport on our beginner ice climbing training course in the Banff, Canmore and Kananaskis areas. Many of our students have become highly skilled and accomplished climbers after taking our ice climbing lessons.
A strong base of skills will be developed on the ice climbing basics course, so you will be able to use the top rope belay system efficiently and understand the use of personal ice climbing equipment. Personalized instruction in this course will help you to develop your ice climbing technique – the signature of a good ice climber. We will also introduce you to the basics of ice screw placement and anchor construction; the next step in your waterfall ice climbing progression. Our easy access to some of the best venues for learning the sport means the bulk of the weekend course is spent waterfall ice climbing. We will teach you how to ice climb efficiently while having an unforgettable experience. With the enthusiastic and dedicated ‘Yam Ice Team’, comprising of top Canadian Rockies ice climbing guides, you’ll experience an unforgettable weekend of learning, challenge and exhilaration! No experience is necessary, leave that to us!
Our two-day ice climbing basics course includes the use of all the technical gear you need to get started. In addition to taking this beginner ice climbing course in Canmore and Banff, check out the ‘Plus Days’ add-on option and you’ll be just blown away by what you can accomplish on this weekend.
Our guide was great and super informative! Clearly loved his job and was more than happy to answer any questions or demonstrate different techniques. Great locations and an awesome intro to ice climbing, thanks Larry!!
—Shani – January 2017
We have decades of experience in introducing people to the sport of ice climbing. Our office in Canmore, Alberta is fully equipped with all the ice climbing gear you need to get started.
Day 1: 7:00 am At Yamnuska Office & Local Climbing Area
- Welcome, introduction, goals and agenda
- Check gear and adjust crampons
- Discussion of safety procedures and hazard awareness
- Knots and harnesses
- Basic Ice Movement – how to use crampons in a controlled environment a few feet off the ground – essential for confidence!
- Top rope belays and climbing communication
- General ice climbing techniques for efficient movement
- Top rope climbs in Banff, Canmore or Kananaskis
Day 2: At Local Climbing Area in Banff, Canmore or Kananaskis
- Site hazard awareness
- Consolidation of technical belaying and communication skills
- Climbing warm-up
- Introduction to steep ice climbing techniques
- Lots of climbing with coaching on steeper climbs. You will be surprised at what you can ice climb when using modern ice tools and proper body positioning
- Introduction to placing and removing ice screws
- Introduction to basic anchor construction
- Debrief and wrap-up by 4:00 pm
Basic Ice Climbing ‘Plus Days’
Stay for an extra day after the Basic Ice Course and put your new skills into practice on a classic Canadian Rockies multi-pitch climb such as The Professor’s Falls, Louise Falls, Rogan’s Gully and Cascade Falls. The instructor to student ratio is 1:2, we divide into compatible teams, choose a suitable ‘multi-pitch’ route (several rope lengths in height) and spend the day climbing it. We have a seemingly endless list of multi-pitch ice climbs in the Banff, Canmore, Kananaskis and Lake Louise areas.
$345 plus GST. Every day following the Basic Ice course. Available to Basic Ice course participants only.
Meeting Time and Place
The course begins at the Yamnuska office in Canmore at 7:00 am on the first day. The Yamnuska office is located at 200, 50 Lincoln Park, Canmore, Alberta. See this map for location.
Instructors and Group Size
The “Yam Ice Team” includes some of the best ice climbers and course 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. There will be a maximum of 12 students and a minimum of 4. Instructor/student ratios range down from 1:6. In addition to being expert ice climbers, they are well trained to Yamnuska’s high customer service standards and are highly experienced course instructors.
To keep prices down participants are responsible for their own transport to Canmore and during the program. Canmore is a 1 hour (100km) drive west from Calgary.
If you are flying from afar for the program we suggest that you rent a car for your visit. In addition to getting you to the ice climbing locations, it will allow you to explore our region a bit after program hours. For example, you can visit Banff and enjoy the hot pools and sample the numerous restaurants.
Accommodation and Meals
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.
Food is not supplied. You will need lunch and something to drink each day. Each day bring plenty to drink and lunch plus energy snacks. We particularly suggest bringing a Thermos and hot drink.
Yamnuska provides the following personal technical gear. Please feel free to bring your own items if desired.
- Boots (must be crampon compatible)
- Climbing harness
- Climbing helmet
- Ice tools
- Belay device, carabiners, slings
We recommend you bring:
- Daypack* (30-45 litres)
- Lunch, snacks
- Thermos flask and/or water bottle (1-2 litres combined volume)
- Hand Sanitizer
*These items are available for rent. Please advise us in advance.
There can be prolonged periods of inactivity in very cold temperatures throughout the course. Don’t be afraid to bring too much! 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 (heavyweight synthetic or wool)
- Socks (synthetic/wool blend)
- Softshell pants and jacket
- Midweight synthetic or down 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)
- Heavyweight parka (big enough to fit over all your other layers)
- 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
- Face Mask
Additional gear info:
Boots: A good pair of boots is essential. They need to be warm and crampon compatible. You are welcome to try the Scarpa Mont Blanc boots that Yamuska provides.
Crampons: A good waterfall ice crampon will have vertically oriented front points and some have the option to switch to a single point for mixed climbing. We use the Petzl Lynx for our ice and mixed climbing programs.
Climbing harness: A winter climbing harness should be sized to fit over your winter clothing. It is recommended to have a harness with a dedicated spot for an Ice Clipper or Caritool.
Ice tools: It is important to have a tool with a curved hand grip at the bottom. For thin ice and mixed climbing, it is much safer to have a hammer or nothing at all attached to the head of the tool, instead of an adze. For all-around ice and mixed climbing, Yamnuska uses the Petzl Quark. For steep ice and advanced mixed climbing, Yamnuska uses the Petzl Nomic.
Belay device: Many options exist for belay devices. Ensure that your device has two slots for ropes, to facilitate rappelling. We provide the Petzl Verso or Petzl Reverso on our multi-pitch instructional programs.
Please book as early as practical to avoid disappointment. Our beginner ice climbing courses tend to fill up quickly. We require full payment on booking.
We ask that you make yourself familiar with our detailed booking instructions and conditions.
Risk is an inherent part of all mountain activities. We strive to manage and reduce it however, it is impossible to totally eliminate. Learn more about our safety and risk management approach here. 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 travellers 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. For more information and to purchase a plan, visit the Simpson Group’s website.
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.
$425 CDN covers instruction and use of technical gear, including boots. GST not included.
Optional PLUS DAY:
$345 plus GST. Every day following ‘Basic Ice’. Available to Basic Ice participants only.
Cancellation Insurance available through the Simpson Group.
Is it for you?
Our ice climbing course is suitable for total beginners, rock climbers and general mountaineers. Ice climbing can be a strenuous activity but our instruction will emphasize the development of the technique to reduce the need for brute strength. The ice climbing routes will be tailored to your ability and strength as much as possible. A high level of fitness will contribute to enjoyment and achievement however, you need no previous experience.