The Ghost River Valley has one of the highest concentrations of high-quality alpine ice climbing routes in the Canadian Rockies. “The Ghost” also has a reputation for difficult access which keeps all but the most motivated away. Those who spend the effort to ice climb here are rewarded with long multi-pitch routes and great single-pitch venues of all grades. This is a waterfall ice climbing camp in the Ghost River Valley and is suited for those who have multi-pitch ice climbing experience. We will be staying at Trappers Hill Cabins, a 10-minute drive to the start of the Ghost Valley and the many climbs that it holds.
We will climb as many routes as we can over the course of this winter ice climbing camp.
Day 1: Meet at the Yamnuska office in Canmore at 6:30 am to check equipment before starting the adventurous journey into the Ghost River Valley. We will divide into groups based on ability and match you with a great route to start the trip.
Days 2-5: Based on conditions we will look to climb some of the high-quality multi-pitch ice routes in the area. Expect to be challenged and rewarded for your efforts!
The course is based from Trappers Hill Cabins. The climbing routes will be based in the Ghost River Valley near the border of Banff National Park.
Meeting Time and Place
The course begins at the Yamnuska office in Canmore at 6:30 am on the first day. The Yamnuska office is located at 200, 50 Lincoln Park, Canmore. See this map for location.
Instructors and Group Size
The “Yam Ice Team” includes most 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. There will be a maximum of 6 students, a minimum of 4. Instructor/student ratios range down from 1:2.
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 vehicle for your visit. A high clearance vehicle is required to access the Ghost. Please contact us with any questions regarding appropriate vehicle rentals. In addition to getting you to the climbing locations, it will allow you to explore our region a bit after the program. For example, you can visit Banff and enjoy the hot pools and sample the numerous restaurants.
We will be supplying a 4×4 vehicle to bring equipment into Trappers Cabins.
Accommodation and Meals
During the program, we will be staying at the Trapper’s Hill Cabins which is a short drive from the entry point of the Ghost Valley. This will be a comfortable but rustic base for meals, drying clothing and equipment and sleeping for the nights on the program.
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.
Yamnuska guests receive exclusive rates with Clique Hotels & Resorts upon booking an adventure with either Yamnuska Mountain Adventures or Canadian Rockies Hiking by Yamnuska. (Please note that some rates are non-refundable)
Excess luggage can be left either at your hotel or our office.
All meals from lunch on Day 1 to lunch on Day 5 will be supplied by Yamnuska. 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
We recommend you bring:
- Boots* (must be crampon compatible)
- Daypack* (30-45 litres)
- Climbing harness*
- Climbing helmet*
- Ice tools*
- Belay device*
- 1 x pear-shaped carabiner*
- 2 x ‘D’ shaped carabiners*
- 1 x 120cm sewn sling*
- 1-2 ice screw clippers
- Sleeping bag (3-season rated)
- Thermos flask and/or water bottle (1-2 litres combined volume)
- Headlamp (with fresh batteries)
- 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.)
- Hand Sanitizer
- Music player and lightweight reading material (optional)
- Earplugs (optional)
- Pocket knife
- Winter boots for around the cabins
- Duffel bag for extra equipment and clothing (optional)
*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) – 3-4 pairs
- Socks (synthetic/wool blend) – 5 pairs
- 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 rents.
- 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. We require a 35% deposit including tax at the time of booking. The final payment is due eight weeks before the start of the program.
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 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.
$2450 CDN includes 5 days of guided ice climbing and instruction, use of group gear, all meals from lunch on day 1 to lunch on day 5, 4 nights accommodation at Trappers Hill Cabins. Personal climbing equipment and local transfers are not included but can be arranged if required. GST is extra. Gratuities not included.
Not included: Canmore accommodation, Transportation, Gratuities and 5% Goods & Services Tax (GST).
Trip Cancellation Insurance is available through the Simpson Group.
Is it for you?
The Ghost Ice Camp is perfect for guests with previous ice climbing experience who would like to climb more multi-pitch routes. You should be able to second grade 3 or 4 ice but extensive multi-pitch experience is not required as these skills can be taught on the program. Ice climbing can be a strenuous activity, however, with expert coaching, we will emphasize the development of technique to reduce the need for brute strength. The climbing will be tailored towards your ability and strengths as much as possible. Approaches in the area range from half an hour to two hours and a moderate to a high level of hiking fitness will contribute to enjoyment and achievement on the program.