For intermediate and advanced ice climbers we offer a full technical ice climbing guiding service for the longer and more difficult climbs in the Canadian Rockies surrounding Banff, Canmore and Lake Louise. Join a Yamnuska ice climbing guide to experience great climbing, amazing settings and adventure on the frozen waterfalls of the Canadian Rockies.
Our alpine ice climbing guides work in the mountains year-round but they live for ice climbing in the winter! The Yamnuska ice guide team is a highly-skilled group of certified guides who exchange conditions information within our organization on a daily basis via the exclusive “Yam Ice Exchange”. Expert ice climbers and guides, they have the most current conditions reports for climbs in Canmore, Banff, Kananaskis, Jasper, Kootenay and Yoho. We have a daily check-in requirement for our technical ice climbing guides and safety is always our first priority. Yamnuska Mountain Adventures has a 7 x 24 duty manager who is equipped to support our alpine ice climbing guides and guests in the field should the need arise.
Most ice climbing guide trips start at our comfortable office in Canmore, Alberta Canada where our guides check conditions reports, file their trip report, and outfit you for any gear. For more involved technical ice climbing trips we can meet where it is most convenient for you. We have been in business since 1977 and consider our team of alpine ice climbing experts in the Canmore, Banff, Jasper, Kananaskis, Kootenay and Yoho ice climbing routes. We have guided guests from all over the world and are well equipped to plan your whole trip if needed.
“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
Personalized instructional ice climbing programs are tailored to meet your objectives. Regardless of your ice climbing background, Yamnuska guides are leading-edge climbers and coaches who can take your climbing to the next level. You’ll receive a solid foundation in whatever aspect of ice climbing skills that you’re looking to improve on.
Here are some areas that you might want to consider:
- placement and analysis of ice screws and other anchoring devices(‘abalakovs’)
- techniques for climbing steep ice
- placement of screws on steep ice
- how to place pro on lead
- lead climbing skills with ‘mock’ leads
Our maximum guide to guest ratio on single pitch programs is 1:6.
There are many climbs to do and they are spread throughout the Canadian Rockies in our region. Several of which are minutes from our office in Canmore. Below is just a small sample of the classic ice climbs.
When making your booking you can specify the climbs you would like to do or we can suggest ice climbs for you. The guide will retain the final say on what ice 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, ice climbing and avalanche conditions must be safe. We meet daily to evaluate avalanche and climbing conditions.
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 to climb December through to mid-February.
Professor Falls: Classic multi-pitch climb located near Banff beneath the imposing NE Face of Mt Rundle. 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 Bridge Too Far: 300m, WI 4+
Kidd Falls: 75m, WI 4
Coire Dubh Integrale: 550m, 5.7, WI 3
Whiteman Falls: 95m, WI 6
A wide range of excellent climbs reached after a 2-hour drive from Canmore. A 4WD vehicle is necessary.
This House of Sky: 500m, WI 3
Aquarius: 60m, WI 4
Sorcerer: 185m, WI 5
Hydrophobia: 150m, WI 5+
Field / Lake Louise Area
A great area with lots of climbs in the grade 3 – 5 range in a small area.
Louise Falls: WI 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), WI 4
Massey’s: Above Field, WI 4
Carlsberg Column: Above Field, WI 5
Bow Falls: A ski access from Bow Lake of 1-2 hours. WI 4 – 5
Weeping Wall: One of the most famous ice climbs in the world, 2 hours drive from Canmore. Several lines. WI 4 – 5
Polar Circus: A world-famous WI grade 5. You need to be experienced, fast and willing to pay a surcharge.
Guides & Guide Ratios
The “Yam Ice Team” includes some of the best ice climbers 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 maximum guide to client ratio for guided multi-pitch climbs is 1:2 and on single-pitch instructional days, the maximum is 1:6.
This is not included. Usually clients transport guides in their vehicles. 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 may apply.
Meeting Place and Time
We usually meet guests at our office in Canmore, Alberta but we can meet where it is convenient for you.
Park Entry Fees
If climbing in Banff, Kootenay, Yoho or Jasper National parks daily entry fees apply. These are approximately $10/day per client and can be obtained on entry.
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)
Lunches & Snacks
These are not included but can be organized by our chef. Make sure you bring plenty of high-energy snacks plus plenty to drink. A Thermos with a hot drink is a good idea.
Clothing & Gear
This is not included though we do have boots, packs & climbing gear for rent. Rental Gear Prices
You will need to bring:
Clothing & Equipment List
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. Skiwear 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 the helmet
- Waterproof climbing gloves &/or mitts plus spares
- Knee-length Gaiters
- Neck tube
- Face Mask
- Daypack (large enough for spare clothing, your lunch & climbing gear e.g. rope & crampons)*
- Thermos flask and/or water bottle (full!)
- Sun cream
- Hand Sanitizer
- Mountaineering boots (plastic or synthetic Koflach, Scarpa, La Sportiva, etc.)*
- Crampons (Must fit your boots or be easily adjustable)*
- Climbing Harness*
- Climbing Helmet*
- Ice tools*
*Available to rent, but you must advise us in advance that you need them.
To book guided ice climbing just call or email our office. Registration requires a deposit of 35% of the cost or, for trips of three days or less, full payment. The balance of payment is required eight weeks before trip commencement. Should you cancel more than eight weeks in advance of the 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.
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.
To book or enquire about guided ice 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 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.
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.
When hiring a guide we can quote you the following costs: guide fees, transportation, Park entry fees when applicable, local accommodation, your personal climbing gear, your lunches & snacks. Goods & Services Tax & gratuities not included.
1 Climber – $595/person
2 Climbers – $350/person
3 Climbers – $275/person
4 Climbers $220/person
5 or more Climbers – Please contact the Yamnuska Office
To properly manage safety there is a maximum of 2 climbers per guide on multi-pitch routes. Certain very complex routes will have a maximum of 1 climber per guide. Single-pitch instructional programs have a maximum ratio of 1:6.
Trip Cancellation Insurance is available through the Simpson Group.
Ice Climbing Season
Ice climbing in Banff, Canmore and the surrounding Canadian Rockies is typically available from late November through April. The optimum season is mid-December to mid-March for our world-famous ice climbing.