The Canadian Rockies have the best multi-pitch winter ice climbing in the world. With reliable ice conditions and routes that are spread across a wide geography, every ice climber can find a full trip’s worth of climbs to challenge their abilities. The ‘Hot Ice’ program takes full advantage of this, pairing experienced ice climbers with top ice guides on the classic multi-pitch routes of the Canadian Rockies. Each winter provides a different set of challenges for returning guests with unique freeze/thaw cycles creating a virtually infinite array of surface conditions on even the most well known climbs. This guided multi-pitch winter ice climbing trip is scheduled for three days but has an option to add two more additional climbing days. The goal of our ice climbing package is to climb the longer and more challenging ice climbs in this area and many climbers find three full days enough! But if you can handle more we ready. With a 1:2 instructor ratio we can expect to meet the objectives of most climbers. Climbers will be paired with another person of similar abilities and objectives. This ice climbing package is the most economical way to participate on a guided multi-pitch ice climbing trip.
The Bow Valley in the Canadian Rockies is renowned for both great climbing and reliable conditions. We will be based in Canmore, close to climbs in Kananaskis, Banff National Park and the Ghost thus offering varied climbing in spectacular locations.
“Hot Ice” Agenda
This program is totally practical; there are no formal evening sessions. Climbs are selected day by day to best suit participant’s abilities and objectives.
Day 1: Meet at 7.00 am, check gear, discuss options then head out ice climbing for the day! This will likely be a top-rope or easier multi-pitch day to focus on skill development.
Day 2 and 3: Ice climbing to the max, the only limit is your energy! Two days of multi-pitch ice climbs followed by an optional 4th or 5th day if desired.
The route selection will depend on conditions and the group ability. The objective is to climb the classic ice routes that are on everyone’s tick list.
Depending on the route, we may require that our guide and guests be equipped with avalanche equipment. Should this be necessary for your climb we will provide the avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel for you at no charge. If you have your own avalanche equipment it is recommended you bring it for this trip. If you are not familiar with how to use an avalanche transceiver, probe or shovel, we will provide you with an introduction to companion rescue.
Meeting Time and Place
The programs begins at the Yamnuska office at 7.00am. 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 some of the best climbers and guides 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 10 participants, a minimum of 2. Instructor 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 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 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 springs and sample the numerous restaurants.
Accommodation & 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 a 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 equipment:
- Climbing harness
- Climbing helmet
- Ice tools
- Belay device, carabiners, slings, ice clippers
We recommend you bring:
- Boots* (must be crampon compatible)
- Daypack* (30-45 litres)
- Lunch, snacks
- Thermos flask and/or water bottle (1-2 litres combined volume)
*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
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 upon booking with the balance due 8 weeks before the program start date.
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 travelers 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.
$950 CDN includes 3 days of instruction and use of technical gear. Accommodation, local transfers and meals are not included but easy to arrange. GST is extra. Gratuities not included.
Optional 4th and 5th multi-pitch days are also available for $345/day.
Trip Cancellation Insurance is available through the Simpson Group.
Is it for you?
Ice climbing can be a strenuous activity even though our coaching will emphasize development of technique to reduce the need for brute strength. The climbing will be tailored towards your ability and strength as much as possible. A high level of fitness will contribute to enjoyment and achievement. ‘Hot Ice’ is suitable for climbers with previous ice-climbing experience and a strong desire for adventure.
PLEASE DON’T HESITATE TO CONTACT US IF YOU NEED TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THIS PROGRAM!