Mixed climbing is the discipline of climbing on both rock and ice, either in quick succession or at the same time. It is fun, physical and great training for ice climbing. If you can climb overhanging rock with ice tools then vertical ice begins to start feeling easier. This three-day camp will focus on hazard management, movement skills, technical systems and gear selection. The goal of the camp is to introduce mixed terrain and provide students with the knowledge and techniques to safely and smoothly top rope M-routes with the progression towards leading.
Sean has been teaching and coaching mixed climbing for 20 years. He was one of the pioneers of the mixed revolution in the 1990s with many classic first ascents under his belt. He has also competed seven years in a row at the Ouray Ice Festival Mixed Invitational, gaining third place podium finishes on three occasions. Sean is also the author of Falcon’s how-to book “Mixed Climbing” and their recent release “How to Ice Climb!” He also authored the local guidebook “Mixed Climbs in the Canadian Rockies”.
The week is based out of Canmore, Alberta where there are a variety of world-class mixed crags that offer excellent terrain for learning and improving. The only prerequisite is knowing how to belay but some previous rock or ice climbing experience would be beneficial.
Day 1: 7:00 am at the Yamnuska office
- Welcome, introduction, goals, agenda and waivers
- Gear check
- Risk and hazard assessments for mixed climbing
- Hazard awareness at the climbing area
- Review of top-rope belay techniques and communication
- Drytooling movement skills
- Resting and recovering
Day 2: 7:00 am at the Yamnuska Office
- Hazard awareness at the climbing area
- Mixed movement skills and drills
- Hanging daggers, thin ice, ice roofs
- Practice with coaching
Day 3: 7:00 am at the Yamnuska Office
- Hazard awareness
- Lead belay for mixed
- Mixed movement practice with coaching
- Lead strategy for mixed climbing
- Mock mixed leads
- Camp close
The course is based in Canmore, Alberta but expect to be travelling to different climbing areas of the Canadian Rockies in Kananaskis, Banff, Canmore, and Lake Louise. We may also access the excellent climbing areas in Kootenay National Park.
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. See this map for location.
Instructors and Group Size
Sean Isaac is a fully certified Alpine Guide with the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides. He has been ice climbing for 30 years and instructing ice for the past 20 years. During that time, he has taught more than a thousand people the art of moving safely over frozen waterfalls. Based in Canmore, Alberta in the Canadian Rockies, Sean was a key member of the modern mixed climbing movement in late 90s and early 2000s establishing classics like Caveman, Cryophobia, The Asylum, Mixed Monster, Uniform Queen and The Real Big Drip to name a few and repeating test pieces like Musashi (M12). He has travelled all over the world in search of new routes to the remote ranges of Alaska, Patagonia, Peru, Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan. Sean is also author of several ice and mixed books including Mixed Climbing in the Canadian Rockies by Rocky Mountain Books, Mixed Climbing by Falcon Guides, Ice Climbing Leader Field Handbook by the Alpine Club of Canada and most recently How to Ice Climb by Falcon Guides. In addition, he has been the editor of the Canadian Alpine Journal for the past 14 years. He has appeared with featured segments in a number of climbing films including Beyond Gravity (2000) and Higher Ground (2008).
There will be a maximum of 6 students, and a minimum of 4. Instructor/student ratios range down from 1:6.
To keep prices down participants are responsible for their own transport to Canmore and during the program. Canmore is a 1hour (100km) drive west of 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 the program hours. For example, you can visit Banff and enjoy the hot pools and sample the numerous restaurants.
Please note that program venues may be within National Parks and/or Kananaskis Country. For programs where transportation is not provided by Yamnuska/Canadian Rockies Hiking by Yamnuska, guests will be required to purchase their own pass.
National Park passes are available both online at https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/voyage-travel/admission and in-person at National park gates and some information centres.
Kananaskis Country conservation passes are available online at https://www.alberta.ca/kananaskis-conservation-pass.aspx
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 plus lots of 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)
*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. We require full payment on booking. We accept Visa, Mastercard, Canadian Cheques, Money Orders, and Bank Drafts. Credit card payments are easiest, especially for international travellers.
We ask that you familiarize yourself 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 trip.
$675 CDN covers instruction and use of technical gear including boots (may be subject to availability). Accommodation and meals are not included but low cost, easy options exist which we can tell you about. GST is extra. Gratuities not included.
Trip Cancellation Insurance is available through the Simpson Group.
Please note you will be required to sign the Yamnuska Release of Liability, and Waiver of Claims prior to commencing the program. Please review the sample waiver prior to booking and call us with any questions.
Is it for you?
This course is suitable for total beginners, rock climbers and general mountaineers. Mixed climbing can be a strenuous activity but our instruction will emphasize the development of the technique to reduce the need for brute strength. The routes will be tailored to your ability and strength as much as possible. A general level of fitness will contribute to enjoyment and achievement however, you need no previous experience.