Transitioning into lead climbing on ice is a big step. It requires commitment and the right skill set to move safely over the ice in an efficient manner. It’s essential to be able to place solid protection and construct ‘bomb–proof’ anchors while ice climbing in control. This lead ice climbing course is designed to give you the skills to become a confident lead climber on single pitch ice climbing routes. The lead climber has a lot of responsibility to their climbing partners so safely managing the route for all climbers is an important aspect of the course.
This innovative and modern ice climbing training course will be taught by one of Yamnuska’s full ACMG/IFMGA Mountain Guides who are on the cutting edge of modern climbing. You need to be comfortable seconding easy grade 3 ice.
Note: There is considerable flexibility built into the delivery of this course. Ice and weather conditions, as well as participant ability, will dictate the order of presentation to some degree.
7:30 am at the Tim Horton’s in Bancroft (234 Hastings St., Bancroft)
- Welcome, introduction, goals and agenda
- Check gear and adjust crampons
- Risk and hazard assessments for ice climbing
- Hazard awareness at the climbing area
- Review of top-rope belay techniques, climbing communication and climbing techniques
- Placement and analysis of ice screws
- Anchor construction review (using ice screws, V-threads and bolts)
- Introduction to lead belaying
- Racking up for leading
- Placement of screws on steep terrain
- Clipping quickdraws on lead
- Lead tactics for single-pitch ice routes (managing differing ice quality and planning your lead)
- Simulated leads (on top rope)
- Cleaning the anchor (getting your gear back) – review and options
- Rappelling with a prussic backup
- End day by 5:00 pm
The course is based in Bancroft, Ontario but expect a 10-15-minute drive to reach the climbing crag.
Meeting Time and Place
The course begins at the Tim Horton’s in Bancroft Ontario at 7:30 am. Tim Horton’s is located at 234 Hastings St. In Bancroft.
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 the International Federation of Mountain Guide Association (IFMGA). Your safety and enjoyment are paramount to them. There will be a maximum of 6 students, a minimum of 4. Instructor/student ratios will be 1:6 on during the course.
Transportation is not included in this program. We will rely on guest’s vehicles to reach the trailhead.
To keep prices down participants are responsible for their own transport to Bancroft and during the program.
Accommodation and Meals
Accommodation in Bancroft is not included. A variety of accommodation options exist in Bancroft. We recommend that you book your own pre– and post-trip accommodations well in advance as all levels of accommodations fill quickly.
Food is not supplied. You will need lunch and something to drink. Please bring plenty to drink plus lots of energy snacks. We particularly suggest bringing a Thermos and hot drink.
The equipment and clothing you bring to this course will play a large role in the quality of your experience. Read the following suggestions and lists carefully. If you have any questions or need clarification, don’t hesitate to call or email.
Group climbing gear such as ropes and hardware is provided, but we recommend bringing your own personal climbing gear. Rental options are available through MEC in Toronto and North York. You will need to show up with: Please contact us if you are having any problems obtaining equipment.
- Ice Climbing Tools
- Climbing harness
- Climbing helmet
- Belay device with a locking carabiner
- Mountaineering Boots (must be crampon compatible)
We recommend you bring:
- Daypack* (30-40 litres)
- Water bottle
- Sunscreen, SPF lip balm
- Hand Sanitizer
- Headlamp (with fresh batteries)
- First aid items (Our guides carry a first aid kit, but you may bring your own Band-Aids and anti-inflammatory medication if desired.)
- Trekking pole (optional)
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.
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 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.
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.
$225 CDN covers instruction and group gear. Personal equipment, accommodation and meals are not included GST is extra. Gratuities not included.
Trip Cancellation Insurance is available through the Simpson Group.
Is it for you?
Learning to Lead on ice is a big step both mentally and physically. You need to have previous ice climbing experience and be comfortable top-roping grade 3 ice. You should be proficient with the use of ice climbing equipment in the top rope setting. This would include fitting all personal equipment, top-rope set-up, the top rope belay system as well as cleaning anchors for lower or rappel. This is an intermediate to an advanced course.