Mushrooms, thin ice, chandeliers, and hanging ice features are all beautiful and draw us in as ice climbers but they can also be daunting to climb on. Come learn from our talented guides how to climb on these features securely and with ease. Whether you want to become a more competent second or are looking to push your lead grade, this clinic is focused on helping you move better and feel more comfortable on steep pitches of ice and mixed terrain.
The focus of the day will be movement on both ice and rock, and those tricky transitions between the two. Your guide will demonstrate different techniques and strategies throughout the day and give each participant individual feedback as they climb. There will also be opportunities to cover hazard identification, risk management, and protection strategies for both the climber and belayer.
Meet at the Yamnuska Office in Canmore at 7:00am
- Welcome, introduction, goals and agenda
- Check gear
- Discussion of site hazards and mitigation
- Positioning and ground anchors for the belayer
- Body position and movement on steep ice
- Finding rests and managing pump
- Placing and removing protection
- Movement on rock with ice tools and crampons
- Lots of mileage with individual coaching and feedback
Conditions can be difficult to predict during our November departure for this program. While there is often ice to be found this time of year, if conditions don’t allow for ice climbing we will focus on dry tooling movement and systems for the day.
Meeting Place & Time
Meet at the Yamnuska Office (200-50 Lincoln Park, Canmore) at 7:00 am on the day of the program.
Instructors and Group Size
The “Yam guiding Team” includes some of the best ice climbers, mixed, and drytoolers and course instructors anywhere! Enthusiastic and extremely talented, they hold climbing certification from the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides and other International Federation of Mountain Guide Association (IFMGA) countries. Your safety and enjoyment are paramount to them. There will be a maximum of 12 students and a minimum of 4. Instructor/student ratios range down from 1:6. In addition to being expert ice climbers, they are well trained to Yamnuska’s high customer service standards and are highly experienced course instructors.
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 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 afterward.
Frequent shuttles connect Calgary International Airport and Canmore.
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
These are not included in the course fees. There are lots of options available including campgrounds, hostels, B’n’Bs, motels, and hotels.
Food is not supplied. Bring plenty to drink and lunch plus energy snacks.
Equipment & Clothing
Yamnuska will provide group equipment and the following personal gear. Please feel free to bring your own items if desired.
- Belay device with pear shaped carabiner
- 2 x locking carabiners
- 1 x non locking carabiner
- 1 x 120cm sewn slings
- 2 x ice clippers
You will be required to provide the following personal gear:
- Ice climbing boots*
- Crampons (monopoint are recommended but not required) *
- Climbing harness*
- Climbing helmet*
- Ice tools*
- Daypack (30-45 litres)*
- Thermos flask and/or water bottle (1-2 litres combined volume)
- Lunch, snacks
- Headlamp (optional)
- Hand and toe warmers (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 program. 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 Yamnuska 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 drytooling. We use the Petzl Lynx for our ice and mixed climbing and drytooling 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 at the time of booking. Please read the attached information on booking conditions and cancellation penalties carefully before booking.
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, 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.
$189.00 covers instruction and group climbing gear.
Not included: transportation, personal climbing equipment, accommodation, lunch and beverages, GST.
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:
Previous ice climbing experience is required. Participants should be able to top-roping grade 4 ice. No prior mixed climbing experience is required. You should be proficient with the use of ice climbing equipment and belaying in the top rope setting. This is an intermediate to advanced course.