Waterton Lake is the smallest National Park in the Canadian Rockies at just less than 200sq miles. Despite its size, the ice climbing routes are comparable to any other location in the Canadian Rockies minus the crowds. The area generates specific weather patterns that are prime for producing over 40 spectacular waterfall ice climbs up to and including WI6. As a result of the local weather patterns, there is often little, or no snow resulting in lower avalanche hazard and easier access to the ice climbing routes.
Waterton is a quiet, uncrowded National Park. The perfect place to view spectacular scenery, wildlife and enjoy outstanding ice climbing opportunities.
Day 1: Meet at the Yamnuska office in Canmore at 6:00 am to check equipment before starting the journey to Waterton. We will divide into groups based on ability and match you with a great route to start the trip before settling into our accommodation.
Days 2-4: Based on conditions we will look to climb some of the high-quality multi-pitch ice routes in the area. Expect to be challenged and rewarded for your efforts! Some of the routes we will aim for are Quick and Dirty WI3 35m, Expert’s Choice Left WI4 100m, Left Compound Gully WI3 150m, Le Pilier des Putains WI6 50m, and French Kiss WI3 40m to name a few.
Day 5: We will look to climb our last route of the trip in the morning before driving back to Canmore and finishing our trip.
We will be ice climbing in Waterton Lakes National Park in Southwestern Alberta. We will choose routes based on conditions and your ability level to maximize our climbing.
Meeting Time and Place
The course begins at the Yamnuska office in Canmore at 6:00 am on the first day. The Yamnuska office is located at 200, 50 Lincoln Park, Canmore. See this map for location.
Instructors & Group Size
The “Yam Ice Team” includes some 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 other International Federation of Mountain Guide Association (IFMGA) countries. Your safety and enjoyment are paramount to them. There will be a maximum of 6 guests and a minimum of 2. The guide to guest ratio is 1:2
To keep prices down participants are responsible for their own and their guide’s transport during the program. Canmore is a 1 hour (100km) drive west from Calgary and Waterton Lakes National Park is a 3.5–hour drive from Canmore. Park Entry Passes are not included in the program cost.
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.
Accommodation & Meals
During the program, we will be staying at the Waterton Lakes Lodge Resort which is a short drive to all the climbing in Waterton Lakes National Park. Amenities include an indoor pool, a whirlpool, a fitness centre, and a games room. A casual bar/grill with 2 patios serves regional Canadian specialties. Accommodation is based on double occupancy. If you are interested in your own individual room Yamnuska can provide that at a surcharge at the time of booking based on availability.
Pre and post-trip accommodation is not included.
Excess luggage can be left either at your hotel or our office.
Dinners are not supplied by Yamnuska. We will provide breakfast and lunch for each day starting with lunch on Day 1 to lunch on Day 5. Please specify any special dietary requirements you have on your application so we can incorporate them into our lunch menus. A surcharge may apply.
Yamnuska will provide group equipment such as ropes and ice screws.
You will be required to provide the following personal gear:
- Ice climbing boots*
- Climbing harness*
- Climbing helmet*
- Ice tools*
- Belay device with Munter carabiner*
- 2 x locking carabiners*
- 1 x non locking carabiner*
- 1 x 120cm sewn slings*
- 1 x 5m 7mm cord*
- 2 x ice clippers*
- Daypack (30-45 litres)*
- Thermos flask and/or water bottle (1-2 litres combined volume)
- Lunch, snacks
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
- Boots/shoes/clothes (for in the evenings)
- Personal toiletries
- Book (evening reading material)
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 including tax at the time of booking. The final payment is due eight weeks before the start of the program.
We ask that you familiarize yourself with our detailed booking instructions and conditions.
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, 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 trip.
$TBD CDN includes 5 days of guiding and instruction, all breakfasts and lunches starting with lunch on day 1 to lunch on day 5, 4 nights‘ accommodation and use of specialized group climbing gear. GST is extra. Gratuities not included.
Trip Cancellation Insurance is available through the Simpson Group.
Is it for you?
The climbing will be tailored towards your ability and strength as much as possible. Ice climbing can be a strenuous activity even though our coaching will emphasize the development of technique to reduce the need for brute strength. A high level of fitness will contribute to enjoyment and achievement. ‘Waterton Ice’ is suitable for climbers with previous ice-climbing experience.