This condensed and intensive high-end course is designed for those who cannot take three months off to do our semester skills course. It focuses on the skills required of the summer mountaineer: climbing alpine rock, travel on snow and ice, glacier travel, crevasse rescue, technical rock climbing, mountain living, navigation and route finding. These skills are presented in a logical progression from basic safety protocols and technical gear handling to intermediate and advanced techniques that are constantly being reviewed and updated by our professional guides.
Many of our summer students go on to pursue a career in the outdoor recreation industry or use this program as a springboard to advance their technical skills and improve their overall knowledge and fitness. With a strong focus on the fundamentals of outdoor leadership, this is a fantastic program for anyone wishing to feel confident and secure in most any terrain and conditions that can be found in the summer mountain environment.
Day 1: Welcome, introductions, course agenda and goals. Preparation for the first trip to Skaha Bluffs in Penticton.
This is a major part of the Semester. We will be working on all aspects of rock climbing over the next 8 days. We will then revisit rock work on the alpine rock section and the mountaineering segment to summit peaks in the Bugaboos.
Days 2 – 9: Rock Skills in Skaha Bluffs, Penticton
The rock climbs in the Skaha Bluffs area provide a large variety of difficulties and styles which is ideal for the progression of this section. We will visit different crags each day to learn the skills of rock climbing from the ground up. In tandem with rock performance training and movement skills, will be comprehensive and detailed instruction on safety and belay systems including: ‘trad’ gear placements (use of nuts, camming devices etc), anchor building, various belay systems, lead skills (sport and ‘trad’), self-rescue and companion rescue and multi-pitch systems.
Days 10 – 11: Two days off in Canmore
A well-earned rest and the chance to catch up on some personal maintenance.
Days 12 – 14: Alpine Rock and Multi Pitch Climb in Canmore
The Bow Valley is the perfect place to move our rock skills to a multi-pitch climb on the big limestone walls that enclose the area. Climbing with instructors in small teams (1:2) you will be able to apply your new skills to long climbs which demand far more efficiency and better route finding judgment. Additionally, we will work on techniques for managing alpine rock situations. This will cover movement on class 3 and 4 terrain, rope use as well as belaying and protecting easy but exposed terrain.
Days 15 – 16: Two days off in Canmore
Alpine Mountaineering on Rock, Snow and Ice
The final two parts of the program are dedicated to learning the skills associated with climbing glaciated peaks. You will learn how to travel safely on glaciers plus how to rescue yourself or your partner from a potential crevasse fall. You will learn how to climb safely on rock, snow and ice in two world famous climbing areas: the Columbia Icefields and the Bugaboos.
Days 17- 22: General Mountaineering Skills and Alpine Ice at the Columbia Icefields
The 11,000 foot peaks of the Columbia Icefields rise abruptly next to the Banff-Jasper Parkway. Heavy glaciation means alpine ice climbing training opportunities are a short walk from camp. We will move from general mountaineering skills: foot work on snow and ice, ice axe use, self-arrest, understanding glacier morphology, rope use for glacier travel to steeper alpine ice climbing techniques: leading steeper multi pitch alpine ice and snow, technical descents on snow and ice and more advanced crevasse rescue.
The icy peak of Athabasca is a great classroom and its steeper long routes are great finales for this section where the guide ratio will drop to 1:2.
Days 23 – 24: Two days off in Canmore
Days 25 – 29: General Mountaineering Skills and Alpine Rock in the Bugaboos
The ‘Bugs’ are one of North America’s most famous climbing areas. This world-renowned climbers’ paradise with its awesome granite spires, beautiful glaciers and lush, green valleys attract alpinists from around the world. We can’t imagine a better place in which to apply your new skills. Additionally, we will continue to build on more advanced skills to be successful on higher end mountaineering and alpine rock routes.
From our base at the spacious Conrad Kain Hut we can easily reach the perfect training areas to be found on the Bugaboo Glacier and in the Crescent Spires each day. We will be working on general snow and glacier techniques as we approach rock spires where we will be applying our rock climbing skills to alpine situations. Alpine rock is an important facet of mountaineering that requires an ability to quickly choose the appropriate technique for every situation so as to maximize both safety and speed. Here we introduce peer short roping, natural belays and other important mountaineering techniques.
Later in the week the West Ridge of Pigeon Spire, one of the most enjoyable intermediate alpine rock routes in the world, will be our objective. With a low guide to student ratio (1:2) many of the classic longer routes in the area are options.
Day 30: The final debrief day in Canmore culminating in a graduation dinner.
Alpine Trekking: Travel in difficult big mountain terrain breeds great mountain skills Route finding and scrambling skills lead directly into more advanced mountaineering.
Rock climbing: Most students finish leading at 5.7 and above.
Alpine Rock Climbing: Short roping skills and improvised belay skills to develop fast movement over alpine rock terrain.
Mountaineering: Glacier travel, crevasse rescue, climbing snow, ice and rock peaks. Expect to be leading on peaks such as Athabasca.
Mountain Navigation: Route finding in whiteouts using compass and GPS.
Trip Logistics: Planning, menus, gear, safety, and emergency response.
Meeting Time and Place
The program begins at the Yamnuska office at 200, 50 Lincoln Park, Canmore, at 10.00am on the first day. Map
The course is based in Canmore, Alberta in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains just minutes from Banff National Park. Section locations will vary according to conditions. Expect to be rock climbing in the Bow Valley near Canmore and mountaineering in British Columbia’s Bugaboos and at the Columbia Icefields.
We are in a continental or inland climate that varies greatly in temperatures and weather. During this program you can expect to encounter spring snow falls with sub-zero temperatures and hot summer temperatures in the high 20’s (Celsius). You should be prepared for every type of mountain weather conditions.
Instructors and Group Size
Our instructors are professional guides who are certified by the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides and by other member countries of the International Federation of Mountain Guide Associations.
The instructor ratio (number of students per instructor) has a very large impact on the quality of the program. Ratios are based upon the difficulty and hazard associated with the teaching terrain. This means that more demanding terrain, such as that in the Bugaboos, requires a lower ratio, typically 1:2 or 1:3. We will be using a maximum ratio of 1:6 on the instructional mountaineering sections with lower ratios on the more technical climbs.
There will be a maximum of 12 students with a minimum of 4. An alternate program itinerary or pricing may be offered if we do not meet minimum numbers for this program.
During the program all field transportation is supplied. The group has a passenger van that is used to reach program areas. During evenings and on free days, transportation is not supplied.
Accommodation and Meals
All accommodation costs and meals while in the backcountry are included in the course price.
When in Canmore the group will be responsible for their own accommodation. This allows us to offer this program at a discounted price, as there is a wide range of accommodation options in town. You can find more information about Canmore hotels and hostels here.
During training segments the group will be based in a range of accommodations that will include wilderness camping, car camping and Alpine Club mountain huts.
Since this program is about developing well-rounded mountain skills, you will be involved in menu planning, food packing and food preparation for out-trips. During training you and the other course members will be responsible for cooking for the group. The food supplied will be healthy and nutritious with emphasis on simplicity. Do not expect a lavish menu, but also do not expect to go hungry, you will eat well.
Meals while in Canmore are not included. There are many excellent restaurants in town, many within walking distance of our office and most hotels.
PLEASE NOTE: For guests with dietary restrictions, we are able to modify the program food pack to meet your individual needs. As food pricing and preparation for these diets is more costly, we have implemented the following surcharges. For vegan, gluten free, lactose free, soy free, nut free or any similar type of single restriction menu requests there will be a $16/day surcharge. For a diet requiring any 2 restrictions a $25/day surcharge will apply. For any 3 restrictions a $30/day surcharge will apply. Vegetarian meals will not be surcharged. For more complex diets our kitchen staff will assess the restrictions to inform you if the diet can be accommodated and what surcharge would apply.
Equipment and Clothing
All group camping and all technical gear is supplied with the exception of rock shoes and mountaineering boots. Reasonably priced boot rentals can be arranged during the course. You will need to bring your own outdoor clothing and footwear, backpack, sleeping bag and sleeping pad. Download Gear List
There are several outdoor stores in the area from which you can buy gear and clothing during the Semester.
Please book as early as practical to avoid disappointment. A deposit of 35% is required at time of booking. Final payment is due eight weeks before the start of the course.
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.
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.
2017 – $6,995 CDN
Minimum enrollment is 4 students. An amended program may be offered should enrollment be less.
- All out-trip hut and camping fees.
- All out-trip meals.
- Course transportation.
- Low Ratio Instruction.
- Use of all technical gear.
- All group camping gear (tents, stoves etc).
- Park fees.
Price does not include:
- 5% Goods & Services Tax
- Accommodation and Meals in Canmore.
Trip Cancellation Insurance is available through the Simpson Group.
Is it for you?
This is a demanding and strenuous course which requires a high level of aerobic fitness from participants. It is suitable for beginners and those with basic previous experience in hiking, mountaineering and rock climbing.