Gain the summits of the Canadian Rockies without the complication of ropes and climbing gear. There are hundreds of non-technical mountaintops that can be reached through judicious route finding and safe travel techniques. You don’t have to be a rock climber or mountaineer to stand on those lofty peaks.
Most mountaineers start off as hikers with a natural progression to scrambling hiking. We define scrambling as easy climbing requiring the use of hands and feet but not ropes, belays or protection. In a sense, scrambling is technical climbing. There aren’t always clearly defined trails and you occasionally use your hands to help ‘scramble’ up ridges or routes.
The intent of our Scrambling Rock Climbing Course is to give you the skills to safely climb mountains and not put yourself or your partners at unnecessary risk. We will focus on the most important elements of scrambling course safety: route finding, hazard assessment, and movement skills on loose steep terrain and on snow and iced rock. Whether you are already a scrambler looking to upgrade or affirm your skills or brand new to scrambling hiking, we will teach you sound skills to enable you to summit the many scrambling peaks of the Rockies.
We do not use ropes or other technical equipment in this scrambling rock climbing program. In general, this is a good mountain terrain and hazard assessment course in a non-technical environment. Advanced hikers will also find the topics valuable even if you don’t plan on scrambling.
Sign up for our ‘plus’ day scramble. This is an advanced scramble day at a lower guide to guest ratio. You will learn some basic rope skills and belays to tackle the ‘difficult’ rated scrambles.
Day 1: Meet at the Yamnuska Mountain Adventures office at 8:00 am. Coffee and tea will be available. Review course introduction, goals and objectives and explanation of hazards and risk.
Goals and Objectives:
- To be able to pick an appropriate scramble from the guidebook for skill level
- To be able to pack the correct and necessary gear for the day
- To be able to complete the scramble without environmental degradation of the area
- To be able to recognize the difference between class three and four terrain
- To effectively route find in class three terrain
- To recognize environmental hazards and how to deal with them
- To gain skills for movement in loose terrain and manage rock-fall issues
- Have fun and gain a summit or two!
- Equipment selection for scrambles
- Emergency gear
- Selecting proper footwear
- Dressing for the mountains
- Use of guidebooks
- Choosing peaks appropriate to experience levels
- Checking weather and conditions
- Environmental hazards: Lightning, animals, rockfall, snow and ice
- Environmental ethics
- Route finding skills
- Assessment of difficulty
- Movement skills during ascents and descents/scrambling skills
- Use of a trekking pole
- Spotting skills
- Pacing and rest stops
- Walking in balance
- Use of down pressure on handholds
Waiver presentation and signing. (please see sample waiver)
Head out and complete an easy to moderate scramble.
Day 2: Early departure from Canmore for a local scramble. This day will focus on personal leadership and decision-making as well as further developing the skills learned on day one. We will also discuss terrain evaluation, route finding, and group management. The meeting time and place will be determined by your guide and will be based on the day’s objective.
The course typically runs in the Canmore Kananaskis area. On occasion, we do travel as far west as Lake Louise. Typical scrambles on the course are Heart Mountain, Mt. Yamnuska, Mt. Baldy, and Loder Peak.
If we do travel to Banff you will need to have a National Parks entry pass for your vehicle.
Expect to be finished by 4:00 pm on the final day.
Stay for an extra day and put your new skills into practice on a classic Canadian Rockies difficult scramble. The instructor-to-student ratio is 1:2. On this day we will cover advanced scrambling skills and how to manage more technical terrain. Typical scrambles may include Mt. Buller and Mt. Edith.
$385 plus GST. Available the day following the ‘Scrambling Skills’ course.
Meeting Time & Place
The course begins at the Yamnuska office at 8:00 am on Saturday morning. The Yamnuska office is located at 200, 50 Lincoln Park, Canmore. See this map for location.
Be dressed and packed, ready for the outdoors.
Instructors and Group Size
Your instructors are certified by the internationally recognized Association of Canadian Mountain Guides.
There will be a maximum of 6 participants to one guide. On the ‘plus day,’ there will be a maximum of 2 participants to 1 guide.
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 a bit after 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 and Meals
We do not provide accommodations or meals during this program.
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.
You will need to bring a packed lunch, snacks, and plenty of liquids each day.
Equipment and Clothing
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.
Yamnuska provides the following personal technical gear. Please feel free to bring your own if desired:
We recommend you bring:
- Daypack* (30-40 litres)
- Lunch, snacks
- Water bottle (full!)
- Sunscreen, SPF lip balm
- Blister kit
- 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
- Bear spray (recommended)
*These items are available for rent. Please advise us in advance.
When scrambling, it is important to be able to adjust to the changing conditions. 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:
- Boots (mountaineering or sturdy hiking boots)
- Socks (synthetic/wool)
- Light synthetic shirt
- Softshell pants and jacket
- Midweight synthetic or down jacket
- Waterproof hardshell jacket with hood
- Waterproof hardshell pants
- Warm hat that fits under a helmet
- Sun hat
Additional gear info:
Boots: Good boots are essential. They need to be comfortable and provide good ankle support.
Helmet: A comfortable, all-around climbing helmet that can fit over your warm hat.
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, 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.
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.
$485 CDN per person. Includes instruction and group gear. Price does not include GST, park entry fees, personal gear, accommodation, meals, transportation, or gratuity.
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?
You should be able to hike in mountainous terrain with a day pack for at least six hours. Objectives on this course often gain 400-900m of elevation over 5km-10km. No prior scrambling or climbing experience is required.