At 3,612m (11,851 ft) Mt Forbes is the 5th highest peak in Alberta and is the highest peak completely in Banff National Park. With its remote position on the continental divide, Mt Forbes is a true alpine climbing expedition. For budding mountaineers and aspiring alpinists, this is a perfect opportunity to develop your expedition skills and climb this great summit. In addition to gaining valuable field skills, during this alpine-style mountain climbing program, you will spend a day with our experienced guides doing all pre-expedition planning and logistics.
This Mount Forbes expedition is an excellent choice for adventurers looking to learn the skills involved in successfully planning and completing mountaineering expeditions.
Objectives and Curriculum: This trip is designed to help participants plan and complete mountain expeditions in a real-time environment. Mountain conditions will dictate the order of presentation to some degree. Key topics will be constantly revisited during the program to meet the needs of participants and conditions. This will be a hands-on participant lead trip with guidance from a professional Guide. Even if expedition planning isn’t your primary objective, this trip makes for an excellent mountaineering objective and allows you to tick off an 11,000-foot peak from your wish list. A summit attempt is definitely on the agenda!
- Food preparation and packing
- Equipment preparation for mountain expeditions
- Trip planning
- Mountain weather
- Navigation & route planning
- Backcountry medical issues & emergency response
- Navigation & route planning
- Backcountry camping and cooking skills
- Mountain hazard awareness emphasizing hazard recognition and management
- Decision-making process
- Route finding in mountain terrain
- Glacier travel
- Roped climbing on steeper snow/ice and rock
- Completing a planned expedition! You will find yourself in the lead, solving route finding problems and using new skills to navigate and live in glaciated terrain
- Mountaineering skills to gain rewarding summits!
Day 1: Our first day will cover the pre-trip planning skills required for successful mountaineering expeditions. This will be held in the Yamnuska office in Canmore starting at 8 am. We will be looking at our objective in detail and be planning food, equipment needs, tenting and cooking groups, navigation and time plans and doing hazard evaluations for the following day. We will also cover emergency procedures and pack for the trip.
Day 2: The expedition starts! We will drive the 2.5 hours to Saskatchewan Crossing where we will begin our approach to Mt Forbes via Glacier Lake. The trail past Glacier Lake is around 15 km and has only minor elevation gain. This will be a long day with full packs on our backs. We will be using navigation, pacing, camping and cooking skills on this day.
Day 3: Expect another big day into a very remote part of the Rocky Mountains. This will be one of the most challenging days of the trip with a 10 km hike and 900m of elevation gain. This remote area will require off-trail route-finding and navigation as well as some cold creek crossings. Our campsite will position us for our attempt on Mt Forbes.
Day 4: Summit day! With an alpine start, we will approach the West Ridge of Mt Forbes. The route will involve steep snow climbing of up to 40 degrees and occasional steps of easy rock scrambling. This will be done with the use of an ice axe and crampons. Reaching this rarely visited summit and enjoying the endless views in all directions will be a great reward.
Day 5: We will retrace our steps to the head of Glacier Lake. Backpacks will be lighter for our return trip to this established campground.
Day 6: A short day of hiking will return us to Saskatchewan Crossing and our vehicles. We will drive back to Canmore for the course close and debrief.
Please contact the office to organize this trip.
Instructors and Group Size
Guide to guest ratio on this trip will be 1:3. As you will be working in small rope teams, the guide will have lots of time to focus on personal instruction. Our guides are certified by the internationally recognized Association of Canadian Mountain Guides or one of the other international member associations. They are also licensed to operate in the area by Parks Canada. The maximum group size is 9, minimum of 2.
We will meet the group at 8:00 AM on the first day here at our office in Canmore (Map). Please come prepared with all of your personal gear and clothing, but leave enough room in your pack for some additional group gear and food as well.
Participants are responsible for their own transport to Canmore which is a 1 hour (100km) drive west from Calgary.
We rely on guest’s personal vehicles to reach program locations. If you are flying here for the program we recommend flying into Calgary International Airport and renting a car.
Accommodation and Meals
On the trail, you will be staying in modern, lightweight 2 and 3-person weather-proof tents. We will be setting up communal camps each night and cooking over camp stoves. Yamnuska will provide all group camping gear, however personal gear such as Sleeping Bags, Thermarests, and basic dishes will be required.
Dinner and accommodation on day 1 are NOT included.
All meals, snacks and drinks are supplied from lunch on the first day to lunch on the last. Meals are prepared by our in-house chef from fresh, nutritious ingredients and then dehydrated to make them suitable for backcountry travel. 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 $17/day surcharge. For a diet requiring any 2 restrictions a $26/day surcharge will apply. For any 3 restrictions, a $31/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.
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.
Weather and Conditions Note
Like any alpine region, this area is subject to extreme weather conditions. While we will strive to use the noted sites and climbs, weather and conditions will dictate our site selection.
Equipment and Clothing
The equipment and clothing you bring to this trip 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.
You will be able to leave excess gear in Canmore while on the trip.
Yamnuska provides the following personal technical gear. Please feel free to bring your own items if desired.
- Mountaineering ice axe
- Technical ice climbing tool
- Climbing harness
- Climbing helmet
- Ice screw
- Belay device
- Prussic cord, sling, carabiners
We recommend you bring:
- Mountain boots* (must be crampon compatible)
- Multiday pack* (60–75 litres)
- Daypack (30-40 litres), (optional)
- Sleeping bag*
- Sleeping pad*
- Water bottle (1-2 litres)
- Sunscreen, SPF lip balm
- Headlamp (with fresh batteries)
- Pocket knife
- 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.)
- Personal toiletries including hand sanitizer
- Trekking pole (optional)
- Plastic mug, bowl and eating utensil
*These items are available for rent. Please advise us in advance.
When mountaineering, 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:
- Long underwear top and bottoms (lightweight synthetic or wool)
- Socks (synthetic/wool, at least two pairs)
- Light synthetic shirt
- 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)
- Gaiters (big enough to fit over large boots)
- Waterproof mountaineering or ice climbing gloves (at least two pairs)
- Lightweight synthetic gloves
- Warm hat that fits under a helmet
- Sun hat
- Running shoes or sandals
Additional gear info:
Backpack: It is possible to use just one multiday backpack, as long as it is comfortable enough to wear while climbing. If bringing an additional day pack, this should be very light and compressible in order to fit inside the bigger pack on the approach hike.
Sleeping bag: We recommend a three-season bag rated to approximately -9 Celsius. A down bag will be lighter and more compressible for the weight than a synthetic bag. A compression stuff sack is recommended to reduce volume.
Mountain boots: A good pair of mountain boots are essential. They need to be warm and crampon compatible. You are welcome to try the Scarpa Mont Blanc boots that Yamuska rents.
Crampons: Mountaineering crampons should have anti-snow-balling plates, and need to be compatible with your boots. We use the Petzl Vasak.
Mountaineering ice-axe: Your ice axe should be 55-65 cm, and should be equipped with an adze. Yamnuska provides the Petzl Summit Axe.
Technical ice climbing tool: It is important to have a tool with a curved hand grip at the bottom. Yamnuska uses the Petzl Quark.
Climbing harness: Should be sized to fit over your cold-weather clothing. It is recommended to have a harness with a belay/rappel loop.
Helmet: A comfortable, all-around climbing helmet that can fit over your winter hat.
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 trip.
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 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, 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.
Private guiding options available. Please contact us to discuss this option.
Please contact the office to organize this trip.
Trip Cancellation Insurance is available through the Simpson Group.
Understanding the prerequisites should help with your training throughout the summer. In terms of technical skills in relation to Yamnuska courses, we recommend a minimum of Intro to Mountaineering and one of our intermediate guided peak ascent programs (Yoho Peaks or Lake Louise Classics) before joining us for this expedition. You should also have a good level of fitness and be prepared for 5 continuous days of travel in the mountains with a heavy pack. Please review the itinerary section and be both physically and mentally prepared for the trip.