The newest alpine-style mountain climbing course to our 11,000ers program; Mount Willingdon stands at 11,066 feet and is the tallest peak between Mt Hector to the South and Mt Forbes to the North. The approach to the peak brings us to Quartzite Col where we will be greeted by the spectacular views of Mt Willingdon, the Siffleur Valley, and Clearwater Pass. Historically, the Siffleur Valley was visited by James Hector while searching for new railway routes for the trans-Canada railway and by British mountaineer, Norman Collie, while climbing and exploring in this region. The remote feel of this mountain climbing course is exaggerated by the potential for wildlife sightings which could include bears, wolves, or caribou.
Day 1: We will meet at the Yamnuska office at 6 am, which will allow us to issue any required equipment and check our gear for the trip before driving to the Mosquito Creek trailhead where the trip begins. After about 6 km of walking in the valley, we leave the trail to ascend to Quartzite Col and our first view of Mt Willingdon. A steep descent into the head of the Siffleur Valley leads to rolling open meadows and one of the Canadian Rockies’ most beautiful areas. From here we will continue towards the Devon Lakes where we will set up camp for the night looking up at the next day’s objective. (6-8 hours from the road)
Day 2: Summit day! An early start and a beautiful hike towards Devon Lake and Mt Willingdon. Although not technically difficult there is some exposure and a short cliff band to climb through en route to the summit via the West Ridge. We will be rewarded by views across an impressive icefield towards Clearwater Mountain and if conditions permit we may have the opportunity to traverse towards Mt Crown which is just short of 11000 feet. From camp, there is an elevation gain of approximately 1070m.
Day 3: We’ll break camp and retrace our steps through Clearwater Pass, the Siffleur Valley, and Quartzite Col to return to the trailhead.
Guides & Group Size
The maximum guide to guest ratio is 1:4. Our guides are enthusiastic and extremely talented. They hold certification from the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides and we are licensed to operate in the area by Parks Canada. The maximum group size is 8 (minimum 3).
Transportation is not included in this program. We will rely on guests’ vehicles to reach the trailhead.
Canmore is situated 100km (65miles) west of Calgary on the Trans-Canada Highway. It is well served by scheduled bus lines both from Calgary (airport and downtown), Banff (20km west), and points further west. Calgary International Airport is well connected to major cities throughout North America and Europe. Vehicle rental is available both in Calgary and in 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
On the trail you will be staying in modern, lightweight 3- and 2-person weather-proof tents.
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.
Excess luggage can be left at your hotel or our office.
All meals, snacks, and drinks are supplied from lunch on Day 1 to lunch on Day 3. Mountain meals are made from lightweight ingredients. 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, there is a surcharge. Our kitchen staff will assess your restrictions to inform you if the diet can be accommodated and what surcharge would apply. Vegetarian meals will not be surcharged.
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 group camping and climbing gear and the following personal technical gear. Please feel free to bring your own items if desired:
- Mountaineering ice axe
- Climbing harness
- Climbing helmet
- Prussic cord, slings, carabiners
We recommend you bring:
- Mountaineering 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)
- 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 (recommended)
- Music player and lightweight reading material (optional)
*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
- Heavyweight insulated 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)
- 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 (55-65 litres), as long as it is comfortable 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 at approximately -7°C. 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.
Mountaineering boots: A good pair of boots is essential. They need to be warm and crampon compatible. Yamnuska uses Scarpa Mont Blanc boots.
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 55-75 cm, and should be equipped with an adze. Yamnuska provides the Petzl Summit Axe.
Climbing harness: Should be sized to fit over your cold-weather clothing. It is recommended to have a harness with a belay/rappel loop.
Climbing helmet: A comfortable, all-around climbing helmet that can fit over your winter hat.
Please book as early as practical to avoid disappointment. Full payment is required at the time of 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 review 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.
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.
Cost: $950 CDN
Includes guides,out-trip meals, use of specialized climbing gear, and group camping gear.
Not included: Canmore accommodation, transportation, gratuities & taxes.
Departures can be set up on a private basis for individuals, families, or groups. We can organize a private departure and leave the trip open for more people to join. Please contact us if you would like to arrange your own departure and we will be happy to provide you with a quote based on your group’s size and trip options.
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.
More climbing: Yamnuska guides and instructors are also available for private climbing in the Rockies and elsewhere before and after the program.
Is it for you?
This is an easy mountaineering objective. No previous climbing experience is required, although some previous scrambling experience would be ideal. This is a great first trip for those trying to gain basic mountaineering summits and who have a moderate to high level of fitness.