Mt Joffre combines the remote feel of an expedition peak with some of the most stunning scenery that the Canadian Rockies has to offer! Mt Joffre dominates the skyline in Kananaskis Country, a wilderness area less visited than the Mountain National Parks, but considered a hidden treasure to those of us who live and explore the Canadian Rockies. This mountain climbing expedition for beginners brings together all the fantastic aspects of a great expedition: challenging days, alpine glow on early morning summit starts, stunning panoramas of quintessential alpine scenery, and great company. Designed as a peak-bagging trip, this program is suitable for beginner mountaineers, or fit, experienced backpackers who wish to climb their first glaciated peak.
This is an ambitious and strenuous program that encompasses both a fantastic summit climb and superb scenery. Please read the ‘Is it for you?’ section on the sidebar to the right.
Day 1: Meet in Canmore at 6:00 am. After issuing food and gear we pack up and drive south along Highway 40 to Kananaskis Lakes which will take just over an hour. We enjoy a warm-up hike around the Upper Lake for 5.5 km before striking into the forest towards Hidden Lake and the high country surrounding it. This is a grind with your full pack. Working around Hidden Lake we reach the trail that climbs high above Foch Creek to take us into the high alpine basins above. We camp just below Aster Lake, one of the prettiest alpine lakes in the region. Distance: 11 km, total elevation gain: 575 meters.
Day 2: Weather and conditions permitting our objective today will be Mount Joffre. At 11’316 ft (3449 m), this glaciated peak dominates this southern region of the Rockies. In July, there is typically still lots of snow on the glacier which makes this peak a suitable climb for beginner to intermediate mountaineers. The route traverses scree slopes, rock steps, and glaciated terrain giving guests a taste of glacier travel and mountaineering. In the event of poor weather or conditions, there are several alternative peaks we can climb. Distance: 10km, total elevation gain, and loss: 1150m.
Day 3: We retrace our steps as we will descend from the sub-alpine into the lush forests on the valley floor that surround Upper Kananaskis Lake. The gentle hike around that lake will allow the past two days of adventure to begin to sink in. We will finish our trip back at the Yamnuska office in Canmore. Distance 11km, total elevation loss: 575m.
Guides and 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 the Province of Alberta. The maximum group size is 12.
Transportation is not included in this program. We will rely on guests’ vehicles to reach the trailhead at Upper Kananaskis Lake.
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.
Frequent shuttles connect Calgary International Airport and 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 and 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* (55–65 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.
A pack cover or garbage bag may be useful in case of wet conditions
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:
In Kananaskis Country, there may be a charge for rescue if you need to be evacuated by professional services. We strongly recommend travel and medical insurance that will cover you in the unlikely event of an emergency.
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.
Includes guides, Park fees, 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 one of our most strenuous 11,000’er programs. Participants must have a high level of aerobic fitness and be able to carry a full backpack over moderate trails.
Previous backpacking experience is required. Much of the travel will be over steep and broken ground and involves significant elevation gain and loss. In addition to regular backpacking gear, we will be carrying some mountaineering gear. By keeping personal gear light, pack weights need not exceed 20kg (44lbs) on the 1st and 3rd days. On the summit day, we will be carrying light day packs weighing approximately 10kg (22lbs) with mountaineering equipment, food, and some personal gear.
Prior mountaineering experience is advised though not essential. Individuals with the pre-requisite fitness will be taught the necessary basic skills by our guides during the trip.