The mountains near Lake Louise are considered the birthplace of Canadian mountaineering. Since the establishment of the Canadian Pacific Railroad, the peaks that dominate the sky around Lake Louise in Banff National Park remain classic objectives for mountaineers and alpinists. The routes and peaks chosen for our Lake Louise alpine climbing trip will test your skills and help you develop new techniques. The scenery is only outdone by the overwhelming sense of accomplishment you will undoubtedly feel after participating in this classic mountaineering trip.
Our alpine objectives this week are the spectacular summits surrounding Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, such as South Victoria, Mt. Huber, and Mt. Fay. This is going to be a terrific week of alpine climbing and training. And, if you are pressed for time, you can join us for the first three days only.
Our goal is to enjoy a week of alpine mountaineering objectives on the large peaks surrounding Lake Louise.
Day 1: We meet at the Yamnuska office in Canmore at 7:00 am for introductions and a review of goals and objectives. Then we drive towards Lake Louise where we will catch a bus into Lake O’Hara and climb up to our bivi site on the Huber Ledges. The approach to the ledges involves hiking, 4th class scrambling, and a short pitch of climbing. It should take us 3-4 hours to complete. Once at the bivi site, we will set up camp and enjoy dinner while taking in the high alpine views of the O’Hara region.
Day 2: After a quick breakfast we will step out of camp right onto the Huber Glacier and begin our ascent of South Victoria. The glacier will lead us to steep snow gullies on the west face of Mt. Victoria, we will ascend these to gain the ridge and scramble along exposed ridge line all the way to the summit. On the ridge we will be treated to great views of the Lake Louise and Lake O’Hara areas. Once we reach the summit and take in some more views and photos, we will reverse the route back to camp where we can relax and recover in the afternoon sun.
Day 3: Today’s objective will be Mt. Huber. We’ll follow yesterday’s track up the glacier, but this time at the col we will head right towards the Northeast Ridge. The Ridge is comprised of several pitches of steep snow and alpine ice climbing. After photos and high fives on the summit we will rappel back down the ridge and walk back to camp. After a short rest at camp, we’ll pack up and hike back down to the bus at Lake O’Hara and drive to Lake Louise to enjoy a meal out and an evening at the Lake Louise campground.
Day 4: Today we will depart from Lake Louise and approach the Neil Colgan hut. After hiking around the shores of Moraine Lake we climb through the quartzite and limestone bands of the Perren Route. A final traverse of the glacier will bring us to the Neil Colgan Hut below Mt. Little. Those with energy left may have time to scramble up Mt Bowlen in the evening.
Day 5: Mt Fay is the prize for the day. With an early start, we will traverse the glacier to the base of the snow and ice slopes that lead to the rocky West ridge. Airy but easy rock climbing and scrambling will take us to the summit where we will have fantastic views of the surrounding peaks including Mt Temple.
Day 6: For those with energy to spare we will look at a morning climb of Mt Little behind the hut. We will return to the hut before heading down the Perren route rappels and retracing our steps around Moraine Lake where the program finishes.
The maximum guide to guest ratio on this program is 1:2. Yamnuska Mountain Adventures only employs qualified ACMG or IFMGA certified guides and assistant guides who are licensed to operate in the area by Parks Canada. The maximum group size is 6.
The program begins at the Yamnuska office at 07:00 am on Day 1. The Yamnuska office is located at 200, 50 Lincoln Park.
Transportation while on the program is not included. We rely on guests’ personal vehicles to reach program locations. If flying, we recommend you rent a car from Calgary Airport. You may be able to share the cost with other participants. Park Entry fees are not included.
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
During the trip, we will be camping at a bivy site as well as a front-country campground and the Neil Colgan hut.
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 accommodation well in advance as all levels of accommodation in the Bow Valley fill quickly.
All Breakfast and lunches, snacks, and beverages are provided from lunch on day 1 to the final day of your program. We will be providing dinners while in the backcountry, however night 3 (in town meal) will not be covered. There is a good selection of restaurants in Lake Louise that we have as options for our dinner in town.
Mountain meals are made from nutritious, healthy ingredients and are cooked and dehydrated in our own kitchen by our chef. 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 surcharge. For a diet requiring any 2 or more restrictions, an additional surcharge will apply. 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. Vegetarian meals will not be surcharged.
Please let us know the details by filling out a Food Questionnaire when you sign up for the program.
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.
Group climbing gear such as ropes and hardware is provided, but we recommend bringing your own personal climbing gear. We will also supply tents, sleeping pads, and cooking equipment. Please let us know if you would like to use the following Yamnuska gear:
- Mountaineering ice axe
- Climbing harness
- Climbing helmet
- Belay device and pear-shaped locking carabiners
- Prussic cord, slings, carabiners, and gear (we suggest 2 locking carabiners, 2 non-locking carabiners, 1 ice screw, 1 x 120cm sewn sling, 2 x 5m by 7mm cord)
You will need to bring:
- Mountaineering boots* (must be crampon compatible)
- Rock shoes (optional – may be used in poor weather conditions)
- Multiday pack* (55–65 litres)
- Daypack (25-30 litres), (optional)
- Sleeping bag*
- 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)
*These items are available for rent. Please advise us in advance. Gear rentals price list
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 (55-70 litres), 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.
Sleeping bag: We recommend a three-season bag rated to approximately –9° 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 mountaineering boots is essential. One good option is leather or synthetic mountaineering boots with either a semi-rigid or a rigid sole that is crampon compatible. You are welcome to try the Scarpa Mont Blanc or Charmoz boots that Yamnuska rents.
Crampons: Crampons should have anti-snow-balling plates and need to be compatible with your boots. We use the Petzl Vasak crampons
Mountaineering ice-axe: Your ice axe should be 55-70 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.
Helmet: A comfortable, all-around climbing helmet that can fit over your winter hat.
Please book as early as practical to avoid disappointment.
We require a 35% deposit including GST at the time of booking. The final balance is due 8 weeks before the program start date.
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. 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.
Please call our office to organize a custom program
6-day program: $2995 includes guiding, 5 nights’ accommodation as outlined in the itinerary, out trip meals, Park Wilderness Pass, and use of technical equipment. Dinner on day 3 in lake Louise is not included.
3-day program: $1495 includes guiding, camping and bivy fees, out trip meals, Park Wilderness Pass, and use of technical equipment.
Not included: Canmore accommodation, Park Entry fees, Dinner (day 3) in Lake Louise and Gratuities & taxes.
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?
This is a challenging program involving lots of height gain, not only to the peaks but also to the Neil Colgan hut. Good hiking fitness is required as this program involves six consecutive days of high climbing. You need to have at least basic mountaineering experience and some rock climbing experience is recommended. In the context of Yamnuska’s programs, we suggest you have completed at least our Snow and Ice Long Weekend or Intro to Mountaineering.