The Fraser and Ramparts Group
Tucked away in Jasper National Park is a hidden gem known as the Tonquin Valley. The Tonquin Valley is home to some of the Rockies biggest and most technical alpine climbing objectives. The Ramparts lie along the Continental Divide and form the boundary between Alberta and British Columbia. The Valley was named after the Pacific Fur Company Ship Tonquin, destroyed in Clayoquot Sound in 1811.
This trip will see us based out of the Wates- Gibson Hut. The hut was originally built in 1930 and gives access to several world class alpine climbing objectives. The objectives we will focus on while based out of the hut will be Paragon and Outpost peaks.
Paragon Peak East Ridge 5.4-5.7 – The East Ridge is a classic quartzite ridge climb, and an excellent introduction to the alpine rock climbing in the Tonquin Valley. Paragon Peak is located on the Alberta/British Columbia Boarder. This airy ridge climb offers up incredible views of the surrounding valley . Expect a 10-12-hour return trip from the hut.
Outpost Peak 5.5-5.6 – The North Buttress will be the route of choice for Outpost Peak and is easily accessible from the Wates-Gibson Hut. The route climbs great quartzite once again in an ascetically pleasing position. After a short hike from the hut, ascend talus slopes to a long traverse with exposure to gain the buttress, where excellent scrambling leads to the difficulties above. Climb the first tower in three pitches, which lead to a second tower with steep climbing in another three pitches. A seventh pitch gains the ridge and another half hour of scrambling with exposure leads to the summit. Once on top we have options to descend the Southeast Ridge or traverse Memorial Peak and descend its West Ridge to reach moraines that head back to the hut. Expect a 10–12-hour return trip from the hut.
Day 1: We will meet at the Yamnuska Office at 6:00 am for the trip. After checking equipment and food we will drive to Jasper National Park and heads towards the Mt. Edith Cavell Hostel where we will hike to the Wates-Gibson Hut. The hike to the hut will take 5-6 hours at a total of 16.5 km with minimal elevation gain.
Day 2: We will plan on going for Paragon Peak on this day. Expect an early start and a long day for this objective. Total time round trip is 10-12 hours hut to hut.
Day 3: We will plan on attempting Outpost Peak on this day pending energy levels. Outpost Peak will be approximately 10-12 hours hut to hut. Another option for this day is McDonnell. The East Ridge is on excellent rock and is an enjoyable scramble mainly on 4th Class terrain. Expect 8-10 hours Hut to Hut.
Day 4: We will begin our final day with a great breakfast taking in the Tonquin Valley one more time out of the Wates-Gibson Hut before hiking 19km back to the vehicles and heading back to Canmore.
Instructors and Group Size
The maximum guide to guest ratio is 1:1. 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 2.
Meeting Time & Place
We will meet all guests at our office in Canmore at 6:00 am MST on the first day. We are located at #200, 50 Lincoln Park, Canmore, AB. Map
Participants are responsible for their own transport to Canmore which is a 1 hour (100km) drive west of Calgary.
Transportation while on the program is not included. We rely on guests’ personal vehicles to reach program locations. Park Entry Passes are not included in the program price and are the responsibility of the guest.
It is wise to arrive in Canmore the day before the course (see “accommodation” below).
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
During the trip, we stay in alpine huts operated by the Alpine Club of Canada. Sleeping areas are communal and facilities are basic. Wates-Gibson Hut is equipped with indoor propane lighting and cooking facilities. The hut has a wood stove for heat. Outhouses are standard and large enough to offer privacy for personal washing. There are no showers or flush toilets.
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.
Excess luggage can be left at your hotel or our office during the trip.
All meals, snacks, and drinks are supplied from lunch on Day 1 to lunch on Day 4. 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, 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.
Please let us know the details by filling out a Food Questionnaire when you sign up for the program.
Weather and Climbs
Please note that the weather may prevent a safe attempt on these objectives. In this case, we will either schedule another peak or a day of mountaineering instruction. The mountains call the shots and the wise mountaineer takes heed. Thus, we never guarantee climbs.
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. Please let us know if you would like to use the following Yamnuska gear:
- Mountaineering ice axe
- Climbing harness
- Climbing helmet
- Belay device, 3 locking carabiners, prussic cord, 120 cm sling
We recommend you bring:
- Lightweight mountaineering boots* (must be crampon compatible)
- Rock shoes*
- Multiday pack* (60–70 litres)
- Daypack* (30-40 litres)
- Sleeping bag*
- Water bottle
- 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. 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 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 -2° 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.
Lightweight mountaineering boots: A good pair of boots is essential. One good option is lightweight leather or synthetic mountaineering boots with either a semi-rigid or a rigid sole. It is possible to buy boots such as the La Sportiva “Trango” which is designed specifically for alpine rock and which can take a crampon.
Rock shoes: A shoe that has a flat sole and is not sized uncomfortably tight will be the best choice for a variety of climbs.
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.
Please book as early as practical to avoid disappointment. A 35% deposit (including GST) is required at the time of booking. The final payment is due eight weeks before the start of the program. We accept Visa, Mastercard, Canadian Cheques, Money Orders, and Bank Drafts. Credit card payments are easiest, especially for international travellers.
We ask that you make yourself familiar 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.
$2995 CDN covers guided climbing and instruction, hut fees, out-trip meals, and the use of specialized group climbing gear.
Not included: Transportation, Canmore accommodation, Goods & Services Tax (GST).
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?
The Tonquin Valley Program is not a program for beginners. We require that you have recent alpine-style mountaineering experience (or extensive multi-pitch rock experience) beforehand, and you will need to complete our experience questionnaire upon booking. When making your booking we can advise you as to the feasibility of your attempting these objectives.