Over the past decade, Rock Climbing has exploded in popularity. With the increase in the number of indoor climbing gyms, this sport can be enjoyed and practiced year-round. Canmore and the Canadian Rockies offer some of the best outdoor rock climbing areas in the world. In addition to long and challenging multi-pitch routes, there are fantastic beginner crags and climbing areas. Yamnuska Mountain Adventures offers a wide range of rock climbing instruction and guiding for people of all skill levels. Whether you are the complete beginner who has never climbed before or the highly skilled climber looking to tick off the list of classics, we invite you to sign up for one of Yamnuska’s guided rock-climbing trips in Banff, Canmore and Lake Louise. Throughout this page we will attempt to give you a bit of information that may help you better understand our sport and provide you with some insight should you be considering giving outdoor rock climbing a try.
The rock climbing season in Canmore and the Canadian Rockies runs from around May to the end of September depending on temperatures and elevation. Crags around Canmore, Banff and Kananaskis can often be climbed into early October. Higher elevation routes or those in more mountainous areas typically go out of season in mid-September.
Experiential Rock Climbing
Experiential Rock Climbing programs (half day and full day instruction) generally run May to mid-September. These are held at climbing areas in Banff, Kananaskis and Canmore and provide great accessible venues for an introduction to this rewarding sport.
People of all ages and physical capabilities can try this fun sport without feeling like they need brute upper body strength. If done properly, beginner pitches should feel very similar to climbing a ladder. Many beginner climbers default to using their arms to ‘pull’ themselves up routes but we teach you to use the biggest muscles (legs) in your body to do most of the work. Like all technical sports, proper technique goes a long way, making good coaching and instruction all the more important. Advanced rock climbing on steep pitches requires great skill, strength and stamina so this is typically developed over years of training and experience.
- Beginner Experiential Rock Climbing Programs: On demand through the summer months for individuals, families or groups.
Rock Climbing Courses
Beginner rock climbing is taught at single pitch or top roping climbing areas close to Canmore. Top roping means you have an anchor at the top of a climb that the rope is threaded through to the bottom. Using proper equipment and techniques, the climber is belayed from the bottom of the climb by a partner. Multi-pitch rock climbing is more complicated and requires a higher level of skill. Most of our two day beginner courses are followed by an optional multi-pitch day. In other words, after two days of good instruction most people are able to complete their first guided multi-pitch rock climb!
Our rock climbing is done in a mountainous environment so layering your clothing is a great strategy for ensuring you are never too hot or too cold. Bulky clothing can get in the way and can also restrict your movement. Close fitting clothes are best for your rock climbing adventure. Weather and conditions can change quickly in the mountains so having wind proof and waterproof layers will ensure you are comfortable and fully enjoying your time on the rock.
When doing any type of climbing we always recommend you stay hydrated and have lots of high energy snacks. On warm days, dehydration can be an issue. Exposing your skin to the direct sun may also lead to burns and accelerate dehydration. Wearing thin UV rated layers will protect your skin against the sun. Exposed areas such as your face, ears, neck and hands should always be protected with a high rated SPF sunscreen or sun block.
Beginner locations we regularly use are Yamnuska Bluffs near Canmore, Wasootch Slabs in Kananaskis and Rundle Rock in Banff. High quality multi-pitch climbs of varying grades are scattered throughout Canmore, Kananaskis and Banff. A lot of classic climbs have very short approaches and are easily accessed from well maintained trails. The views are spectacular!
Rock climbing is another great way to stay active and enjoy the outdoors. Getting to the top of a rock climb can leave you with a sense of accomplishment that is unmatched. If you live in Canada or are a visitor to this part of the world, you owe it to yourself to give rock climbing in the Canadian Rockies a try. We would love it if you chose us for your beginner or expert level climbing adventure.
- Rock Climbing Level 1 – Outdoor Rock Intro: Designed for those who have never climbed before or who have done some basic climbing either in the gym or outdoors. Learn basic climbing movement skills and top rope techniques for rock climbing outdoors. An introduction to the skills necessary for seconding on both sport and ‘trad’ multi pitch climbs is also included.
- Rock Climbing Level 2 – Learn to Lead: Rock 2 focuses on the skills needed to become a confident sport climbing leader. We will develop the technical skills required to belay, lead and clean single pitch sport climbs as well as develop movement skills to efficiently move across the rock while leading.
- Rock Climbing Levels 1 & 2: Rock Evolution: A 5-day course designed for beginner to intermediate climbers. Start with the basics of movement, equipment and the top rope system and progress onto learning to lead on bolted sport climbs. The course also introduces instruction on the multi-pitch system, traditional gear placement/removal, rope handling techniques and plenty of movement skill coaching and development.
- Private Multi-pitch & Instructional Rock Climbing: Ready to take the next step in your rock climbing adventure. Yamnuska’s skilled guides are available for private guiding for any new skill or on any multi-pitch rock route in the Canadian Rockies.
For the experienced rock climber we have several options for additional training or guiding on multi-pitch routes.
- Rock Climbing Level 3 – Multi-Pitch Climbing: This course focuses on the skills required to successfully and efficiently complete multi-pitch climbs at almost any rock climbing destination. Skill development will focus on: route selection, belaying methods in the multi-pitch setting, protecting both the leader and the second while climbing, anchor construction and considerations for multi pitch climbing, route finding on route, rappel descents and emergency preparedness.
- Rock Climbing Level 4 – Trad Rock Leader: The Trad Rock Leader course consists of two days of intensive traditional rock climbing training with an optional “Plus Day” on an advanced multi-pitch climb.
- Rock Climbing Level 5 – Rock Rescue & Advanced Ropework: Learn the basics of self and partner rescue on rock. Rescue for Rock Climbers will give you these tools so that you can be more confident in dealing with an emergency situation in the rock climbing environment.
- Ghost Rock: This 5-day program takes place in The Ghost Valley, a hidden gem of classic gun smoke colored limestone cliffs.
- Hot Rock: 3-day multi-pitch program. One of our most adventurous climbing programs will see you seconding some of the most picturesque and towering multi-pitch routes that can be found in the Canadian Rockies
- Private Multi-pitch & Instructional Rock Climbing: Ready to take the next step in your rock climbing adventure. Yamnuska’s skilled guides are available for private guiding for any new skill or on any multipitch rock route in the Canadian Rockies.
Rock Climbing Season
Rock climbing is typically available from May until mid-October. Optimum season is mid-May to late September.
These can be arranged for individuals, families and groups. They are customized to meet your specific needs and objectives. They can be at beginner or advanced levels or focus on specific aspects of climbing such as sport climbing, “trad leading”, multi-pitch climbing or instruction for kids. Courses can be for one or several days. Prices vary depending upon whether for multi-pitch or single pitch climbing.
The mission with ROCK RESPECT is to educate rock climbers about sustainable recreation and the safest rock climbing practices available. We want to educate the climbing community to be a responsible user group that respects and reduces environmental impact, and assumes own personal risk while rock climbing outdoors. Rock climbing is growing in popularity and with this comes a growing number of climbers making the transition from the gym to the real rocks. To create nationally unified and approved climbing information, all of the information on their website has been created in collaboration with numerous access coalitions & climbing organizations across Canada.