Rock climbing is an exhilarating sport and our beginner rock climbing course is a great way for you to get started. As the foundation for many other types of mountain climbing trips learning to rock climb is essential for future skill development. And where better to learn than the Canadian Rockies! The Canadian Rockies surrounding Banff, Canmore, and Lake Louise offer seemingly endless opportunities for beginners to get the skills they need to continue rock climbing.
The Outdoor Rock Intro beginner rock climbing course is designed for those who have never climbed before or who have done some basic climbing either in the gym or outdoors. In this outdoor rock climbing course for beginners, you will learn foundational 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 covered in the outdoor rock climbing course for beginners so you can immediately start climbing with more experienced climbers. Developing these skills early on will allow you to progress at a quicker rate and you will likely find climbing much more rewarding. You will be taught and coached by our very talented and certified guides delivering our well-established curriculum. Like any technical sport, learning proper skills and techniques early will ensure you develop good habits versus bad ones.
Sign up for our ‘Plus Day’ on an optional Day 3 of the rock climbing training program for beginners where you can join a guide-led team to climb one of the many great multi-pitch climbs in the region. And, if you want to take your learning one step further, book the Rock 2 – Learn to Lead course in the same season.
Day 1: 8:00 am at the Yamnuska Office and Local Climbing Area
- Welcome, introduction, goals, agenda, and issue gear
- Introduction to hazard evaluation and risk management at the crag
- Introduce climbing equipment (proper fit and strengths)
- Learn and practice the basics of movement on rock (bouldering)
- Introduction to the ‘Top Rope’ rock climbing
- Learn to tie in to the climbing rope
- Practice the ‘Top Rope’ belay and lowering system – establish proper techniques and habits
- Learn Climbing communication calls
- Introduction to rope care and management
- Continued movement skills training and development while climbing routes
Day 2: At Local Climbing Area
- Local crag hazard evaluation and risk management
- Learn and practice intermediate movement skills on rock (bouldering)
- Instruction and practice rappelling
- Consolidate ‘Top Roping’ skills
- Introduction to ‘Lead’ belaying
- Introduction to the ‘multi-pitch’ system
- Introduction to the basics of ‘Traditional’ gear placement and removal
- Continued movement skills training and development on steeper rock
- Debrief and instruction for further progressions for rock climbing
Rock Climbing Locations
We use a variety of locations on this program. These include the Yamnuska “Practice Cliffs”, Zygote Buttress near Exshaw, Wasootch Creek in Kananaskis Country, Rundle Rock at Banff or, one of our favourites, ” Back of the Lake” at Lake Louise. They are all great beginner rock climbing areas in beautiful mountain locations.
Stay for an extra day where you can join a guide-led team to climb one of the many great multi-pitch climbs in the region and put your new skills into practice. The instructor-to-student ratio is 1:2. We divide into compatible teams, choose a suitable ‘multi-pitch’ route (several rope lengths in height) and spend the whole day climbing it. Climbs include routes on Mt. Yamnuska, Kid Goat Buttress, Tunnel Mountain, and Cascade. $385 plus GST. Available following ‘Outdoor Rock Intro’.
Meeting Time and Place
The course begins at the Yamnuska office at 8:00 am on Day 1. The Yamnuska office is located at #200 – 50 Lincoln Park, Canmore. See this map for location.
Instructors and Group Size
Enthusiastic and extremely talented, your instructors hold rock climbing or alpine certification from the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides. Our instructors are chosen not just for their technical climbing virtuosity but also for their ability to instruct and coach.
Instructor to student ratios range down from 1:6. On “Plus” days 1:2 is the norm. The minimum group size is 3.
To keep prices down participants are responsible for their own transport to Canmore and during the program. Canmore is a 1hour (100km) drive west of Calgary.
If you are flying from afar for the program we suggest that you rent a car for your visit. In addition to getting you to the climbing locations, it will allow you to explore our region after program hours. For example, you can visit Banff and enjoy the hot pools and sample the numerous restaurants.
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
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.
Food is not supplied. You will need lunch, energy snacks, and plenty to drink each day. We recommend a minimum of 1 L of fluids per day, more if it is hot.
Equipment and Clothing
The course fee includes the use of rock shoes and technical gear although you should feel free to bring any gear you already have.
The weather encountered on this program varies greatly, with the courses at the beginning and the end of the season more prone to cold conditions. The list below covers all possibilities. Should sunny warm conditions be forecast some items may be unnecessary. Remember that weather can change fast so even if the day starts out sunny you may still need rain gear in the afternoon. Conditions on the higher climbs on the ‘Plus Days’ are often colder.
Clothing and Equipment List
- Lunch, snacks, and plenty to drink
- Daypack (large enough for spare clothing, your lunch & personal and group climbing gear)
- Sun cream
- Rain Gear (minimum jacket, pants if available)
- Clothing allowing for easy and complete range of movement
- Warm weather gear (fleece jacket, long johns, warm hat, gloves, etc.)
- Rock shoes (available for your use at no extra charge, please let us know in advance if needing to use these)
- Hiking boots or running shoes for the hike to the climbing area.
- Harness, helmet, belay device if you have them (we will supply these if necessary), chalk bag
Please book as early as practical to avoid disappointment. We require full payment on booking.
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 with the purchase of a park entry pass, 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.
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.
$485 CDN covers instruction and the use of technical gear. Accommodation and meals are not included but low cost, easy options exist which we can tell you about. Goods and Services Tax (GST) is extra.
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 course is designed for: People who have never climbed before, have minimal experience or are basic indoor gym climbers.
If you are an indoor climber who climbs 5.9 or greater and you are leading or feel ready to lead you should consider our ‘Rock 2 – Learn to Lead’ course.
Yamnuska guides and instructors are also available for private guided rock climbing instruction.