Along the Icefields Parkway, just north of Lake Louise, this majestic peak was the second of the Canadian Rockies 11,000ers to be climbed. Standing on the summit of Mt Hector you will be following in the footsteps of some of the Canadian Rockies’ most famous mountaineers: Charles Fay, Charles Thompson, and Philip Abbot. You will enjoy amazing panoramic views of the Lake Louise group and the Wapta Icefields with this alpine touring ski package. Then the best is yet to come – a fantastic ski run back down to the toe of the glacier. Our Mount Hector ski tour is a fun and efficient way to experience the mountain.
This is a great spring ski mountaineering objective on one of the tallest peaks in the Canadian Rockies! Beautiful views and a long glacier ski run will be the reward for our efforts on this 11,000-foot classic.
Day 1: We will meet at our office in Canmore at 7:30 pm. After introductions, we will discuss trip objectives, review avalanche bulletins, and perform an equipment check. It is ideal to sort logistics and other details the night before so that when we meet tomorrow we can leave immediately for the trailhead. Tomorrow will be a big and challenging day.
Day 2: We will meet at our office at 6:00 am and carpool out to the Mt Hector trailhead on the Icefields Parkway. An early start is essential. After a steep 3.5 km climb with 720 meters of elevation gain, we will reach the toe of the glacier. Expect 3-4 hours for this section of the trip. The Hector glacier will be our route which will require route finding through crevassed terrain and a final short technical section to reach the summit. At 11,135 feet we will be ascending 830 meters over 3.5 km from the toe of the glacier to the summit. Our reward on the summit will be the views of other 11,000ers in the area: Mt Temple and Mt Victoria as well as the peaks on the Wapta Icefields. Mt Hector is one of the classic ski ascents in the Rockies and offers a staggering 1500m plus ski descent to the road. A spectacular day!
Instructors and Group Size
Your ski guides are certified by the internationally recognized Association of Canadian Mountain Guides and also licensed by Parks Canada. There will be a maximum of 4 participants per guide. There will be a maximum of 8 guests, a minimum of 3.
We will meet all guests at our office in Canmore at 7:30 pm on the first day (Map).
Transportation is not included in this program. We will rely on guest’s vehicles to reach the trailhead.
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.
Accommodation and Meals
Accommodations and meals are not included.
Accommodation in Canmore before and after the program is not included. A variety of accommodation options exist in both Canmore and Banff. 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.
Yamnuska guests receive exclusive rates with Clique Hotels & resorts upon booking an adventure with either Yamnuska Mountain Adventures or Canadian Rockies Hiking by Yamnuska. (Please note that some rates are non-refundable)
Excess luggage can be left at your hotel or our office.
Weather and Conditions Note
Weather and avalanche danger in the Canadian Rockies can vary from day to day. If the avalanche danger or weather conditions do not allow for Mt Hector to be a reasonable objective we may have to choose a different objective such as Crowfoot Peak. Regardless, expect the trip to be a great adventure in a beautiful area. We need good visibility to climb Mt Hector.
Equipment and Clothing
You will need to bring a variety of equipment as listed below. The equipment and clothing you bring will have a big impact on the quality of your experience. Please be sure to bring all the items listed. If unsure about anything please don’t hesitate to call and ask us!
There are two ski systems you can use: System 1: Alpine Touring skis are essentially downhill skis with a special touring binding which allows the heel to lift while going uphill or across the flats and then ‘locks down’ to become a regular downhill safety binding. We recommend this system to anyone with a background in downhill skiing. System 2: Telemark skis. These should only be used for this program if you are at least an advanced-intermediate telemark skier with some backcountry experience. This system is more difficult and less forgiving than the other.
Which should you use? If you are a downhill skier then you should use Alpine Touring gear. Only if you are already an advanced Telemark skier should you bring Telemark gear.
If you are snowboarding you need to be an advanced splitboarder and you need to be on a splitboard. This is not a good introductory splitboard trip if you have never boarded in the backcountry before.
Both types of gear can be rented in Canmore or Calgary prior to the course.
You need to bring:
- Skis We recommend a short (160 – 185cm) wide ski designed for powder. Please see note under rental information if you are renting ski equipment.
- Climbing skins ‘Stick-on type’
- Avalanche Transceivers – digital transceiver with triple antennae (rentals available)
- Collapsible Avalanche Probe (rentals available)
- Avalanche Shovel (rentals available)
- Ski Poles
- Ski boots
- Ski Helmet (or climbing helmet if you do not have a ski helmet)
- Ski Crampons – must fit your skis
- Crampons (Yamnuska will provide if you do not have your own)
- Ice Axe (Yamnuska will provide if you do not have your own)
- Climbing Harness (lightweight if possible)
- Prussic cord, slings and carabiners
- Sunglasses and ski goggles
- Thermos flask and water bottle.
- Sunblock & Lip Cream
- Pocket knife
- Headlamp with fresh batteries
- Small Blister & 1st-Aid Kit
- Small repair kit for bindings, skis or splitboard (this may include straps, nuts, bolts, small leatherman)
- Backpack Big enough to fit extra clothing, group gear and your food. Internal frame packs are the most comfortable and are recommended. A 40-50L pack is suitable. (rentals available)
Additional gear info:
- Skis/splitboard: There are three viable backcountry systems, Alpine Touring, Telemark, and Splitboard.
- Alpine Touring: Essentially downhill skis with a special touring binding which allows the heel to lift when going uphill and then locks down to become an alpine binding for the downhill.
- Telemark: Free-heel telemark bindings should only be used for this program if you are at least an intermediate/advanced telemark skier with backcountry experience.
- Splitboard: Snowboarders sometimes use a splitboard in the backcountry. This system is enjoyable on the descent, but frustrating on the flats. The transitions between uphill and downhill can also be very time-consuming. If using this system, please ensure that you are proficient at switching your bindings.
- Boots: Backcountry boots are different from regular alpine ski boots. In the backcountry, boots need to have an uphill mode that allows a free range of motion in the upper part of the boot. You should not use your regular ski boots for touring and walking uphill.
- Climbing skins: The glue on the base of the skin should be in good condition and the skins need to be properly fitted. Try the skins on your skis/splitboard to make sure they are the right length and width before you arrive.
- Ski poles: Backcountry poles need powder baskets on the tips.
- Avalanche beacon: A three antennae transceiver is required. Yamnuska uses the Backcountry Access Tracker 2 for all of our winter programs.
- Probe: A minimum of 240 cm in length.
- Shovel: A metal blade shovel is required.
Glacier gear: The key with the glacier travel kit is minimizing weight and bulk
- Harness – Ski Randonee harness is strongly suggested to cut back on both weight and bulk.
- 2 Lightweight Locking Carabineers
- 1 Lightweight Pear Shape Locking Munter Carabiner
- 2 Lightweight Non-Locking Carabineers
- 2 x 6mm x 5 m Cordelette/Accessory Cord – minimum breaking strength 10KN
- 1 x 120cm Sewn Sling (double length sling)
- 1 x 19cm Ice Screw
- Aluminum Ice Axe – The shorter and lighter the better.
We suggest bringing light clothing of varying thicknesses that can be ‘layered’ to achieve comfort and versatility. The most important consideration for clothing is the ability to regulate temperature as you change from periods of activity to periods of rest and from the ascent to the descent.
- Long underwear top and bottoms (lightweight synthetic or wool)
- Softshell pants (nylon blend, lightly insulated)
- Medium weight fleece top
- Softshell Jacket or fleece jacket
- Insulated jacket or vest
- Waterproof jacket with hood (Gore-Tex)
- Waterproof pants
- Socks – ski socks (wool or synthetic), several sets
- Wool or fleece hat
- Waterproof ski mountaineering gloves or mitts
- Lightweight gloves
Skis, Boots, Boards, Skins & Poles can be rented from:
Calgary: Mountain Equipment Co-op. – 830-10 Ave. S.W. Calgary (Tel: 403 269-2420)
Canmore: Gear Up – 1302 Bow Valley Trail (403 678-1636)
*Please note that your ‘DIN’ or ‘Release Value’ settings on your ski bindings are critical to your safety while skiing. Our expectation is that everyone arrives on programs with their ski binding’s release value correctly set. We have noted that some ski rental shops will not set release values on touring bindings. We advise you to rent from a shop that will set release values on your ski touring bindings unless you are proficient and comfortable setting your own DIN/release value. Failure to have Release Values correctly set could result in a serious injury.
Please call our office if you have any questions.
Please book as early as practical to avoid disappointment. We require full payment on booking.
It is wise to ensure that your health plan will cover you in case of illness or accident while here. Obtain extra coverage if necessary. There is no charge for a rescue so long as you have a valid National Park Entry Pass which you can obtain on entry to Banff National Park.
Please familiarize yourself with our detailed booking instructions and conditions.
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, the 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’s trip.
$295 CDN includes certified guide and group glacier equipment. You will be required to bring adequate clothing and equipment for the day of ski touring. GST is extra.
Trip Cancellation Insurance is available through the Simpson Group.
Is it for you?
This is a moderate ski mountaineering objective, and while some previous backcountry skiing experience is required, this is a great trip for those looking to expand their skills, learn about ski mountaineering and enjoy a glaciated ski ascent. A moderate to a high level of fitness is required to participate in this trip.
Guests on this trip should be intermediate downhill backcountry skiers in all conditions on either alpine touring, telemark or split board equipment. Participants do not need to be experts, however, you must be able to safely descend. Previous ski touring experience on a course such as an Intro to Backcountry Skiing or the Wapta Traverse is required.
Skiers and Splitboarders should be competent with their transitions (switching from ski tour mode to downhill mode). Splitboarders should be comfortable skiing downhill in split mode.
Splitboarders should have their downhill kick turns dialled, as this skill will be used frequently to traverse downhill and across slopes at mellow angles.
We strongly urge skiers and Splitboarders to bring spare parts for their setups. Most of our guides are familiar with splitboarding sets ups, but each system is different, and our expectation is that guests will have basic knowledge on common Splitboard concerns (i.e. replacing toe straps on Splitboard bindings).