Are you looking to travel to some of the best ski mountaineering terrain in North America? Do you enjoy accessing 11,000ft peaks within a couple of hours of a remote hut with all the basic amenities that one needs to create a trip of a lifetime? Then this is the trip for you.
We will begin our adventure with a helicopter flight to the Lyell Hut which is the highest elevation ski touring hut in Canada. Perched on a rock outcrop at 2860m surrounded by glaciers on all sides this makes it the ideal location to climb & ski the 5 Lyell peaks.
After spending a couple of days out of the Lyell Hut, we will begin our tour to the Mons hut that sits at the toe of the Mons glacier at 2370m. From here we can access 8 potential glaciers and work towards skiing Mons Peak, St. Julien or Cambria to name a few. After an exciting couple of days, the helicopter will pick us up at the Mons hut and bring us back to our staging area location in Donald, BC.
Each hut sleeps up to 12 people and has a heater, propane ovens, a full kitchen set up and solar-powered lights.
Day 1: (Evening) We will meet at our office in Canmore at 6:30 pm. After introductions, we will discuss trip objectives, review avalanche bulletins, and complete an extensive 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 helipad in Golden.
Day 2: We will drive the 2 hours to the Helipad in Golden, once we have completed the helicopter orientation and pre-flight logistics, we’ll be on our way to the Lyell hut which is about a 15min flight. On arrival, we’ll drop off some gear and head straight out to ski some of the Lyells.
Day 3: Today we’ll aim to head out at first light and tick off some of the remaining Lyells. Expect a long and rewarding day with amazing skiing and views.
Day 4: After a leisurely breakfast we’ll have a short ski uphill before starting our traverse towards the Mons hut which finishes with an excellent ski run right to the door of the hut.
Day 5: We will be up and at am early for the last day and aim for one of the many classic objectives from the Mons hut. The location will be based on conditions on that day. From our objective, we’ll be able to ski all the way back to the Mons hut before catching our return flight back to Golden.
Meeting Time and Place
The course begins on Day 1 at 6:30 pm at the Yamnuska office. The Yamnuska office is located at #200 – 50 Lincoln Park, Canmore. See this map for location.
The Lyells. Located on the Great Divide boundary of BC-Alberta. The Lyells are a subrange of the Central Icefields in the Canadian Rockies.
Guides and Group Size
The maximum guide to guest ratio is 1:6. The guides are enthusiastic and extremely talented, they hold guide certification from the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides and we are licensed to operate in the area by B.C. Parks. The maximum group size is 10.Minimum of 4 participants.
Participants are responsible for their own transport to Canmore and during the program. Canmore is a 1 hour (100km) drive west from Calgary. Guests will typically transport the guide to Golden, BC.
Accommodation and Meals
During the trip, we will stay at privately owned Mountain Huts that are included in the pricing for the program. Accommodation in Canmore is not included.
All meals, snacks and drinks are supplied from lunch on the first day to lunch on the last. Meals are prepared by our in-house chef from fresh, nutritious ingredients and then dehydrated to make them suitable for backcountry travel. 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 $16/day surcharge. For a diet requiring any 2 restrictions a $25/day surcharge will apply. For any 3 restrictions, a $30/day surcharge will apply. Vegetarian meals will not be surcharged. 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.
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)
Equipment and Clothing
Both huts are well equipped so we’ll be able to travel with a light pack.
You will need to bring your own clothing, alpine touring skis, boots, poles, climbing skins and daypack. If you have your own personal Avalanche Safety equipment, it is great to bring this along as well as some beacons have different features which we can explain during the Avalanche review session.
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 you are 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 whilst 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 an advanced-intermediate telemark skier with some backcountry experience. This system is more difficult and less forgiving than the other.
Splitboards can be used in this program.
Both types of gear can be rented in Canmore or Calgary prior to the course.
You need to bring:
- Skis / Splitboard 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’
- Ski Poles (Splitboarders as well)
- Ski Boots
- Ski Helmet (required)
- Ski Crampons
- Avalanche Transceiver – digital transceiver with triple antennae*
- Collapsible Avalanche Probe*
- Avalanche Shovel (lightweight collapsible metal shovel designed for companion rescue)*
- Daypack, 45-50L*
- Sunglasses and ski goggles
- Water bottle (at least 1-litre capacity) a Thermos for Hot Drinks is optional
- Sunblock and lip cream
- Pocket Knife
- Sleeping Bag, We recommend a small ‘3-season’ bag as the huts will be warm.
- Headlamp with fresh batteries
- Small Blister and Personal First-Aid Kit (‘moleskin’, plasters and Tylenol is enough)
- Small repair kit for bindings, skis or splitboard (this may include straps, nuts, bolts, small leatherman)
- Sit Harness with Adjustable Leg Loops available for rent as well from Yamnuska *
- Crevasse rescue gear consisting of x2 locking carabiners, x2 nonlocking carabiners, x2 5m 7mm prussik cords and a belay tube. These items are available for rent as well from Yamnuska *
- Personal toiletries including hand sanitizer
- Ear Plugs (optional)
*Rentals Available for these Items
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.
We suggest layers of light, easily carried clothing that allows for fast and easy adjustment to best suit fast changing temperature conditions. Cotton clothing is not appropriate as it causes rapid heat loss when wet. Feel free to call us if you have any questions about what to bring.
- Long underwear top and bottoms (lightweight synthetic or wool)
- Ski touring or mountaineering pants
- Warm shirt (synthetic or wool)
- Medium weight fleece sweater.
- Light insulated jacket or vest
- Waterproof jacket with hood (Gore-Tex or nylon)
- Socks (wool outer & polypro liner), several sets.
- Wool or fleece hat that covers your ears.
- Waterproof ski mountaineering gloves or mitts.
- Neck tube
Skis, Boots, Skins and Poles can be rented from:
- Canmore: Gear Up – (403 678-1636)
- Calgary: M.E.C. – 830-10 Ave. S.W. Calgary (Tel: 403 363-0122)
We recommend reserving your gear in advance.
*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 book as early as practical to avoid disappointment. We require a 35% deposit at the time of booking. The final payment is due eight weeks before the start of the program.
We ask that you 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.
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.
$2195 CDN includes guiding, helicopter access flights, meals, and group safety equipment (communication device, rescue kit, first aid supplies, GPS) GST is extra.
Trip Cancellation Insurance is available through the Simpson Group.
Is it for you?
Guests on this ski expedition program should be advanced backcountry skiers or splitboarders in all conditions. There are a variety of descents on this trip that require skiing blue/black type runs. Participants don’t need to be experts, however, you must be able to safely descend these slopes. Previous ski mountaineering experience on a course such as an Intro to Ski Mountaineering 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).
Understanding the prerequisites should help with your training throughout the winter. Winter ski tours and walks with a 45-50lb pack are recommended as the best training, however other activities such as cross country skiing and hiking can also be good training. Please read the itinerary and difficulty sections and be both physically and mentally prepared for the trip. If you are uncertain about your experience level, please call us.
Please don’t hesitate to CONTACT US if you need to know more about this program!