The Lyells are a majestical place that contain 5 beautiful peaks over 11’000ft all of which are a short skiing distance from the hut. The hut is the highest elevation ski touring hut in Canada, which is perched on a rock outcrop at 2860m surrounded by glaciers on all sides, making it possible to climb & ski all 5 peaks in a day.
At 3,612m (11,851 ft) Mt Forbes is the 5th highest peak in Alberta and is the highest peak in Banff National Park. With its remote position on the continental divide its normally difficult to access Mt Forbes, but the Mons hut provides an excellent base location and is a short day’s ski away from the Lyells.
Day 1: (Evening) We will meet at our office in Canmore at 6:30pm. 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 15 minute 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 to the Mons hut which finishes with an excellent ski run right to the door of the hut.
Day 5: Summit Day! With an alpine start we’ll have a short ski up the Mons glacier, before caching our skis and boot packing up the Rosita Couloir and over to the SW of Mt Forbes. On returning to our skis 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 6:30pm 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
Maximum guide to guest ratio is 1:4. 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. Maximum group size is 8.
Participants are responsible for their own transport to Canmore which is a 1 hour (100km) drive west from Calgary.
To reach Golden participants may use personal vehicles or we will arrange a minibus at no extra cost to you.
You should plan to arrive in Canmore the day before the course (see “accommodation” below”)
Accommodation and Meals
During the trip we will stay at privately owned Mountain Huts. 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.
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.
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, skis, poles, climbing skins, avalanche equipment, daypack sleeping bag. We have many of these items available to rent and if not can pre-arrange them for you. We supply group safety items (ropes, harnesses, crevasse rescue gear etc).
You will be able to leave excess gear in Canmore whilst on the course.
The equipment and clothing you bring will have a big impact upon the quality of your experience. Please be sure to bring all 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 when 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 of 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.
Snowboards can be used on this program however, due to the number of flat areas you are better off on skis. If ‘boarding’ you need to be an advanced backcountry boarder and you need to be on a splitboard.
Skis, boots, poles, and boards can be rented in Calgary and Canmore prior to the trip.
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 Crampons
- Avalanche Transceiver – digital transceiver with a triple antennae*
- Collapsible Avalanche Probe*
- Avalanche Shovel (lightweight collapsible metal shovel designed for companion rescue)*
- Daypack, 35-45L*
- Sunglasses and ski goggles
- Water bottle (at least 1 litre capacity) a Thermos for Hot Drinks is optional
- Sun block and lip cream
- 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)
- Personal Toilet Items (keep to a bare minimum)
- Ear Plugs (optional)
*Rentals Available for these Items
Yamnuska supplies but feel free to bring anyway:
- Sit Harness with Adjustable Leg Loops
- Crevasse rescue gear
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 240 cm in length.
- Shovel: A metal blade shovel is required.
We suggest layers of light, easily carried clothing that allow 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 (light weight 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. 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 travelers 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.
$2295 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 the Intro to Ski Mountaineering or the Wapta Traverse is required.
Understanding the prerequisites should help with your training throughout the winter. Winter ski tours and walks with a 45-50lb pack is 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!