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Canadian Rockies | Canada

Alpine Climbing Skills Week in the Canadian Rockies

57hours Icon season

Season

June to September

57hours Icon nearest-city

Nearest city

Calgary, AB, is just over 1.5 hours away from Banff and 4 hours away from Columbia Icefields

57hours Icon duration

Duration

6 days

57hours Icon skill-level

Skill level

Beginner to advanced

Become a confident alpinist in the amazing Banff National Park

The Canadian Rocky Mountains of Banff offer everything from stunning glacial lakes to snowy mountain tops with picture-perfect villages along the way. Its spectacular geography makes for amazing summits and jaw-dropping panoramas, while its glaciation makes for fine snow and ice climbing. Alpine climbing is the highlight of the oldest Canadian National Park, so the options for aspiring mountaineers are endless! This adventure will take you to Mt. Athabasca — one of the most accessible and enjoyable peaks in the Canadian Rockies, settled on the ridge between the Athabasca and Saskatchewan Glaciers, reaching a phenomenal 3,491m (11,453 ft)!

Book This Adventure

Alpine Climbing Skills Week in the Canadian Rockies

$1075 per person · 6 days

Join your guide on this six-day adventure, full of climbing in and around Banff, Lake Louise and the Columbia Icefields! The area offers so many classic Rockies high points, with a variety of routes to choose from! This week of learning is designed to upgrade your basic hiking and scrambling skills to solid alpinist skills, which will allow you to explore further and higher than you’ve ever imagined! You will spend a lot of time on rock, snow and ice terrain acquiring new climbing techniques and skills important for alpine climbing. This will all be done in a safe and organized manner with an experienced guide by your side!

Itinerary

Day One: Arrival

After landing in Calgary, make your way to Columbia Icefields and set off on your week-long adventure in the Banff area. Spend the day learning about snow and ice climbing and crevasse rescue skills from your AMGA-certified guide with years of experience in the field.

Day Two: Summiting Mt. Athabasca

Try to summit the famous Mt. Athabasca, suitable for both beginner and experienced alpinists. There are several good routes on the mountain, and all of them involve early alpine starts from the Icefields Parkway with a total elevation gain of 1500m.

Day Three, Four and Five: Practicing your skills in Lake Louise

Head to Lake Louise for a comprehensive school of rock and alpine climbing. Spend your next three days practicing single-pitch and alpine rock climbing in different, yet stunning locations only Canadian Rockies offer. All the skills taught will be adapted to the group’s ability. Enjoy the views over some of the most adventurous mountain routes in a picture-postcard setting.

Day Six: Departure

After six days of lessons and practice, prepare for departure, and start planning your next adventure when you will explore further and higher than you have ever imagined!

Things you need to know

Covid measures in Banff National Park

57hours is committed to providing safe outdoor adventure experiences. We require all guides using our platform to have a COVID-19 safety plan and to make the details of that plan accessible to travelers. In most cases, group sizes will be reduced, guides will avoid overcrowded locations, and other safety measures will be met depending on the location and activity.

We also expect clients to respect local regulations and take measures to protect themselves, guides and the communities they’re travelling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures in the Banff area, please refer to the official Alberta website.

Please contact us if you have any questions or require further information. We are happy to provide you with the most up-to-date information!

What’s included?

What you get in this adventure:

  • Experienced ACMG/IFMGA certified local rock-climbing guides with extensive knowledge of the area
  • Six days of alpine rock climbing
  • Group technical gear

What’s not included:

  • Mountaineering boots
  • Personal climbing equipment
  • Food
  • Transportation
  • Accommodation

What if I’ve never alpine climbed before?

If you’ve never alpine climbed before, we recommend taking an introduction to climbing course or spending a day with a guide learning the basics prior to booking this adventure. Alpine climbing is not for first-time rock climbers, but if you have some experience in rock climbing, there are routes that you can successfully complete with the help of a guide. This course is meant to develop existing skills that will take your climbing to the next level. You will spend time on rock, snow and ice terrain to round out the skill set with guides that have years and years of mountain experience to share with you.

Some of the skills you will learn over the course of the week are:

  • Pre-trip planning
  • Route selection
  • Navigation
  • Leadership
  • Crevasse rescue
  • Glacier travel
  • Snow and Ice:
    • Anchors – V-threads, ice screws, T-slots, snow pickets
    • Rappelling on snow, ice and rock including multi-pitch rappelling
    • Using crampons and ice axe
  • Rock:
    • Anchors – using bolts and traditional gear
    • Lead climbing – on bolts and traditional gear
    • Multi-pitch climbing skills, with climbing routes ranging from 5.5-5.10 depending on skill level
    • Moving on alpine rock terrain

How fit do I need to be?

This week of alpine climbing adventure is ideal for beginner to experienced alpine climbers. You will need a good level of fitness as you will be moving for a minimum of three hours on the rocks plus some additional hiking. Even though rock climbing is all about using good movement technique rather than muscling up a cliff using brute strength, a week in the alpine environment will test you. Be prepared for full days of strenuous climbing in cold temperatures and changeable weather conditions.

What do I need to bring?

Here’s a list of the equipment you need to bring:

  • Fleece or wool hat
  • Neck gaiter
  • Face mask
  • Lightweight and midweight gloves
  • Hardshell jacket with hood (Gore-Tex or equivalent)
  • Lightweight wind shell
  • Down or synthetic jacket with hood
  • Long-sleeved base layer
  • Long base layer pants (tights work well in the summer)
  • Hardshell pants
  • Softshell pants (wind-proof or wind-resistant)
  • Leg gaiters (ankle to mid calf height works best in summer)
  • Liner socks and wool socks
  • Underwear
  • Mountaineering boots that work with crampons (can be rented)
  • Rock shoes (can be rented)
  • Daypack large enough to carry all the items listed (around 40L)
  • Sunglasses or a visor hat
  • Headlamp
  • Ice axe (can be rented)
  • Crampons (can be rented)
  • Water bottle or hydration pack
  • Food you can eat on-the-go
  • Bowl, mug, and spork
  • Toiletries (sunscreen, hand sanitizer, blister kit, toilet paper, etc.)
  • Pee bottle — optional
  • Camera — optional

Technical gear list

All technical climbing equipment will be provided by your guiding service. However, if you have your own gear, feel free to bring it. You’ll need:

  • Helmet
  • Harness with a locking carabiner, belay device and chalk bag
  • Ropes
  • Climbing hardware (quickdraws, cam devices, stoppers, etc.)

Can I rent equipment?

All mandatory gear can be rented if you don’t have your own. You can rent:

  • Ice axe and crampons from Gear Up;
  • Mountaineering boots and rock shoes from Gear Up.

All rentals can be found in Canmore. If you need to rent gear, let us know and we can help make arrangements.

Why should I book with 57hours?

With us, it’s all play and no work for you! 57hours is an open platform that connects you with trained and certified outdoor adventure professionals all over the world. Using our tech-savvy, we make it super easy to find and book adventures worth tackling, with guides worth booking, all gathered from the first-hand experiences of the locals who adventure in these amazing locations.

What about group sizes and pricing?

For this adventure, the max client to guide ratio is 6:1, pricing is per person and the tours are not private. The ratio during the trip will be 3:1 during the Athabasca submitting, 2:1 on alpine rock routes and 6:1 for instructional days.

A 20% deposit to secure your place is due upon booking. The balance of payment is due one month prior to the departure date.

Climbing days can be arranged for larger groups. Contact us to make arrangements.

What is the minimum age requirement?

  • Everybody over the age of 18 is welcome to book this climbing adventure.
  • If you plan to climb with anyone under the age of 18, please contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.

What about bad weather?

As the saying goes, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad preparation.” You can expect your guides to be fully prepared for anything. Inclement weather can always get in the way of climbing, but your guide will know the best spots to move to if the weather takes a turn.

On the rare occasion of truly bad weather, your guide will present you with suitable alternatives. The most common practice is to move to a nearby location if it exists, or to reschedule your climbing to a more favorable day.

If climbing is not possible on your scheduled day and no options presented are viable, you will be issued a full refund.

Do I need an insurance policy?

We highly recommended that you cover all your bases with both emergency medical and travel insurance. With medical insurance, if you have an accident or medical emergency on or off the mountain, you’ll avoid paying out of pocket for costly expenses. This covers everything from hospital treatments to emergency air transportation and more.

As we’ve recently seen, travel plans can be abruptly halted, so it’s a good idea to purchase travel insurance that covers cancelled flights, natural disasters and other scenarios that may interrupt your travel plans. For peace of mind, we suggest you consider both options of insurance.

If you need assistance selecting the right insurance for your group, let us know and we will be happy to help!

Cancellation policy

With 57hours, you benefit from both our own cancellation policy as well as that of the individual guiding service that delivers your adventure. All policies regarding cancellation will be clearly laid out by your guide after booking your adventure, but rest assured that our own cancellation policy will work on top of what is provided by your guide.

For this adventure, 57hours offers a Moderate Cancellation Policy, which states:
If Client cancels the Booking anytime prior to thirty (30) calendar days in advance of the trip contemplated by the booking, Client is entitled to a full refund. For cancellations fourteen (14) to twenty nine (29) calendar days in advance, Client is entitled to a refund in the amount of fifty percent (50%) of the total amount paid when Booking. For cancellations zero (0) to thirteen (13) days in advance, the Client is not entitled to any refund.

For more information on terms and conditions, please visit our Terms of Service page.

Getting there and meeting location

To get to Banff National Park, most people fly into Calgary International Airport. Once you get to Calgary, you can rent a car or take a shuttle service. It takes about 1.5 hours to reach Banff, and just over 4 hours to reach Columbia Icefields.

Once you and your guide agree on the details of your itinerary, your guide will suggest the best place to meet at Columbia Icefields, where the course typically begins. From there you will head to your tour. The guide will choose the appropriate terrain dependent on conditions and the ability of the group.

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