Top three reasons to ice climb in the Canadian Rockies
Experience stunning views of Alberta and BC’s backcountry
Different locations accommodate both newcomers and seasoned ice climbers
Improve your technique in some of the greatest climbing areas Canada has to offer
With massive frozen waterfalls, easily accessible canyons, and some of the best ice and mixed climbing lines in the world, the Rockies are known as the “ice climbing capital of Canada” for a reason. During the Rockies’ 50 years of ice climbing dominance, some of the world’s most accomplished climbers were inspired to set up hundreds of engaging routes for the rest of us to enjoy. The climbing variety is outstanding—from beginner-friendly crags like Bear Spirit (Grade III) and Bow Valley (Grade II-IV) to the hardcore multi-pitch ascents of the majestic Cascade Waterfall (Grade III), no one gets left out in the Rockies. And with breathtaking backcountry vistas guaranteed to inspire you to climb higher, the Canadian Rockies are the perfect place to give ice climbing a go!
December through April
Calgary, AB, is 1.5 hours away from the Canadian Rockies
Beginner to advanced
Choose how you spend your days
Private Ice Climbing Adventure
Feel a rush of adrenaline while ice climbing in the spectacular Canadian Rockies in Alberta and British Columbia, including Banff and Lake Louise areas. Have your private guide show you all the intricacies of ice climbing, develop new skills, conquer some epic climbs and revel in some of the best ice there is to be found in Canada.
Private Multi-Pitch Ice Climbing Adventure
Conquer some of the most amazing multi-pitch routes that the mighty Canadian Rockies deliver to its most passionate ice climbers. Let your guides take you to and navigate you on the many frozen structures the Rockies offer. Spend your day in the classic multi-pitch route areas such as the Bow Valley, Kananaskis and Ghost River and take your ice cragging skills to an even higher level.
Group Intro to Ice Climbing
Learn about the techniques and the thrills of ice climbing with a seasoned local guide! This beginner-friendly adventure in the Canadian Rockies is the perfect introduction to the world of ice climbing, with comprehensive instruction and a safety-oriented approach. Head to some of the Canadian Rockies’ greatest ice climbing venues, such as King’s Creek, Bear Spirit, Johnston Canyon and Haffner Creek, for a full day of ice climbing and exploring Canada’s winter wilderness!
Meet your guide
Alpine Air Adventures
We were on a trip guided by Maarten. He was an excellent guide who not only taught us ice climbing, he also shared all kinds of mountaineering knowledge with us and was happy to answer all of our questions. He provided a high adventure experience while never compromising safety. A true pro and really nice guy. The overall operation was extremely professional and the condition and quality of the climbing gear were top-notch!
I’ve been sport rock, trad rock, ice climbing, crevasse coursing, and avalanche training through jeff for many years now. His knowledge of the Rockies is incredible and he brings a really light and fun atmosphere to a training environment every single time we are out. Jeff’s physical abilities and his “let’s do it” approach give me huge peace of mind. There is never anyone else I would want to contact first to head out on a mountain adventure with.
Things to know
Covid measures in the Canadian Rockies
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, their guides, and the communities they’re traveling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures in the Canadian Rockies, Alberta and British Columbia, please refer to the COVID-19 travel guidelines for Alberta and COVID-19 travel guidelines for British Columbia.
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 you get on the private adventures and the multi-pitch ice climbing adventure:
- An experienced, local mountain guide with extensive knowledge of the area
- A full day of ice climbing instruction and practice
- All group technical gear
- All technical ice climbing gear (helmet, harness, boots, crampons, ice axes) for Intro to Ice Climbing
What’s not included:
- Personal climbing gear (can be rented from your guiding service)
- Meals and snacks
Note: Some guide expenses may be charged for the private adventures and the Multi-Pitch Adventure, such as mileage, depending on location and objective.
How fit do I need to be?
If you can climb a ladder, you’re good to go. Being in good shape is always a plus but far from necessary. Ice climbing is all about using good movement technique rather than muscling up ice formations using brute strength. To ensure you have a fun day, your guide will choose routes that best suit your skill and fitness level.
What if I’ve never climbed before?
The Canadian Rockies have plenty of options for beginner ice climbers. Whether you’ve never ice climbed before or are transitioning from rock to ice climbing, your guide will customize the day to suit your skill level and objectives. With a guide by your side, you’ll learn something new, stay safe on the ice formations, and most importantly, have fun!
For intermediate to advanced climbers, the Canadian Rockies have loads of routes to spend the day on. Your guide will discuss your objectives and customize the day to your goals. Let your guide plan the day so you can focus on developing your skills while ice climbing the classic routes or best hidden gems the area has to offer.
What about required equipment?
Technical climbing equipment will be provided by your guiding service for Introduction to ice climbing. Personal climbing equipment can be rented from your guiding service. If you have your own gear, feel free to bring it. You’ll need:
- Climbing harness
- Mountaineering boots
- 2 technical ice climbing tools
- Crampons (12 point, must fit your boots)
- Ice ax
Here’s a list of the equipment we suggest you bring:
- Backpack large enough to carry all the items listed (around a 40-55L bag)
- Warm hat/toque
- Neck tube/balaclava
- Waterproof mountaineering gloves or wool/fleece mitts/gloves
- Waterproof over mitts (two pairs)
- Lightweight winter ice climbing gloves (tight fit)
- Outer waterproof jacket with hood
- Heavyweight fleece or insulated down jacket with hood
- Medium-weight fleece sweater
- Wool or fleece long sleeve shirt
- Shoeller and/or Gore-tex pants
- Waterproof knee-length gaiters (that will fit over large boots)
- Polypro, wool, capilene or fleece long top and bottom underwear
- Wool/blend socks
- 1-liter water bottle
- Thermos with a warm beverage
- Food you can eat on-the-go
- Toiletries (sunscreen, lip balm, toilet paper, etc.)
- Headlamp with fresh batteries
- Pocket knife
- Blister kit
- Trekking or ski poles
- Camera — optional
Dress comfortably and for the weather in clothes you can move in. We suggest bringing clothing appropriate for the season. Layers are best and don’t wear jeans.
Group sizes and age requirements
Group sizes and prices:
- For Intro to Ice Climbing, the group size is usually between 1–8 people with one guide, with a minimum of 4 participants per tour. Cost is per person and it doesn’t decrease as the group grows.
- For the Private Ice Climbing Adventure, the usual guest-to-guide ratio is 6:1.
- For the Multi-Pitch Ice Climbing Adventure, the max. guest-to-guide ratio is 2:1.
- Costs per person decrease as the group grows for the private adventures, so it’s the perfect opportunity to climb with friends and family.
Ice climbing days in the Canadian Rockies can be arranged for bigger groups. Contact us prior to booking.
Min. age requirements:
- If you are older than 18, you’re good to go.
- Minors as young as 14 may be permitted to climb on a case-by-case basis, but must be in the presence of a parent or legal guardian.
- Children and minors younger than 14 aren’t allowed to participate in this tour.
If your group has climbers under the age of 18, contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.
Getting there and meeting location
To get to the Canadian Rockies, most people fly into Calgary International Airport 1.5 hours away. From there, you can rent a car or take a bus.
Once you and your guide agree on the details of your itinerary, your guide will suggest the best place to meet, whether that’s at the guide shop or a predetermined location. The guide will choose the appropriate terrain dependent on conditions and the ability of the group.