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 comprehensive mountain training week 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!
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.
During your first three days you will focus on learning. There will also be an opportunity to climb 1-2 peaks, one being the famous Mt. Athabasca and another smaller peak such as A2 or Hilda peak, depending on the group dynamics and previous experience. Mt. Athabasca is 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.
Head to Lake Louise for a comprehensive school of rock climbing skills, sport and traditional 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.
Spend your fifth day on one of the many Banff multi-pitch classics to learn multi-pitch efficiencies and technical decent (multi-pitch rappelling). There will be plenty of opportunities to do mock leads and practice many of the skills for your future climbing adventures!
Today’s itinerary will be completely up to you —
tailor the day according to your wishes and focus on perfecting your skills! 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!
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
- Camping gear
Accommodation options include:
- Ice fields Campground
- Hilda Hostel
- Glacier View Lodge
- Lake Louise Alpine Center
No alpine climbing experience is necessary to join this course. However, you need to be in excellent aerobic condition and have previous experience with either mountaineering or scrambling. This means you have ascended lower-angle non-technical climbs where you can walk up the majority of a mountaineering objective.
Some of the skills you will learn are:
- Pre-trip planning, route selection and navigation
- Glacier travel
- Crevasse rescue
- Snow and Basic Ice Climbing:
- 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 Climbing:
- 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
The pursuit of alpine climbing requires more skills than mountaineering, has a larger psychological component, and takes longer to master. The standard routes, in good condition, are suitable for beginner mountaineers. You need to be in excellent aerobic condition and have previous experience with advanced hiking or mountaineering.
Even though alpine climbing is all about using good movement techniques and tools, 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.
Be honest with yourself about your experience and fitness. You will be vetted by the guide after booking to secure the quality of the course.
The aim of alpinism is to be self-sufficient, meaning you carry everything yourself, without porters, and to travel fast and light. Alpine climbing is essentially an endurance event so the best way to prepare is to work on your cardio and strength levels. You’ll use your major leg muscles and your core muscles, so try to increase endurance in those same muscle groups. Work on your overall endurance by uphill/downhill hiking, scrambling and trail running under load. Balance and flexibility training will also help you make the most of the course.
Up to two weeks prior to the course, begin to gradually wake up earlier; it is not uncommon to wake up at 2-3 am for a summit.
If you want to get a hang of outdoor rock climbing prior to this course, join a basic Intro to Outdoor Rock Climbing course. Avalanche hazards may also be a consideration at any time of the year. Therefore, an AST (Avalanche Skills Training) course is beneficial and recommended, but not a necessity.
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
- 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
- Ice axe (can be rented)
- Harness (can be rented)
- 12-point crampons (can be rented)
- 3 locking caribiners, 2 non locking caribiners
- 2x5m 6mm prussic cord
- 1x 60 cm sewn sling
- Belay device
- Micro traction and or Tiblok optional
- 2x 13 cm ice screws
- Chalk bag
- Water bottle or hydration pack
- Food you can eat on-the-go
- Toiletries (sunscreen, hand sanitizer, blister kit, toilet paper, etc.)
- Pillow, light and small
- Sleeping bag (3 season,-7 deg c it can dip below freezing in summer)
- Car camping sleep pad for Columbia Icefields
- Tent for Columbia Icefields
- Stove and cooking pots utensils for car camping
- Pee bottle — optional
- Camera — optional
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:
- Harness with a locking carabiner, belay device and chalk bag
- Climbing hardware (quickdraws, cam devices, stoppers, etc.)
All mandatory gear can be rented if you don’t have your own. You can rent mountaineering boots and rock shoes from Gear Up.
All other technical equipment can be rented from AAA for $25.00 per day. Full kits include cord and biners.
All rentals can be found in Canmore. If you need to rent gear, let us know and we can help make arrangements.
Group sizes and deposit:
- 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 sumit, 2:1 on alpine rock routes and 6:1 for instructional days.
- It takes a minimum of 2 people for the skills week to run.
- All prices are in USD.
- If the trip should extend beyond the scheduled days the extra days will be charged out at the day rate for the specific trip. This may apply to trips with a higher commitment grade and or more remote trips.
Group dynamics: Not everyone travels at the same pace we will always travel relative to the pace of the slower group member. The guides reserve the right to make decisions on where the group will go and which route the group will climb.
Climbing days can be arranged for larger groups. Contact us to make arrangements.
- 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.
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.
On Day 1 the group will meet at the Columbia Icefields campground for 08:30 by the entrance kiosk. A final logistics email will be sent to you a few days before the tip start date to finalize any last-minute logistics.
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!