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Mountaineering programs in the Rocky Mountains for beginners

Learn the ropes of mountain climbing on these beginner-level mountaineering programs in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. These mountain climbing instruction courses in the Canadian Rockies provides a grounding in alpine mountaineering: climbing on snow, ice, rock & mixed terrain, glacier travel, crevasse rescue & navigation. Experience the thrills of your first summits, enjoy great company & be left ready to continue on your own or to join an advanced program or expeditions.  

The 3 day program is a low commitment beginner course which introduces you to the world of mountaineering and mountain climbing. From here you can decide if mountaineering is for you and take one of our longer courses.

In this comprehensive 3 day introduction to general mountaineering, you'll receive instruction on techniques for travelling on snow and ice, and an understanding of safe glacier travel and crevasse rescue. You will learn the current mountaineering practices as well as gain an understanding of gear and equipment fit and use. We then practice your newly acquired skills on a summit bid on a classic peak on the Columbia Icefields.  These include Mt. Athabasca, Boundary Peak, Mt Wilcox and A2 to name a few.

The 6 day program is Canada's premier beginner mountaineering instruction course.  For almost four decades this course has produced many dedicated mountaineers and has been the catalyst to life-long climbing friendships. Based out of the Bow Hut on the Banff National Park Wapta Icefields this comprehensive program is designed for hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts who want to get a solid grounding in the sport of mountaineering. The glacier and surrounding peaks will be your classroom for the duration of this course. During the day, build your skills and climb peaks. In the evening, share stories and lessons with your fellow mountaineers while relaxing in the comfortable Bow Hut.

$750.00 CAD
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Mountain Climbing and Mountaineering

May to September


Enthusiastic and extremely talented, your instructors hold climbing certification. Your safety and enjoyment are paramount to them. 

The course curriculum is constantly updated to reflect the most current mountaineering standards and practices. Your instructors are passionate mountaineers and educators who are certified by the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides.



The 3 day program is designed for people with no previous mountaineering experience but it might just ignite a life-long passion for mountaineering and the outdoors.

The 6 day program is also suitable for beginners but is more challenging. The peaks attempted on this course are of moderate difficulty and it is often appropriate to allow students the lead. You will need to be fit to a 'hiking' standard, as you will be traveling several kilometers of glacier each day, often having to break trail in soft snow. This Canadian Rockies mountaineering course meets the prerequisites of most high altitude expedition companies who require their participants to have a basic mountaineering course prior to being accepted for an expedition.



Requirements: Daypack, mountaineering boots (can be rented), park fees.

For the 6 day program you will also need a backpack and sleeping bag. These can also be rented.

A full packing list will be supplied upon booking.


Trips originate and end near Canmore, Alberta. Transportation to the starting point is not included on the 3 day program and a vehicle will be needed. Carpooling is an option. Transportation to the trailhead is included on the 6 day program.


Be prepared for all types of weather in these elevations in the Rocky Mountains.

Southern Rocky Mountains

Technical gear (ice axes, crampons, harnesses etc.) and other group safety items.


Rain gear, warm underclothes, warm jacket, hat, gloves, gaiters, running shoes.  A full clothing list will be supplied upon booking.  We suggest layers of light, easily carried clothing that allow for fast and easy adjustment to best suit fast changing temperature conditions. We discourage cotton clothing as it causes rapid heat loss when wet. 


Camera, day pack, water bottle, pocketknife, sunglasses, sunscreen, lip balm, head lamp.


On the 3 day program accommodations are not included but are available at local hotels, lodges and B&B's in Canmore.

On the 6 day program you stay in alpine huts operated by the Alpine Club of Canada. Sleeping areas are communal and facilities are basic. Bow Hut is equipped with indoor propane lighting and cooking facilities. The hut has a wood stove for heat. Outhouses are standard and large enough to offer privacy for personal washing. There are no showers or flush toilets.




Meals are not included on the 3 day program.

On the 6 day program all meals, snacks and drinks are supplied from lunch on Day 1 to lunch on Day 6. Mountain meals are made from nutritious, healthy ingredients and are cooked and dehydrated by the chef. For guests with dietary restrictions, your guides are able to modify the program food pack to meet your individual needs. 


3 day tour, available May - September
$750.00 / per person - CAD
Saturdays to Mondays starting May 18 and ending October 12, 2019.
6 day tour, available June - September
$1795.00 / per person - CAD
2019 dates: June 9-14, June 16-21, June 23-28, June 30-July 5, July 7-12, July 14-19, July 26-31, Aug 4-9, Aug 11-16, Aug 18-23, Aug 26-31, Sep 2-7, Sep 15-20, Sep 28-Oct 3.
Pricing does not include: 5.00% GST.

A 35% deposit is required to hold your reservation.

Balance of payment is due 60 days before trip commencement.
You have 24 hours from when you make your booking to change or cancel with no charge to you (provided your booking does not depart within 15 days). If cancelling your program up to 8 weeks before the program start, $105 will be withheld. Higher amounts are withheld if cancelling Semesters or Expeditions (details on request). Between 8 and 6 weeks before the program start, the deposit is forfeited. Cancellation less than 6 weeks before the program start and during the program results in loss of entire amount paid. We will gladly accept a substitute guest should you not be able to attend provided they meet the prerequisites for the program. Cancellations must be received in writing (letter, fax or email).

3 day tour, available May - September

Day 1

Meet at 9:00am for a course briefing (Icefields Campground Cook Shelter)
Issue mountaineering equipment and crampons. If you bring your own equipment we will help you size it properly.
Head to nearby training area
(Bring your climbing boots to the fitting session as well as any climbing gear you have so we can check it out)

Mountaineering knots and harness use.
Snow school (at field site nearby) includes: movement on snow, use of ice axe, self-arrest on snow, belaying on snow.

Day 2

Meet at 8:00am to discuss the day's objectives
Ice school and crevasse rescue.  Includes: glacier morphology, crampon technique, low angle ice climbing , ice screw placement, roping up for glaciers, crevasse rescue techniques, ice anchors.

Day 3

Peak Ascent Day

Typically a 3:00am meet to begin the ascent day of a suitable peak.
This is an exciting and challenging opportunity to put new-found skills into practice on a big mountain. There are several options for climbing the 3491m (11,454 Ft.) Mt. Athabasca. Other peaks include A2, Boundary Peak and Mt. Wilcox. All are good introductory mountaineering challenges.

Mount Athabasca: First Ascent: August 17th 1898, N. Collie, H. Wooley, 11,453 feet, 3491 meters "Athabasca" is a Cree word believed to mean "where there are reeds and grasses"

The peak you attempt will depend upon the mountain conditions, the weather and your level of fitness.

We only attempt Mt. Athabasca with those fit enough and when conditions/weather permit. Should conditions mean that no peak is suitable we will schedule an extra day of instruction.

Expect a long but rewarding day for your summit attempt. We usually start very early (well before dawn) meaning you will be exposed to the incredible beauty of a mountain sunrise. These climbs are not too technical but require many of the things mountaineers must have: stamina, fitness, route finding skills and good judgment.

6 day tour, available June - September

Day 1

We meet at the offic in Canmore at 8:30am for introductions, a review of course goals and itinerary and an equipment check. After packing up, it's an hour and a half drive north to Bow Lake where we commence the hike to Bow Hut, which is located at 2350m on a shoulder adjacent to the snout of the Bow Glacier. This will take us between 3 and 5 hours. We travel 7km and climb 400m.

Day 2

Days 2-5: The Bow Hut is our base for the week. Its proximity to the glacier and to several peaks makes it easy for us to get out on to suitable instruction terrain every day. It's a perfect area for instruction. We may spend nights in one of the other huts in the region. Peaks often climbed on the course include Mt. Olive (3110m.), Mt. St. Nicholas (2900m.), Mt. Gordon (3200m.), Mt. Thompson (3050m.) & Mt. Rhondda (3110m.)

Day 6

Final day. An opportunity to review techniques before we hike back down to Bow Lake and return to Canmore in the late afternoon.