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Mountaineering programs in the Rocky Mountains

| CA-YM301

Learn the ropes of mountain climbing on these beginner-level mountaineering programs


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.


  • Canadian Rocky Mountains
  • Mount Athabasca
  • Boundary Peak
  • Mount Wilcox
  • Mount Thompson
  • Mount Rhondda

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 traveling 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.

  • Personal Experience
  • Trusted Tour Operator
  • Local Guides
  • Small group
Availability May - October
Duration 3 / 6 days
Departs From Canmore, AB
Difficulty Moderate
Group maximum 6 people
Meet on Location Yes
Pick Up No
Region Alberta


  • Best Price Guarantee
  • International number: +1 778 348 1676

Availability (2024):

3 day tour: $995 CAD

  • May 11-13
  • May 18-20
  • June 8-10
  • June 22-24
  • June 29-July 1
  • July 13-15
  • July 27-29
  • August 10-12
  • August 24-26
  • August 31-September 2
  • September 14-16
  • September 28-30
  • October 12-14

6 day tour: $2495 CAD

  • June 2-7
  • June 9-14
  • June 16-21
  • June 30-July 5
  • July 7-12
  • July 21-26
  • July 28-August 2
  • August 4-9
  • August 11-16
  • August 18-23
  • August 25-30
  • September 3-8
  • September 8-13
  • September 15-20
  • September 22-27
  • October 8-13

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What's Included

Find out what is included and what to bring.


  • Technical gear (ice axes, crampons, harnesses etc.)
  • Other group safety items

Suggested Clothing

  • 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

What to bring

  • Mountaineering boots (required) *Rentals are available
  • Backpack and sleeping bag (required for 6 day tour) *Rentals are available
  • Park fees are required
  • Camera
  • Day pack
  • Water bottle
  • Pocket knife
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Head lamp
  • Daypack (required)
  • *A full packing list will be supplied upon booking

Contact us for more Information about this tour


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Find out more details about the tour and its highlights


Guide information: Enthusiastic and extremely talented, your instructors hold ca limbing 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 about 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.

glacier hiking in canada with a small group


Meet at 9:00 am 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 the 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.



Meet at 8:00 am 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.

practising climbing rope techniques in canada


Peak Ascent Day

Typically a 3:00 am 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 permitting. 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.

climbing mountains in canada


We meet at the office in Canmore at 8:30 am 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 2-5

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.)

mountain range landscape in canada


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

On the 3 day program accommodation for the weekend is not included in this program. The instructors and most climbers stay at the “Icefields Campground” which we highly recommend facilitating communication amongst the group.

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. 

Payment Details

Deposit and taxes
Pricing does not include: 5.00% GST.
A 35% deposit is required to hold your reservation.
Balance of payment is due 57 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 canceling your public or private program anytime between the time of booking and up to 57 days before the program start, you will receive a full refund less a $100.00 (plus tax) administration fee and less a 4% service fee.  The 4% service fee is calculated on the total amount being refunded for the canceled program. This includes the program fee, any program add-ons (such as gear rental) and taxes.

Cancellation less than 42 days before the program start and during the program results in a loss of the 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.

Between 56 days and 42 days before the program start, 60% of the program cost will be refunded.

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).