This 1-month Canadian Rockies mountaineering course focuses on the skills required of the summer mountaineer.
This high-end Canadian Rockies mountaineering course focuses on climbing skills required of the summer mountaineer: climbing alpine rock, travel on snow and ice, glacier travel, crevasse rescue, technical rock climbing, mountain living, navigation, and route finding. These skills are presented in a logical progression from basic safety protocols and technical gear handling to intermediate and advanced techniques that are constantly being reviewed and updated by our professional guides.
Many of our summer mountaineering training program students go on to pursue a career in the outdoor recreation industry or use our program as a springboard to advance their technical skills and improve their overall knowledge and fitness. With a strong focus on the fundamentals of outdoor leadership, this is a fantastic program for anyone wishing to feel confident and secure in almost any terrain and conditions that can be found in the summer mountain environment.
1-Month Canadian Rockies Mountaineering Course: Itinerary
Day 1: Welcome, introductions, course agenda, and goals. Preparation for the first trip to Skaha Bluffs in Penticton.
This is a major part of the Semester. We will be working on all aspects of rock climbing over the next 8 days. We will then revisit rock work on the alpine rock section and the mountaineering segment to summit peaks in the Bugaboos.
Days 2 – 9: Rock Skills in Skaha Bluffs, Penticton
The rock climbs in the Skaha Bluffs area provide a large variety of difficulties and styles which is ideal for the progression of this section. We will visit different crags each day to learn the skills of rock climbing from the ground up. In tandem with rock performance training and movement skills, will be comprehensive and detailed instruction on safety and belay systems including: ‘trad’ gear placements (use of nuts, camming devices, etc), anchor building, various belay systems, lead skills (sport and ‘trad’), self-rescue and companion rescue and multi-pitch systems.
Days 10 – 11: Two days off in Canmore
A well-earned rest and the chance to catch up on some personal maintenance.
Days 12 – 14: Alpine Rock and Multi-Pitch Climb in Canmore
The Bow Valley is the perfect place to move our rock skills to a multi-pitch climb on the big limestone walls that enclose the area. Climbing with instructors in small teams (1:2) you will be able to apply your new skills to long climbs which demand far more efficiency and better route finding judgment. Additionally, we will work on techniques for managing alpine rock situations. This will cover movement on class 3 and 4 terrain, rope use as well as belaying and protecting easy but exposed terrain.
Days 15 – 16: Two days off in Canmore
Alpine Mountaineering on Rock, Snow, and Ice
The final two parts of the program are dedicated to learning the skills associated with climbing glaciated peaks. You will learn how to travel safely on glaciers plus how to rescue yourself or your partner from a potential crevasse fall. You will learn how to climb safely on rock, snow, and ice in two world-famous climbing areas: the Columbia Icefields and the Bugaboos.
Days 17- 22: General Mountaineering Skills and Alpine Ice at the Columbia Icefields
The 11,000-foot peaks of the Columbia Icefields rise abruptly next to the Banff-Jasper Parkway. Heavy glaciation means alpine ice climbing training opportunities are a short walk from camp. We will move from general mountaineering skills: footwork on snow and ice, ice axe use, self-arrest, understanding glacier morphology, rope use for glacier travel to steeper alpine ice climbing techniques: leading steeper multi-pitch alpine ice and snow, technical descents on snow and ice and more advanced crevasse rescue.
The icy peak of Athabasca is a great classroom and its steeper long routes are great finales for this section.
Days 23 – 24: Two days off in Canmore
Days 25 – 29: General Mountaineering Skills and Alpine Rock in the Bugaboos
The ‘Bugs’ are one of North America’s most famous climbing areas. This world-renowned climbers’ paradise with its awesome granite spires, beautiful glaciers, and lush, green valleys attract alpinists from around the world. We can’t imagine a better place in which to apply your new skills. Additionally, we will continue to build on more advanced skills to be successful on higher-end mountaineering and alpine rock routes.
From our base at Applebee Campground, we can easily reach the perfect training areas to be found on the Bugaboo Glacier and in the Crescent Spires each day. We will be working on general snow and glacier techniques as we approach rock spires where we will be applying our rock climbing skills to alpine situations. Alpine rock is an important facet of mountaineering that requires an ability to quickly choose the appropriate technique for every situation so as to maximize both safety and speed. Here we introduce peer short roping, natural belays, and other important mountaineering techniques.
Later in the week the West Ridge of Pigeon Spire, one of the most enjoyable intermediate alpine rock routes in the world, will be our objective. With a low guide to student ratio (1:2), many of the classic longer routes in the area are options.
Day 30: The final debrief day in Canmore culminating in a graduation dinner.