This is a fully comprehensive program recommended for participants who wish to acquire a full arsenal of mountaineering skills in order to be self-sufficient in all mountaineering mediums – snow, ice, rock and mixed terrain.
The course is broken up into 4 technical skills days and 2 challenging mountaineering days.
One of these is a technical snow and ice objective, while the other is a technical alpine rock mountaineering day.
Skills covered include:
- Glacier travel and crevasse rescue
- Movement on snow, ice and rock
- Anchor building
- Terrain belays
- Route finding
- Track setting
- Hazard mitigation
- Basic weather forecasting and conditions assessment
- Choosing an appropriate route
Participants will apply all of the skills learned throughout the week to safely ascend a snow and ice peak as well as an alpine rock or mixed climbing objective.
Guides will help coach and direct on all group decisions. The technical objectives include a snow and ice peak with a glacier approach as well as an alpine rock peak with short roped and multi-pitch sections.
We run this program either in the Canadian Rockies (based out of Lake Louise) and the Selkirk Mountains (based out of the Wheeler Hut in Rogers Pass) or in the Purcell Mountains based out of the Conrad Kain Hut in Bugaboo Provincial Park.
For the Coastal Mountain Range please go to Whistler Alpine Guides.
*The final itinerary will be provided depending on the area with best conditions at that time.
- 09:00am Morning meeting at TBD
- Review current weather and day plan, Q & A session, brief on the day’s agenda, equipment check
- Drive to local outdoor crevasse rescue practice area
- Topics covered include: Glacier formation, physiology, terminology and travel- (hand out), summer glacier travel kit, glacier travel rope handling & crevasse rescue technique, situational awareness, review hazards
- Meeting time and place will be advised at the end of Day 1
- Review current weather, review day plan, Q & A session, brief on the day’s agenda, safety discussion and equipment
- Drive and approach to course venue – could be Canmore area (Kananaskis or Rocky Mountains), Lake Louise area (Rocky Mountains), Icefields Parkway area (Rocky Mountains), Bugaboos area (Purcell Mountains) or Rogers Pass area (Selkirk Mountains) Local glaciers include – Athabasca, Lower Victoria, Crowfoot etc.
- Topics covered include: Our environment (leave no trace), wildlife, white-out plan discussion, safe glacier travel route finding and track setting, hazard mitigation
- 16:30- 17:30 Meeting:
- Weather and conditions forecasting & assessment, collecting and recording pertinent field weather and conditions from weather & conditions report websites
Day 3 – overnight on Icefields Parkway
- 8:00am Tim Hortons Canmore and if it is pre-arranged to meet your guide in Lake Louise then 9:00am at Laggans Bakery in Lake Louise Village
- Drive to venue – either Rampart Creek Hostel, Beauty Creek Hostel, Mosquito Creek Hostel or camping
- Topics covered include: Snow School – movement on snow, use of ice axes, chopping steps, self-arrest, snow and ice mountaineering anchors, crevasse rescue, mountaineering rope handling, body and terrain belays in snow & ice terrain.
- Day Debrief
- 16:30-17:30 Evening Meeting at hut/hostel: Discuss next day objectives, weather and conditions,
- Assignment: Next day’s route and trip plan
- 05:00am Morning meeting TBD (this portion of the course is often camping or hostel based)
- Participant homework evaluated, weather and conditions discussion, ascent logistics discussion.
- Alpine Snow and Ice objective: Participants will apply all of the skills learned to date in order to safely ascend a challenging mountaineering snow and ice objective. Guides provide coaching and direction while helping participants to make independent group decisions. The objective will involve mainly snow and ice with a glacier approach. Weather and snow conditions will be the deciding factor on where we go and if we are able to summit
- Day debrief
- End of day
- 09:00am Morning meeting
- Head to field venue
- Topics covered include: Introduction and overview of Alpine rock anchors, terrain anchors and gear placement, basic short roping, use of terrain belays and body belays in alpine rock terrain, how to manage alpine ridges, alpine rock climbing technique
- Day Debrief
- Weather and Trip planning homework. Choose next day’s objective according to ability, experience, weather and conditions outlook. Route and time plan.
- Assignment: Next day’s route and trip plan
- Meeting time and place of this day will be advised at the end of Day 5. Participant homework evaluated, weather and conditions discussion, ascent logistics discussion.
- Alpine rock or mixed climbing objective: Participants will apply the learned skills to safely ascend a challenging alpine rock or mixed climbing objective. Guides will help coach and direct on all group decisions. Weather and conditions will be the deciding factor on where we go.
- Return any rental equipment
- Day debrief
- Course debrief
- Student Assessments and recommendations
- Next Steps
- Course closure
*During the summer months in the Canadian Rockies weather conditions are constantly changing. Be prepared for both hot or cold days and even rain. There are several rain protected climbing venues we endeavour to utilise but it is essential that you pack enough clothing to be prepared for any weather conditions. So please dress according to the forecast for the course days and pack clothes for varied conditions.
We recommend the following:
- Head lamp with extra batteries
- Soft shell type climbing pants
- Warm top and bottom underlayers and socks
- Synthetic t-shirt
- Mid layer fleece
- Weatherproof shell jacket
- Down or synthetic insulated “puffy” jacket
- Warm hat
- Warm mountain or ice climbing gloves
- Thinner warmer weather gloves
- Sunglasses and sunscreen
- Daypack 35-45 L
- Earplugs for hut/hostel
- Toiletries including toilet paper
- We recommend that you bring a hiking pole
For your Introductory Mountaineering Course, we provide the following essential alpine mountaineering equipment.
If you already own some or all of this equipment we highly recommend that you use it as it is best to be familiar with your own equipment. Please let us know when you register.
The following mountaineering equipment is included:
- Mountaineering boots
- Mountaineering Axe
- 2 x 60m single ropes
- Belay device
- Ice screws
- Snow Picket
- 4 locking carabiners
- 6 non-locking carabiners
- 2 x 5m x 7mm prussic
- 1 x 1.5 x 7mm prussic
- 2 x 120cm slings
- 6 trad draws (1 x 60cm sling + 2 non-locking carabiners = 1 trad draw)
Your guide/instructor will also bring along:
- First aid kit with splint
- Cell phone / satellite phone
- Guide’s tarp
- Programmable Radio
- Lesson 1 Glacier formation, physiology, terminology and travel- hand out
- Lesson 2 Introduction to summer Glacier Kit
- Lesson 3 Knots The Münter hitch, clove hitch and figure eight on a bite
- Lesson 4: Rappelling with safety backup prussic
- Lesson 5: Ascending the rope with 2 prussics
- Lesson 6: Diverse ratchets (prussic. Garda, Reverso, Plaquette, Ropeman, T-bloc)
- Lesson 8: Ascend the rope with preferred ratchet, reverse and rappel.
- Lesson 9 Situational Awareness, review hazards.
- Lesson 10 Dividing the rope – tying into the rope/triple action carabiner, stowing extra rope.
- Lesson 11 The prussic – tying in, daisy chaining and deploying.
- Lesson 12 Arresting the fall, strategies for holding the victim while building an anchor – testing the fall arrest.
- Lesson 13 Building an anchor – which team member builds an anchor strategies, summer glacier anchor types – ice screw anchor and ice axe t-slot anchor
- Lesson 14 Transferring the load and backing up the anchor – dealing with the rescue rope.
- Lesson 15 Surface rope team members approach the anchor, approaching the lip. Above firnline: padding the lip, probing technique and securing the lip pad.
- Lesson 16 Summer glacier direct haul technique as well as Canadian drop loop system demo – measuring, dropping and clipping the drop loop.
- Lesson 17 Incorporating a ratchet – different types of ratchets
- Lesson 18 First raise method, z-pulley raising system, adding advantage.
- Lesson 19 Reversing the raise to a lower, the block and tackle, the münter hitch and münter mule tie off- lowering & resetting to a raise.
- Lesson 20 Crevasse Rescue Scenario: Victim falls into a snow plug, is injured, needs first aid and the rope bites into the lip. Descend to victim, administer, stabilize them, ascend rope and evacuate victim from crevasse.
- Lesson 21 Problem Solving: insufficient rope, middle person is crevasse victim
- Lesson 22 Rope up point strategy (map & altimeter)
- Lesson 23 White out plan discussion
- Lesson 24 Glacier formation, physiology, terminology and travel Lesson 25 Glacier travel rope handling – dividing the rope reviewed
- Lesson 26 Taking coils
- Lesson 27 Safe glacier travel route finding and track setting – crevasse avoidance, serac hazard mitigation, snow plug & crevasse bridge – integrity and evaluation
- Lesson 28 Traveling in echelon
- Lesson 29 When and how to belay across snow plug & crevasse bridges
- Lesson 30 Re-grouping and spacing on a glacier
- Lesson 31 Above firn line safety strategy
- Lesson 32 Weather and conditions forecasting & assessment
- Lesson 33 (at hostel) Collecting and recording pertinent field weather and conditions
- Lesson 34 (at hostel) Introduction to mountaineering equipment and the mountain back pack
- Lesson 35 (at hostel) Alpine snow & ice route strategy
- Lesson 36 Mountain Environment: Leave no trace and wildlife discussion.
- Lesson 37 Snow School: Movement on Snow with piolet cannes positions (kicking steps, cross step, rest step)
- Lesson 38 Snow School: Use of Ice Axes, chopping steps, piolet traction position, ice climbing, down climbing and dealing with low angled ice
- Lesson 39 Snow School: How to Self Arrest in different positions
- Lesson 40 Snow and ice mountaineering anchors: ice screws, t-slots, snow/ice bollards, snow pickets, v-thread and improvised anchors
- Lesson 41 Crevasse rescue from a real crevasse- team rescue scenario
- Lesson 42 Introduction to short roping and taking coils
- Lesson 43 Body and terrain belays in snow & ice terrain
- Lesson 44 Mountaineering rope handling
- Lesson 45 Situational awareness, recognizing and anticipating transitions- changing from roped, belayed, short roped and unroped methods in snow/ice conditions
- Lesson 46 Alpine ice climbing technique- ice, névé, mixed mediums & placing protection
- Lesson 47 Climb an alpine ice & snow objective
- Lesson 48 Glissading
- Lesson 49 The mountain environment- risk and hazard management- recognize and mitigate (overnight freeze, rockfall, cornice, crevasse, steep terrain etc)
- Lesson 50 Mountain sense and route finding
- Lesson 51 Alpine rock route strategy
- Lesson 52 Challenging alpine Snow and Ice objective
- Lesson 53 Introduction and overview of Alpine rock anchors, terrain anchors and gear placement
- Lesson 54 Introduction to Piton craft- anchor assessment
- Lesson 55 Use of Terrain Belays, Body Belays in alpine rock terrain
- Lesson 56 Alpine ridges- long roping, end roping, counter balance belay- simul-climbing
- Lesson 57 Situational awareness, recognizing and anticipating transitions- changing from roped, belayed, short roped and un-roped methods in alpine rock conditions
- Lesson 57 Alpine rock climbing technique
- Lesson 58 Climbing an alpine ridge
- Lesson 59 Alpine rock route rappelling/lowers
- Lesson 60 Basic Navigation and route planning: Use of map and compass. Route and time plan.
- Lesson 61 Challenging alpine rock objective