Early Season Ice Camp 2016

Dates & Price

  • Adventure Dates: Nov.28 - Dec.2, 2016
  • Adventure Rates: $1,150 + tax
  • Information Package: Download Info Pack

Start this Ice season right, with the ACC

Photo by Kris Irwin

Photo by Kris Irwin

Kick off your ice season with five days of instruction, technique improvement and thin ice adventure with some world-renowned ice and mixed climbing legends and ACMG Guides.

Late November in the Rockies is a time of low avalanche hazard, easy traveling and giddy excitement as climbers find out how climbs will form for the year.

Based out of Canmore, this camp will take participants to the best early-season ice and mixed routes to climb thin ice, learn (or improve) dry-tooling and mixed climbing techniques and find some adventure. Personalized instruction from some of the best climbers and instructors (in the world) ensures progression and improvement, an expansion of skill sets and plenty of ice climbing. Canada is a world destination for ice and mixed climbing. You will have a chance to sample a few of the many potential objectives including but not exclusive to: ice and mixed routes on Grotto Mountain (His and Hers), Ranger Creek (R & D, Chalice and the Blade, Lone Ranger),Haffner Creek, Mount Rundle (Professor Falls) and internationally known Ghost wilderness (Valley of the Birds, GBU, This House of Sky) area and the Stanley Headwall (Sinus Gully, Nemesis).


Photo by Kris Irwin

Start this climbing season off right with 5 consecutive days of climbing in and around the Bow Valley.

If looking for a place to stay over the course of this Camp, the ACC welcomes all participants to join them at the Clubhouse. We’re located just outside of Canmore with breath taking views of the surrounding mountains and a cozy kitchen and common area. You can reach us most hours at 1(403)678-3200.

*Slider pictures by Evan Southern, Kris Irwin, Eric Hsiung, Kathrin Koslicki

Camp Itinerary

Every day will begin with a meeting at the Rocky Mountain Bagel Co. on Main Street Canmore. This will allow you to pick up your lunch and car pool to the days climbing area. Climbing areas will change daily and are determined by the guide but they will accept input from participants.

  • Day 1 – Meet at the Rocky Mountain Bagel Co. on Main Street (8th Street) in Canmore AB at 7:00 am. Drive, hike, learn and climb your way through the day. Rest and repeat.
  • Day 2 – Try your skills at a new crag. Be it ice or rock, maximize your time with your tools to get the most out of this course.
  • Day 3 – Shake off the cramps and sore muscles and step up to the plate for another go round. Pull and push harder!
  • Day 4 – Challenge yourself here with a lead climb or a harder line on the rock or ice. You’re the only one holding yourself back.
  • Day 5 – Extra guides may join you for a multi-pitch excursion. No matter the case, leave all you’ve got on the ice as you finish the ACC’s early season ice.

Gear, Food, Lodging


Participants must provide:

  • Daily transportation to/from the climbing areas (participants will be expected to use their own vehicles and carpool)
  • Accommodation
  • Breakfasts and Suppers
  • Personal gear (see equipment list in Info Pack)

Level of Difficulty

While there are plenty of teaching opportunities during the week, this camp is designed for people with at least basic rope handling skills and some experience climbing waterfall ice. If you consider yourself any level of “intermediate” ice climber, and you have a strong desire to take your game to the next level, this camp was designed with you in mind.

From past Early Season Ice participants

Photo by Mark Locki

Photo by Mark Locki

“The course covered everything I had hoped would be covered. I got to lead…, I got to climb steep ice (a lot), I got coaching on how to climb steep ice. I learned how to dry tool. I learned new techniques in belaying, rapping, leading, anchor systems, etc.”

– Past Ice Camp Participant

“The best for me was adding the new skill set of dry tooling and mixed climbing. I also appreciated that Sean worked to challenge me and increase my skill level.”

– Past Ice Camp Participant

“To me the guides stood out as the best thing. It was my first time using hired guides and I wasn’t sure how relaxed I would be with them. It was like having a very experienced friend hanging out and having fun safely.”

– Past Ice Camp Participant

ACC Progression Camps

Finished this camp and haven’t had enough? Look to the camps below to continue your learning and exploring with The Alpine Club of Canada.

Joe Josephson

Joe Josephson

Learn to Lead: Ice – Learing how to lead can be intimidating and a bit scary, but how else will you progress as a climber? Join the ACC on their Learn to Lead: Ice Edition and be confident at the end that you have all the necessary skills and confidence that you can head you and take yourself up any waterfall without relying on a top rope.



Kris Irwin

Kris Irwin

David Thompson Corridor Ice Camp Tired of climbing in the Bow Valley? I hope not, but lets explore a new area! Waterton is a rarely visited gem in the winter. Without the crowds you are almost guaranteed to have the climbs to yourself. Exploring a new area is what getting outside is all about and we’re happy to take you to an area few have been before in the winter.

Early Season Ice Camp 2016 Staff

  • Kris Irwin

    Kris Irwin

    Kris is an ACMG Alpine Guide. He lives in Banff with his wife Ellen, daughter Aria, and their dog Ruby.
    Kris is certified to lead all types of rock, ice, and mountain climbs. He has been climbing in the mountains at home and abroad since 2004. Although he feels most at home on the classic ice climbs in the Rockies he has also made several first ascents in Alaska in the past few years.
    Kris is one of the most active waterfall ice climbing guides in the winter and in the summer can be seen leading guests throughout the Rockies, Bugaboos and Rogers Pass.  An excellent instructor and personable guide, Kris always gets rave reviews from his guests

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    Sean Isaac

    Sean is an ACMG Alpine Guide, based out of Canmore AB. His passion for climbing is infectious and he has already helped many people improve their technique and push their grade. Sean is one of the leaders of the mixed climbing revolution in the Canadian Rockies and is the author of two books: How to Climb: Mixed Climbing, and Mixed Climbs in the Canadian Rockies. Credited with first ascents in the too-many-to-count range on ice, mixed and alpine routes, Sean has taken his talents on the road and has done alpine expeditions and big wall climbing internationally in Peru, Patagonia, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan and Baffin Island. As a professional photographer he has captured many of his exploits for all to enjoy and his mixed climbing talents have been featured in the movies Higher Ground and Beyond Gravity. Sean is also the editor of the ACC’s Canadian Alpine Journal (CAJ).

    Visit Sean’s website