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The Alpine Club of Canada

2023 Chess Group General Mountaineering Camp

Join a Tradition of Mountain Exploration

The ACC’s annual General Mountaineering Camp (GMC) has been a Canadian mountaineering staple since 1906. Each summer, we venture into remote mountain wilderness, offering an exceptional introduction to modern-day mountain exploration. Our purpose-built base camp allows you to focus on conquering the peaks.

Building on the success of the 2022 International Basin GMC, we are excited to continue the tradition with the Chess Group, a new location. The Chess Group saw its first ascents in 1978, led by Robert Kruszyna (chronicled in CAJ 64:6). This dramatic landscape, with deep valleys and soaring peaks, sets the stage for your next mountaineering story.

Whether you seek remote alpine summits, gourmet chef-prepared meals at 2000m, or the camaraderie of like-minded individuals, the GMC offers it all. Hurry and register early, as the camp sells out every year!

If you’re an artist, check out our dedicated week designed just for you!

The General Mountaineering Camp is proudly sponsored by Mountain Hardwear. We extend our gratitude for their support.

Mountain Hardwear sponsors the General Mountaineering Camp and we thank them for their assistance.
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CAMP HIGHLIGHTS
  • An ACC and Canadian tradition since 1906
  • Purpose built basecamp and basecamp support services
  • Access a remote mountain wilderness by helicopter
  • Sumptuous meals prepared by on-site chefs

BOOKING INFORMATION

Date:
JULY 8 – 15 (WEEK 1)
JULY 15 – 22ND (WEEK 2)
JULY 22 – 29 (WEEK 3)
JULY 29 – AUGUST 5 (WEEK 4)
AUGUST 5 – AUG 12 (WEEK 5)
AUGUST 12 -17 (ARTISTS WEEK)

Price: $2,995 + TAX

Before registering, please review our Waivers and Liability page.

MORE INFORMATION

Please try to register online before calling. If you are having issues please try to have your emergency contact information and course questionnaire filled out before calling.

OR Call: (403)-678-3200 ext 213

Rockfall and icefall
  • Rockfall and icefall can be caused by natural forces, or by people travelling through the terrain (Climbing/Scrambling/Hiking)
    What are the risks
  • Impact from a falling rock or ice can result in injury or death and can also damage equipment such as ropes.
Hazard Mitigation
  • Our ACMG certified guides have experience and training to manage this risk
  • Your guide will ask you to put on a helmet when in the mountains
Avalanche
  • Avalanches can occur in the terrain you will be entering. Caused by natural forces, or by people travelling through the terrain
    What are the risks
  • Anyone caught in a avalanche is at risk of personal injury, death, and or property damage or loss
Hazard Mitigation
  • Our ACMG certified guides have experience and training to manage this risk
  • Daily risk assessment processes
  • Guest training if avalanches are a risk on your trip
Terrain
  • Cornices
  • Crevasses
  • Trees, tree wells, and tree stumps
  • Creeks
  • Rocks and Boulders
  • Variable and difficult walking terrain
  • Impact or collision with other persons or objects
  • Encounters with domestic or wild animals
  • Contact with poisonous flora or fauna
  • Loss of balance or control
  • Slips, trips, and falls
Hazard Mitigation
  • Our ACMG certified guides have experience and training to manage this risk
  • Radios and/or other communication devices
Falls and belaying
  • Mountaineering and ice climbing present the risk of falling from the wall causing the climber to collide with the wall or ground
  • There is also the risk of a belay failure, which can contribute to a ground fall
Hazard Mitigation
  • Your guide will review best belay practices with you or will control the belay
Communication, rescue, and medical treatment
  • Communication can be difficult and in the event of an accident rescue and treatment may not be available
  • Adverse weather may also delay the arrival of treatment or transportation out of the field,
  • Alpine weather conditions can be extreme and change rapidly without warning making travel by helicopter, snowmobile, snowcat, dangerous
  • If an injury occurs in challenging terrain movement to an evacuation point may be slow
Hazard Mitigation
  • Your guide is trained in both backcountry first-aid and rescue techniques
  • Emergency response plans
  • Satellite communication tools
Other
  • Slips trips and falls indoor or outdoor
  • Infectious disease contracted via direct or indirect contact, including but not limited to influenza or Covid-19
  • Equipment failure
  • Negligence of other persons, including other guests
  • Negligence of the guide Including failure to to take reasonable steps to safeguard or protect you from or warn you of risk, dangers, hazards, oh participating in ACC activities
Hazard Mitigation
  • Your guide is trained in both backcountry first-aid and rescue techniques
  • Satellite communication tools

Our heli-accessed basecamp will be located at 2010m in the Chess group, under Rook Peak. The adjacent peaks provide a variety of challenges for mountaineers just starting out as well as for seasoned veterans. Depending on participants’ level of experience, fitness, and goals, potential objectives might include:

  • King Peak
  • Queen Peak
  • Bishop Peak
  • Knight Peak
  • and more

Because of the exploratory nature of the camp, various nearby high points, ridges, and alpine features will also be visited over the course of the summer. The area also provides a perfect setting for our ice, snow and rock schools, an excellent option for those looking to develop their mountaineering abilities and become more autonomous in the alpine environment.

Day 1:
Meet early in the morning at the helicopter staging area from where you and your gear will be flown into the remote basecamp. Upon arrival, you’ll be introduced and orientated to the camp by our Camp Manager for the week and assigned a tent. You’ll also have the chance to meet some of the week’s guides and go on a short hike to explore the immediate area.

Day 2 – 7 (a typical day)

  • 4.30am: Early breakfast is served
  • 5am: Rope teams leave camp for longer days/bigger objectives
  • 6am: General Wake-up Call
  • 6.30am: General Breakfast is served
  • 7am: More rope teams leave camp for shorter days, cragging etc.
  • Through the day: In the field you will likely spend the day in a group with a Guide and/or amateur leaders. Ratios will vary depending to your chosen objective. Objectives may include prominent peaks in the area, nearby peaks and ridges, or curriculum fine-tune your knowledge and skills. Approaches to climbs may be lengthy with significant elevation gain, and will likely involve roped glacier travel. Many factors (including weather) will determine your groups’ success in reaching any summits. All-in-all the focus of the day is to have fun!
  • 2-4pm: Rope teams arrive back at camp
  • 2-6pm: Free time (showers, tea time, etc.), and the choice of objectives for the next day is posted
  • 6pm: Supper is served
  • 7.30pm: Grab your lunch and make any final preparations for the next day

Day 8:
After a final breakfast, photos and goodbyes, you will fly back to civilization via helicopter.

All Abilities!

The GMC is open to all! 16 years of age or older, novice to expert, intrepid or laid back. The large camp size (typically 31 participants, 5 guides and 4 volunteer leaders each week) allows for different groups to target a wide ranges of objectives. Each day you get to decide which group you’d like to join depending on your ability, fitness and desired length of day.

Food

Evenings will be spent enjoying great food, socializing in the dining or tea tents and resetting for the next day’s climbing. All our food is prepared by a dedicated team of chefs in a dedicated cooking tent. And all ingredients are flown in fresh each week meaning you’ll be treated to meat, fruit and vegetables (not to mention some killer desserts) through the week, no dehydrated stuff here! Have you even had a turkey dinner above 2000 meters?

Accommodation

During the course of the camp you’ll be assigned a Mountain Hardwear Trango tent with a companion of your choice or a fellow guest. The tents are large (3 or 4 person) so there is plenty of space for both of you and your gear. If you prefer your own personal tent, this is also an option although we do charge an extra fee of $200 for this as tents are limited.

As well as your sleeping tent, there is a communal dining tent, drying tent and tea tent to hang out with your fellow participants. The camp also has two specially prepared outhouses for guests as well as two private showers (now with hot water!)

Guiding

Our ACMG certified alpine or full mountain guides will help to orientate you at the camp. Each day they will also be leading different groups to different alpine objectives. Our guides will be welcome to answering questions about the region as well as everything from crampon technique to gear recommendations.

As of 2022, we added an additional alpine guide to each week of the GMC. Along with full guides and ACC amateur leaders, this means that participants can expect to be in small groups of 3-5 people all day which adds to the enjoyment of the experience and ensures participants can travel at a pace which is right for them and interact closely with their guides.

Our full guiding roster will be listed below as each guide is confirmed.

Beautiful location, easy access to all routes, lots of variety for trips to satisfy differing levels of motivation day-to-day.

The attitude from the guides and camp staff was infectious and they were all very inspiring.

A perfect week…I’m addicted to the GMC!

- PAST GMC PARTICIPANTS -

“TO STAND ON TOP OF A MOUNTAIN, TO LISTEN TO THE ROAR OF AN AVALANCHE, TO SEE RAVENS FLOATING IN THE AIR AND A CASCADE OF ALPINE FLOWERS WAS SORELY NEEDED. WE WERE NOT ONLY ABLE TO DREAM, BUT MAKE MEMORIES.

AS ALWAYS THE CAMP WAS LOCATED IN A SPECTACULAR LOCATION WHERE THE WORRIES OF OUR DAY, WAS FOCUSED ON OUR OBJECTIVES NOT ON THINGS BEYOND OUR CONTROL. THE CAMP RAN AS A NORMAL CAMP, IN A TIME WHEN NORMAL HAS BEEN SO ELUSIVE.

PEOPLE LAUGHED AND JOKED, TOLD STORIES, AND WORKED TOGETHER AS A TEAM TO CLIMB MOUNTAINS. THEIR EXPRESSIONS WERE NOT HIDDEN BEHIND MASKS, BUT THEIR JOY, EXCITEMENT AND OCCASIONALLY FEAR WAS CLEARLY WRITTEN ACROSS THEIR FACES.

WE LEFT CAMP WITH MEMORIES, NEW FRIENDS AND MORE THAN JUST A GLIMMER OF HOPE FOR THE FUTURE.

WITH MANY THANKS, BILL SUMMERS – GMC 2021 WEEK 2″

HAMISH SANDERSON

Hamish is an ACMG ski guide based just outside of Golden, BC. As well as putting together our Intro to Ski Mountaineering program, Hamishalso wears many hats at our General Mountaineering Camp including camp manager, apprentice guide, and set-up crew member.


DYLAN CUNNINGHAM

Dylan is currently living in Golden, BC with his girlfriend Michelle. For the past few years he has spent the majority of his winters showing guests the goods at CMH Bobbie Burns Heliskiing. The rest of the time he has done a variety of guiding, everything from instructional programs with youth groups to challenging mixed and ice climbing. Having attained his Mountain Guide certification in 2023 he is excited for the opportunity to begin guiding abroad, starting with a trip to France this summer. Altogether, Dylan feels tremendously fortunate for the mountains and people he shares them with. He looks forward to sharing boundless energy and an adventurous spirit with you.


JORDY SHEPHERD

Jordy Shepherd is an ACMG/IFMGA mountain guide and CAA Avalanche Professional based in Canmore, Alberta.  In his diverse career he has worked as a BC Park Ranger, National Park Warden and Visitor Safety Specialist, Independent Guide/Instructor, Operations Manager and Lead Guide, and Consultant. Jordy is also the co-host of the Delivering Adventure podcast.


SYLVIA FOREST

Sylvia (Syl) Forest is a mountain guide living near Golden, BC. Syl worked as a park warden and mountain rescue specialist in Jasper, Lake Louise and Glacier National Parks for 23 years, and managed the mountain rescue program in Glacier Park for eight years. She completed her UIAGM Mountain Guide certification in 2001. Syl left Parks in the fall of 2013 in order to spend more time guiding, and to spend more time with her family.

Syl also teaches avalanche courses regularly for the Canadian Avalanche Association, and works as a heli ski guide during the winter months.

JIM GUDJONSON

Jim has been guiding for the ACC Mountain Adventures program for more than 20 years, including being a regular at the General Mountaineering Camp and global adventures to Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, and Chile. Jim is known among participants for maxing out the potential of a destination and delivering life-­‐changing experiences to all who dare to follow. Shunning status quo, he seeks out the path less followed. In addition to the global and Canadian trips guided for the ACC, he has also helped people fulfill their mountaineering dreams in various European destinations, Japan, Iceland, and Greenland. In the inaugural year of the ACC’s Guides’ Recognition Award, Jim was recognized by the ACC for his ongoing guiding contribution to ACC Mountain Adventures.

MARK KLASSEN

I have been a professional skier and climber since 1983, working as a ski patroller and avalanche forecaster before becoming a mountain guide. Living in Banff I have spent much of my time in the mountains close by, climbing the north faces of Mount Temple, Howse Peak, Mount Kitchener, Diadem Peak and Mount Edith Cavell; great ridges like the Emperor on Mount Robson and the northeast ridge of Mount Bryce; and many of the Selkirk and Bugaboo classics, such as Mount Sir Donald, Mount Sir Sandford, and the Beckey/Chouinard route on the South Howser Tower.

I also have climbed further afield. Some of my favourite trips have been making first ascents on Baffin Island and in Nepal; climbing walls in Yosemite; spending two summers mountaineering in Peru; sport climbing in Thailand; and exploring remote areas of Alaska and Yukon.

In the winter I have focused on skiing and have completed over a dozen major ski traverses throughout western Canada, South America and Europe. In addition, I have worked as a heli-ski guide in three different mountain ranges and guided at many of the backcountry lodges in British Columbia.


DYLAN CUNNINGHAM

Dylan is currently living in Golden, BC with his girlfriend Michelle. For the past few years he has spent the majority of his winters showing guests the goods at CMH Bobbie Burns Heliskiing. The rest of the time he has done a variety of guiding, everything from instructional programs with youth groups to challenging mixed and ice climbing. Having attained his Mountain Guide certification in 2023 he is excited for the opportunity to begin guiding abroad, starting with a trip to France this summer. Altogether, Dylan feels tremendously fortunate for the mountains and people he shares them with. He looks forward to sharing boundless energy and an adventurous spirit with you.

HELEN SOVDAT

Helen is a certified IFMGA guide (International Federation of Mountain Guides Association) and is currently based in the Canadian Rockies. She is one of nine internationally certified woman guides in Canada. An ACC member for 35 years, she has been involved with a variety of outdoor programs ranging from skiing to climbing and leadership training. Helen leads international expeditions all over the world and has visited the Andes, Nepal and Mongolia with her groups. She looks forward to sharing adventures around the globe with ACC members.


FRED AMYOT

Frederick Amyot is an ACMG/IFMGA Mountain Guide. Fred guides year-round in many different countries: France, Iceland, USA, and in Canada (from the West coast to the East); heli-skiing and ski touring in the winter and alpine climbing, hiking and rock climbing in the summer. Fred is part of the team coordinating the Mountaineering courses in the Adventure Studies Department at TRU and developing the mountains courses in the Adventure Certificate at Keilir University in Iceland. Fred is an alumni student from the ADVG program and completed the Bachelor Degree in Tourism Management.


KIRSTEN KNECHTEL

Kirsten was raised in Banff, AB where her passion for the mountains and mountain adventure began. Kirsten’s family were outdoor enthusiasts and by the age of 6 she began ski racing, age 10 ski touring, and by age 14 she had climbed many classic alpine routes in the Canadian Rockies. Her career as a guide was a natural step. By age 25 she was a fully certified mountain guide. 20 plus years later, Kirsten has a huge variety of guiding experiences behind her. She has worked as a manager of a catskiing operation, guided many heliskiing, catskiing and private ski touring trips and worked as an instructor on the ACMG guides training program. In the summer she has worked with the British military training, run her own private guiding business and spent well over 10 years working at the Alpine Club’s General Mountaineering Camp, Marmot Women’s camps and other ACC programs.

TOM WOLFE

Originally from Ontario, Tom found his way to the Canadian Rockies in the late 80s and has been climbing and skiing hard there ever since. His passion for the mountains also lured him into the guiding profession and he passed his last exam in 2010 to become a fully certified Mountain Guide (ACMG / IFMGA). Tom, however, is more resourceful than that: He works part of his time as a computer consultant and network administrator, which only remotely has anything to do with his academic training as a school teacher. Tom speaks also German and lives with his wife and two children in Canmore AB.


 

JIM GUDJONSON

Jim has been guiding for the ACC Mountain Adventures program for more than 20 years, including being a regular at the General Mountaineering Camp and global adventures to Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, and Chile. Jim is known among participants for maxing out the potential of a destination and delivering life-­‐changing experiences to all who dare to follow. Shunning status quo, he seeks out the path less followed. In addition to the global and Canadian trips guided for the ACC, he has also helped people fulfill their mountaineering dreams in various European destinations, Japan, Iceland, and Greenland. In the inaugural year of the ACC’s Guides’ Recognition Award, Jim was recognized by the ACC for his ongoing guiding contribution to ACC Mountain Adventures.

DAREK GLOWACKI

Darek is based out of Revelstoke, BC and is a certified ACMG – IFMGA Mountain Guide. He instructs and guides mountain adventures year-round and holds a special place in his heart for the beauty and solitude that can be found in the Selkirk Mountains.


FRANCISCO MEDINA-SCH.

Francisco – AKA Pancho – is originally from Santiago, Chile where he began his outdoor pursuits at an early age accomplishing numerous first ascents in the Andes. At 18, he was invited on a climbing trip to the Alps where his passion for adventures in the mountains was cemented. Pancho began his guiding career leading mountaineering trips to Aconcagua and trekking trips to Patagonia and in 2004 he received his UIAGM/IFMGA mountain guide certification in France and has continued his guiding career in the Andes, Alps, Rockies and Himalayas. In 2006 he began semi-annual trips to Canada to experience all the Canadian Rockies have to offer and now reside full-time in Canmore with his wife. Pancho is excited about sharing the outdoors with his guests, whether it is mountaineering, climbing, skiing, trekking, or teaching outdoor education courses.


CHRISTIAN SCHLUMPF

Christian is an ACMG Apprentice Alpine Guide & Apprentice Ski Guide and lives in Golden, BC. In a former life he worked as an engineer doing research on solar panels, but decided to change course and work towards becoming a mountain guide. He brings a calm, analytical approach to mountain craft and loves teaching and sharing with those around him. One of his favourite mountain activities is adventure rock climbing off the beaten path. He hopes to one day visit all of the remote rock climbing venues that BC has to offer.

ROGER LAURILLA

Raised in Revelstoke B.C., Roger was exposed to the mountains at early age. During his secondary education interests in mountaineering and photography grew simultaneously. “As I began to explore the mountains I saw a lot of areas and natural wonders that I wanted to capture on film”. Climbing and skiing became the means to see the mountains and photograph whatever he saw.

In the late 70’s Roger started to work for Canadian Mountain Holidays in the Bugaboos as a construction helper. From that time his skills developed and the interests in the mountains turned in a professional direction. In 1986 he became a member of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides and became an internationally Certified Mountain Guide. He guided and managed the CMH Monashees Heli-Skiing operation in Mica Creek B.C. for 32 years. Currently owns and operates Battle Abbey Back Country Lodge in the Selkirk Mountains of BC. In 1976 Roger joined the Alpine Club of Canada and has guided with National Camps since 1988 as well as the GMC in 1998. In off seasons has led photo/trekking and mountain trips to the Arctic, Africa, Europe, New Zealand, South America, Nepal and in Canada.

Photography has long been a strong creative source for Roger, his images have been published in many magazines such as; Canadian Geographic, Beautiful BC, Ski Canada, Powder Magazine, Climbing, Rock And Ice, Couloir and Back Country. Some of the many books that his images have appeared in are; The Selkirks, The Bugaboos, Place Names in the Canadian Alps, Summits and Secrets, and Canadian Summits. Most of Roger’s photography is documenting outdoor sports and mountain related subjects in Canada and the US. His photography and guiding have taken him to the Artic, Antarctic, Africa, New Zealand, Europe and Asia.

 

PATTI DYMENT AFCA

Canmore artist Patti Dyment  was already obsessed with painting when she moved to Banff in 1985. Hiking and painting the Rockies has been an endless adventure, education and inspiration since. Patti studied painting in college, university, books, classes, workshops, and the great outdoors, eventually becoming a popular painting instructor herself. She has enjoyed several artists’ residencies, instructing plein air painting, and many excursions with painting friends from alpine huts or tents.

Patti has been exhibiting in galleries in Western Canada since 1988, and once in Japan. She was awarded Federation of Canadian Artists Signature status in 2012. Her work is represented by the Elevation Gallery in Canmore, AB and Fernie, BC.

PUBLIC ART:

Canmore Utility Box Program, 2015
Art In Nature Trail, Banff Alberta 2021



KIRSTEN KNECHTEL

Kirsten was raised in Banff, AB where her passion for the mountains and mountain adventure began. Kirsten’s family were outdoor enthusiasts and by the age of 6 she began ski racing, age 10 ski touring, and by age 14 she had climbed many classic alpine routes in the Canadian Rockies. Her career as a guide was a natural step. By age 25 she was a fully certified mountain guide. 20 plus years later, Kirsten has a huge variety of guiding experiences behind her. She has worked as a manager of a catskiing operation, guided many heliskiing, catskiing and private ski touring trips and worked as an instructor on the ACMG guides training program. In the summer she has worked with the British military training, run her own private guiding business and spent well over 10 years working at the Alpine Club’s General Mountaineering Camp, Marmot Women’s camps and other ACC programs.


SYLVIA FOREST

Sylvia (Syl) Forest is a mountain guide living near Golden, BC. Syl worked as a park warden and mountain rescue specialist in Jasper, Lake Louise and Glacier National Parks for 23 years, and managed the mountain rescue program in Glacier Park for eight years. She completed her UIAGM Mountain Guide certification in 2001. Syl left Parks in the fall of 2013 in order to spend more time guiding, and to spend more time with her family.

Syl also teaches avalanche courses regularly for the Canadian Avalanche Association, and works as a heli ski guide during the winter months.

We sell Tugo® Travel Insurance suitable for both ACC Adventures and personal trips:

INCLUDED WITH YOUR CAMP FEE

  • Return helicopter flights
  • 7 days guiding and instruction by ACMG-certified guides supported by ACC amateur leaders
  • Full basecamp setup including: tent accommodation, kitchen, communal tents, outhouses, warm showers, garbage removal etc.
  • Meals prepared by a dedicated team of camp cooks (from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 8)
  • All group gear inc. ropes, group first aid kit, emergency communication devices etc.

PARTICIPANTS MUST PROVIDE

  • Transportation between the meeting area in Golden and the staging area (a shuttle bus is available for an additional fee)
  • Personal gear (see gear list)

The ACC’s annual General Mountaineering Camp (GMC) has been a Canadian mountaineering staple since 1906. Each summer, we venture into remote mountain wilderness, offering an exceptional introduction to modern-day mountain exploration. Our purpose-built base camp allows you to focus on conquering the peaks.

Building on the success of the 2022 International Basin GMC, we are excited to continue the tradition with the Chess Group, a new location. The Chess Group saw its first ascents in 1978, led by Robert Kruszyna (chronicled in CAJ 64:6). This dramatic landscape, with deep valleys and soaring peaks, sets the stage for your next mountaineering story.

Whether you seek remote alpine summits, gourmet chef-prepared meals at 2000m, or the camaraderie of like-minded individuals, the GMC offers it all. Hurry and register early, as the camp sells out every year!

If you’re an artist, check out our dedicated week designed just for you!

The General Mountaineering Camp is proudly sponsored by Mountain Hardwear. We extend our gratitude for their support.