The Alpine Club of Canada

First Freeze Ice Camp – With Kris Irwin

Get Your Season Off to the Best Possible Start with Ice and Mixed Climbing Specialist Kris Irwin

Wanting to push your ice climbing to the next level this year? Or, gain the confidence to tackle bigger objectives independently? This early season ice camp aims to put you on the best possible footing for the season ahead with five days of personalized instruction and hands-on coaching from Kris and his team of assistant guides.

While many climbers retreat indoors for the winter, early December in the Rockies is a time of low avalanche hazard, easy travel and giddy excitement as the classic ice lines come into condition. Our Clubhouse’s location in Canmore, AB allows you to take full advantage of this sitting on the doorstep of some of the best (and most reliable) ice climbing in the world.

Alongside core ice climbing skills, we aim to customize this course to each individual. Kris will be available to teach anything from dry-tooling techniques to efficient rope work and a talented team of assistant guides will join you on day four to facilitate multi-pitch ice routes.

Join us this winter for a week of learning, development and plenty of enjoyable ice climbing!

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December: 4TH – 8TH, 2023

Price: $1375+ TAX

Before registering, please review our Waivers and Liability page.


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

Mountaineering Hazards

  • 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
Learning Objectives
Core skills you can expect to develop on this camp include
  • Ice and mixed movement skills
  • Steep ice techniques
  • Ice screw placements and stances
  • Resting positions
  • Lead climbing strategy and tactics
  • Dry-tooling techniques
  • Hazard awareness and route selection
  • Anchors
  • V-threads
  • Rapelling techniques
  • Multi-pitch systems
Climbing Objectives

Canmore is a world-class destination for ice and mixed climbing. Depending on what forms, regions that you may have a chance to sample include:

  • Ranger Creek – R & D, Chalice and the Blade, Lone Ranger
  • Kidd Falls
  • King Creek
  • Wedge Smear 
  • Evan Thomas Creek
  • Haffner Creek – various pure ice, mixed and dry tooling, single-pitch routes
  • Bear Spirit
  • Cascade Mountain – Rogans, Cascade, Urs
  • Ghost Wilderness Area – Hidden Dragon/Joker, Anorexia Nervosa, Valley of the Birds, GBU, This House of Sky

Please note that on the multi-pitch day, the guides will choose an area based on conditions as well as whether the climbs have large belay platforms to allow for physical distancing and avoid contact with other parties. Face masks (buffs recommended).  Sometimes it’s cold.

  • Climbing areas will change daily and are determined by the guide(s) with the consideration of input from participants.
    • Day 1: Meet your group and Kris at the ACC Canmore Clubhouse at 7:00 am. We’ll begin the course at a more relaxed venue where you can review basic skills and techniques and ease back into your ice climbing rhythm. This day we will focus on ice movement skills, hazard awareness, ice screw placements and anchors.
    • Day 2: Try your skills at a new crag. Be it ice or mixed climbing, we’ll step up the intensity of the learning and the physical challenge with a particular focus on coaching steep ice technique, resting positions, screw placement stances, leading strategies, V-threads. 
    • Day 3Another day to hone your ice and/or mixed climbing skills from the previous day and also practice new techniques. Later, the group will shift towards learning multi-pitch systems and rappelling techniques before heading out for pitches on Day 4.
    • Day 4: Extra guides will join the group for a multi-pitch excursion day. break into pairs and determine a suitable objective with your guide. 
    • Day 5This your final day alone with Kris. Once again, you’ll check out a new climbing destination. Maybe challenge yourself here with a lead climb or a harder line on the rock or ice. Leave all you’ve got on the ice as you finish the ACC’s First Freeze Ice Camp, debrief, and head home. 

While there are plenty of teaching opportunities during the week, this camp is designed for people with 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.

If you have more limited ice climbing experience, contact us to find out whether this camp or our entry-level Intro to Ice Climbing course is more appropriate for you.


Food is not provided on this camp. So please bring along a packed lunch and some snacks for each day. 


As this course is offered out of Canmore, we welcome all participants to stay at the beautiful ACC Clubhouse and enjoy the remote atmosphere that surrounds our location. Located on a high bench overlooking the Three Sisters, Ha Ling and Mount Rundle, it’s the perfect place to relax in the evenings after your climbing. You can reserve your room for the nights of the course by calling our reservations team on 403 678 3200.

For full details on the Canmore Clubhouse accommodation click here.


Our guide for this course is an experienced Ice and Mixed climber Kris Irwin, who has completed several first assents and routes in the Rookies. He is most comfortable climbing winter ice and mixed routes on formidable peaks in Canada during the winter months.   

The ACC hires guides certified by the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG). Visit the ACMG website to learn more about what they do!

Gear and Rentals

Don’t have everything on the gear list (found on the right hand side of this webpage)? We recommend heading to Gear Up in Canmore to grab any items your might be missing. To ensure availability of items call ahead to book. ACC members get a 10% discount.


Kris is an ACMG Alpine Guide and lives in Banff with his wife Ellen and their daughters Aria and Annie. He is certified to lead all types of rock, ice, and mountain climbs and 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

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


  • 5 days of professional guiding at max 6:1 ratios by certified ACMG alpine guides 
  • 1 day with additional assistant guides (2:1 participant-to-guide ratio) to facilitate multi-pitch climbing
  • All Group Gear, including ropes, top-rope anchoring equipment ect.
  • ACC Ice Climbing Leader Instructional Handbook 


  • Transportation to and from the trailhead (please carpool when possible to save space at the trail head)
  • Meals and Lunches
  • Accommodation
  • Personal gear (see gear list)


  • Local Knowledge – based out of Canmore, AB, we know the Rockies region and the best local caterers, guides and porters
  • Dedicated resources – full-time office staff, ACMG guides and group equipment on-hand to ensure your trip runs smoothly
  • Not-for-profit – any money we make on camps and courses is reinvested into providing services for our members and the mountain community