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The Alpine Club of Canada

Intro to Lead Ice Climbing

Learn to Lead Ice Climb

Are you already comfortable ice climbing but lack the confidence to start leading routes independently?  No matter your background, our Learn to Lead course will teach you the required skills. Many experienced climbers will tell you that when it comes to  safety, it is important to get into the right habits from day 1. Taking this Learn to Lead course will ensure just that. Get professional orientation to the spectacular ice climbing in the Bow Valley and kick off your lead-climbing career right this winter with the ACC! 

If you’re coming from outside the Bow Valley, why not top off your experience with a stay at our beautiful Canmore Clubhouse hostel. Please check with our front desk team directly for availability and bookings – 403.678.3200 ext. 300

Please note that due to the serious nature of lead ice climbing, not all participants will be lead climbing during the course. Safely leading ice takes multiple seasons, and your guide will work with you developing these skills during this two-day course.

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BOOKING INFORMATION

Date:
JANUARY: 27TH-28TH 2024

Price: $450+ 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

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:

  • Selection and use of ice climbing equipment such as crampons and tools
  • Efficient ice movement technique
  • 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 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

 

Each day will begin with a meeting at the Rocky Mountain Bagel Co. on Main Street (8th St), Canmore. This will allow you to grab some breakfast and/or lunch and arrange carpooling to the day’s climbing area. Climbing areas will change daily and are determined by the guide(s) with the consideration of input from participants.

    • Day 1Meet the group at the Rocky Mountain Bagel Co. at 7:00 am (MST). We’ll begin the course by quickly reviewing basic skills such as belaying and fitting crampons before swiftly moving on to the course learning objectives, starting with skills like hazard awareness, tool selection and efficient movement. Each day you will be coached on how to safely lead climb. 
    • Day 2: Same meeting time and place. Today we’ll step up the intensity of the learning and physical challenge with an option to try slightly steeper lines. The more advanced learning objectives will also be covered including skills like: resting positions, V-threads, trip planning.
Intermediate

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

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

Accommodation

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.

Guiding

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 IRWIN

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:

INCLUDED WITH YOUR CAMP FEE

  • 2 days of professional guiding at max 6:1 ratios by certified ACMG alpine guides
  • All group gear including ropes, top-rope anchoring equipment etc.
  • ACC Ice Climbing Leader Handbook

PARTICIPANTS MUST PROVIDE

  • Transportation to and from the trailhead
  • Lunches and Snacks!
  • Accommodations 
  • Personal gear (see gear list)

ORGANIZING FANTASTIC ACC ADVENTURES FOR OVER 100 YEARS

  • 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