First Summits 2018

Take yourself to new heights with our beginner-friendly glacier mountaineering program

Photo by Peter Amann.

Whether they’re the first summits of your mountaineering career or the first summits of your season, come join us on the Wapta Icefield for four days of skills and peaks. You’ll learn new mountaineering skills and get hands-on practice right away. The challenge: taking your first steps into a new vertical environment under the supervision of an ACMG-certified guide. The reward: the 360-degree view over the Wapta Icefield from peaks like St. Nicholas, Mt. Olive, Mt. Gordon, Mt. Rhondda, and many others.

Sample day:

Mountaineering means getting up early! Wake up at 5:00 AM to take advantage of the easiest and safest snow travel conditions. Enjoy a continental-style breakfast (food always tastes better when our porters carry it in to the hut for you) to give you the energy you need to start the day. 

Rope up, and head up the toe of the Bow Glacier to the Wapta Icefield. From there, your destination (Mt. Olive) is only 3km away. Don’t be fooled by the distance, though: the 3km includes a walk over the icefield, 770m of elevation gain, and the crux: a short but steep snow section. To overcome all of these, you’ll put your new glacier travel and snow mountaineering skills to use. After you kick steps into the snow up the crux, self-belaying with your mountaineering axe, it’s a straightforward scree ascent to the top. Take in the view, relax, and enjoy your lunch.

On the way back, your guide will coach as you test out your new navigation skills. Practice identifying features on a topographic map and taking bearings off of the surrounding peaks to identify your position.

Back in the hut, you’ll have a chance to socialize with your fellow newly-minted mountaineers. Everybody pitches in to prepare dinner and clean up: a tasty appetizer and soup are followed by creative entrees that you’ll hardly believe are backpacking food (braised pork with white wine mushroom sauce, anybody?), with dessert and tea to finish off your meal. 

In a short, hour-long evening instructional session, you learn how to create and follow a trip plan. The next day’s objective is introduced and discussed. Afterwards, everybody heads to the bunkroom to get some well-deserved rest.

Skills covered:

  • Roped glacier travel
  • Basic knots
  • Crevasse rescue (situation-appropriate)
  • Snow & ice travel
  • Use of a mountaineering axe and crampons
  • Navigation (introduction to reading topographic maps, bearings, trip planning, and electronic navigation devices)


Possible objectives:

Celebrating on the summit. Photo by Peter Amann.

Objectives on this course are grade II alpine climbs. They are snow and ice mountaineering objectives, involve a relatively straightforward glacier, and may involve some short sections of scrambling (either roped or unroped) to get to the summit.

  • St. Nicholas (2,938m)
  • Mt. Olive (3,126m)
  • Mt. Gordon (3,161m)
  • Mt. Rhondda (3,062m)
  • Mt. Thompson (3,089m)
  • Portal Peak (2,926m)
  • The Onion

Skills and objectives covered in each course may vary at the instructor’s discretion. Weather, group fitness, and other unforeseen circumstances may necessitate a change in plans.

What’s new this year:

We’ve improved our guiding ratios to make sure that participants get more individualized attention. You’ll come away with useful tips and tricks, wherever your skills are at.

Level of Difficulty: Introductory

This camp is suitable for hikers with no mountaineering experience, or mountaineers wishing to refresh their skills.  All skills (roped glacier travel, basic knots, snow and ice travel) will be taught from a beginner level, and you will have plenty of opportunity to practice.  You should be comfortable carrying an overnight pack (30-40lbs) for 5-6 hours a day; comfortable gaining elevation and travelling uphill, and able to find your footing on loose ground.


  • June 29th - July 3rd, 2018
  • July 4th - 8th, 2018
  • August 20th - 24th, 2018
  • $1595 + tax
Register Now (Week #2) Register Now (Week #3) Gear List

Camp Itinerary

  • Day 1: Meet at 7:00pm at HI Lake Louise or HI Mosquito Creek Hostel, drive to the trailhead at Bow Lake, hike to Bow Hut.
  • Day 2-4: Explore the Peaks in the area with overnights at Bow Hut, see what a sample day could look like in the main test!
  • Day 5: Maybe sneak in a final peak before lunch and hike back to trailhead at Bow Lake, return to Lake Louise.

Gear, Food & Lodging

  • Guiding throughout the camp
  • Accommodation at HI Lake Louise / HI Mosquito Creek Hostel on day 1
  • Accommodation at ACC's Bow Hut for the remainder of the camp.
  • All meals starting with breakfast on day 2 and ending with lunch on day 5.
  • All group gear
  • Transportation to/from Bow Lake parking lot (participants will be expected to use their own vehicles to carpool)
  • National Parks vehicle pass
  • Dinner for day 1 and day 5
  • Accommodation on day 5
  • Personal gear (see equipment list in Info Pack

Cancellation policy and travel Insurance

Please be sure to review our cancellation policy before registering for ACC Adventures:
Cancellation Policy
We sell Tugo® Travel Insurance suitable for both ACC Adventures and personal trips

Travel Insurance

  • "Our First Summits camp this year was led by Peter Amann, a long-time Alpine Club of Canada trip leader and guide who has also been chosen as the Patron for this year’s Mountain Guides Ball. We navigated our way over crevasses and onto ice slopes with some low-technical scrambling on our way to the summits of Mount Olive, Mount Gordon (for Canada Day!) and The Onion. It was a fantastic group and we lucked out with great weather save for one small shower on the way across the glacier on day three."
  • “This was my first experience in the Rocky Mountains and the camp was a blast! by far my best Canada Day.”
  • “I enjoyed the great views, good laughs and new friends.”
- Past First Summits Camp Participants-

First Summits Camp Staff

Darren Vonk

Growing up in Edmonton AB never felt right! Moving to the Rocky Mountains of Alberta was the right choice. I am currently working towards my IFMGA Mountain guide certification and am an active member of the ACMG as an assistant rock guide.

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.