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.
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.
- 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)
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.