The itineraries of our custom trips are flexible and depend on the participant's ability level, personal preferences, avalanche and ice conditions. Expect lots of ice climbing! Following are some of the most popular ice climbing venues and routes in Banff, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks plus the Alberta Provincial Parks surrounding Canmore and Banff, namely the Ghost River Wilderness and Kananaskis Country
Driving Distance from Canmore (CM) / Banff (BF) and Lake Louise(LL)
Practice and Toprope Ice Climbing Areas (WI1 - WI5):
Canmore Junkyards (CM:5 min, WI2-3, 60m)
Grotto Canyon (CM:10 min, WI3-4+, 60m)
Johnston Canyon (CM: 25 min, WI2-5, 40m)
Haffner Creek (CM: 35 min, WI3-5 /mixed, 25m)
King Creek (CM 35 min, WI 2 - 4, 40m)
Easy and Moderate Multi Pitch Ice Climbing Routes(WI 3-4):
Professor Falls (CM: 15 min, WI4, 280m)
Cascade (CM: 10 min, WI3, 300m)
Trans Can Iceway (CM: 5 min, WI4+, 200m)
Moonlight, Chantilly (CM: 40 min, WI2-4, 110m)
Massey's (LL: 20 min, WI 3-4, 140m)
Guiness Gully (LL: 20 min, WI4, 250m)
Bow Falls (LL: 20min, WI3-4, 100m)
Weeping Wall Left (LL: 40 min, WI 4, 160m)
Difficult Multi - Pitch (WI 5 and harder):
Louise Falls (LL: 2 min, WI 4+, 110m)
Super Bock (LL: 20 min, WI5, 330m)
Carlsberg Column (LL 20 min, WI5, 90m)
Burgeau Left/Right (CM: 25 min, WI5+4,180/300m)
Terminator (CM: 15 min, WI6+, 150m)
Polar Circus (LL: 40 min, WI5, 700m)
Weeping Wall Right (LL 40 min, WI5, 160m)
Private/Custom trips can be offered as a course, or a combination of any of the Intro and Advanced course contents, advancing at a rate in accordance with your personal skill level and preferences.
Detail and Logistics
Meet in Banff or Canmore, Alberta around 8am (or earlier) depending on the climb organised. If you require rental gear you can arrange for a pick up at our office in Canmore the previous day. We gladly assist you in arranging lodging and airport transfers from and to Calgary International (1.25 hrs).
Climate, Weather, Temperatures:
Ice climbing requires cold weather. Be prepared and equipped for temps down to -20 C or -7F.
Services Included in the Total Price:
Guiding/instruction by an UIAGM and/or ACMG certified mountain, alpine or assitant alpine guide.
Rates quoted are for average ice climbing days in the vicinity of Canmore or Banff up to grade WI 4. Premiums apply for harder or longer routes as well as destinations that require more than 1 hr of driving time from Canmore.
Not Included Are:
Lodging, food, lunches, drinks, rental fees for boots and technical equipment (see below), guide driving expenses (can be quoted seperately)
Additional Trip Services Available:
Technical equipment use - ice tools, harnesses, ice screws, helmets, ropes- at CD$10 / person / day and boot rental at CD$ 10 / person / day
Guide driving expenses are being billed at $0.4 / km, unless clients can provide transport to the trail head and for the guide as well.
We will gladly quote you all-inclusive prices with lodging and air port pick up / drop off in Calgary or we can assist you in making reservations for the lodging and transport option of your choice.
Can I Do It?
As for any of our private guiding days, we enjoy optimal flexibility! The Canadian Rockies offer all you can dream of, regardless if you are a beginner or you have been climbing for decades and want to trade leads with your guide. Come prepared to walk to the climbs--anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours. Especially later in the season, we might need snow shoes or skis to approach some of the ice climbs.
Why book with us?
Flexible Dates: For our custom guiding days, we can accommodate you any time! We enjoy optimal flexibility!
Equipment use / Boot rental available at an additional cost: No hassle to get to the rental store in the morning before your Ice Climbing day.
Personal Touch: From the minute you inquire about a trip with us, you communicate with the owner, who does most of the guiding himself. We walk the extra mile to help you with planning your entire vacation in the Canadian Rockies, including insider advice, accommodation and airport shuttles.
Transport: We can usually arrange for you to catch a ride with the guide to get to the climbs at cost.
WINTER ICE CLIMBING
It is essential that you do a careful job in selecting and preparing your equipment for this
Temperatures are typically in the teens but can easily drop to -10F to -20F and be
accompanied by high winds and blowing snow. These conditions, in combination with the
long periods of inactivity required to belay a climber on a difficult pitch, can easily lead to
problems of hypothermia or frostbite.
We can teach climbing in difficult conditions, but we cannot teach hypothermic students.
For your own safety and that of the group, please take this list seriously and come in good condition.
If you have any questions about choosing your gear, feel free to call and ask for advice.
1. Technical Equipment
• Leather or plastic mountaineering boots* (Plastic boots are recommended, leather
boots can be used if warm enough and designed for waterfall ice climbing)
• Climbing helmet**
• Two technical ice tools with leashes**
• Technical Crampons suited for front pointing that fit your boots or can be easily
• 1 Climbing Harness, big enough to fit over bulky clothing**
• 1 Belay Device (ATC, Reverso…..)**
• 2 Locking Carabiners**
• Backpack (large enough for spare clothes, lunch, flask and gear)
All items marked ‘*’ can be rented from a rental shop locally.
All items marked ‘**’ can be provided by OnTop.
Please bring your own equipment if you have it.
We suggest using the ‘layer system’: Light technical clothing that doesn’t take much space
in your backpack and dries quickly if sweaty or wet.
Layers can be put on and taken off fast if weather conditions change during the day.
• Wind and waterproof shell jacket with hood (Gore Tex or similar)
• Wind and waterproof over pants with side zippers (Gore Tex or similar)
• Mountaineering pants (Schoeller or similar fabric)
• Down jacket or vest (optional for belaying)
• Fleece or heavy jacket
• 2nd layer: Medium weight fleece sweater
• 2nd layer: Very light fleece pants or expedition weight long underwear
• Long underwear or running tights (e.g. Capilene or polypro)
• Undershirt - preferably long sleeves (e.g. Capilene or polypro)
• Warm socks for mountaineering boots (wool/synthetic outers)
• Lighter socks (thin liner for mountaineering boots)
• Warm hat, covering your ears and fitting under helmet
• Lightweight gloves (fleece)
• Warm, waterproof pair of gloves, preferable two pairs
• Gaiters (preferably knee length)
• Neck tube (optional)
3. Other Items
• Sun glasses with high quality UV protection
• Sun screen and lip protection
• Water bottle, preferably insulated, minimum volume: 1 liter
• Thermos (optional) – hot tea, cocoa or soup
• Head lamp with spare batteries and bulb for long climbs that require early starts
• Blister kit (optional)
• Snacks (candy bars, dried fruit, sandwiches, nuts, etc.) High energy food is needed!
• Personal items (prescription medicine, extra contact lenses and maintenance
equipment, extra pair of prescription glasses, etc.)
• Pocket knife or leatherman (optional)
• Zip-lock bag for wallet and other documents to keep them dry (recommended)
• Camera, spare films, batteries (optional)
• Compass, maps and GPS optional