Canadian Rockies Alpine Guides - Mountaineering and Climbing in Alberta and BC, Canada

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Canadian Mountaineering Guides, Trips, & Training
Rock Climbing in the Bow Valley & Throughout Canada
Ice Climbing in the Canadian Rockies of Alberta & B.C.


Box 40087
Canmore, AB
T1W 3H9

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Guided winter mountaineering trips in the Canadian Rockies.
Winter alpine climbing in the Canadian Rockies.  Grand Central Couloir.

In the winter time, the Canadian Rockies are home to some of the best, and most challenging, alpine climbing in the world. Climbing mountains during the winter is not for everybody and conditions can be highly variable. However, for those willing to face the harsh elements, the rewards make it well worth the effort and it can be perfect training for climbing in places like Alaska or the Himalayas.

It is best to remain highly flexible with objectives and to realize that ice climbing days may take the place of alpine climbing days if conditions do not allow for safe travel up high. Also, it is usually best to let your guide use his/her experience in choosing objectives that are appropriate to the current conditions.

Guiding Rates: are dependant upon the objective. Smaller routes like Coire Dubh will be the same as our regular ice climbing rates but extreme routes like the Andromeda Strain will be much higher. Please inquire for a quote and more information.

Winter mixed climbing on the Maul.  An M7 route up Wedge Peak in Kananaskis.

Recommended Routes:

Loder Peak - Coire Dubh Integral - II, WI3, 5.7 mixed
Mt. Yamnuska - Grillmairs Chimneys - II, 5.7
Mt. Edith - SE Chimneys - II, 5.4 mixed

Castle Mtn. - Eisenhower Tower - II, 5.6
Mt. Athabasca - North Face - III, 5.7 mixed
Mt. Murchison - SW Face - III, WI4+, 5.7 mixed

Mt. Andromeda - Astroid Alley - IV, 5.9, WI5
Mt. Andromeda - Andromeda Strain - V, 5.9+, WI5
Mt. Birdwood - Drip at the Center of the Universe - V, WI5+

Loder Peak - Coire Dubh Integral
(II, W3, 5.7)

Location: Canmore, Alberta
Best Season: December - March
Length of Climb: 1 day
Max Group Size: 2
Prerequisites: Some mixed climbing & multipitch ice climbing experience.

Coire Dubh Integral is the best introduction to winter alpine climbing that the Rockies has to offer! This route has it all, nice ice climbing, moderate mixed climbing, a southern exposure, and a great alpine setting.

A one hour approach brings us to the base of Loder Peak. The climb starts with 300 meters of snow and ice up a cool gully leading deep into the mountain. Above this, the rest of the climb is on rock where we will use ice tools, hands, and crampons to climb rock corners and cracks for the remaining 200m of the route. The first pitch is the hardest and the climbing is never too difficult with lots of big ledges between pitches.

Guide mixed climbing on Coire Dubh Integral near Canmore, Alberta.

Mt. Yamnuska - Grillmairs Chimneys
(II, 5.7)

Location: Canmore, Alberta
Best Season: Year round
Length of Climb: 1 day (350m of climbing)
Max Group Size: 2
Prerequisites: Multipitch rock climbing experience. Ability to follow short sections of 5.7 with boots on.

Mt. Yamnuska is the centerpiece of multipitch rock climbing in the Canadian Rockies. In recent years, more and more people are making the journey up Yam in the winter months. As the cliff faces due south, it is often relatively dry while the other peaks are draped in snow. A winter ascent of Grillmairs Chimneys, or other Yam route, is a great way to experience winter climbing without the commitment and hazards found on the bigger peaks. The climb itself consists of 8 pitches of fun climbing up a series of chimneys & corners. At the top of the route, climbers squeeze through a small hole onto the summit!

Climber during a winter ascent of Yamnuska via Grillmairs Chimneys.

Mt. Edith - South East Chimneys
(II, 5.4)

Location: Banff, Alberta
Best Season: January - April
Length of Climb: 1 day
Max Group Size: 1
Prerequisites: Mountaineering experience with crampons. Good fitness.

This route was pioneered by J. Mills, CRAG's owner & head guide, in the winter of 2008. Mt. Edith is just a few minutes from Banff and is a popular scramble in the summer time. The SE Chimneys have numerous pitches of moderate mixed climbing in a gash through the impressive south east facing cliffs. From the top of the gash it is a short ways along the ridgetop to the summit. Descent is made down the summer scrambling route. This is a long day out, with lots of moderate climbing & a time consuming descent.

A climber during a guided up Mt. Edith near Banff in winter 2008.

Castle Mountain - Eisenhower Tower
(II, 5.6)

Location: Between Banff & Lake Louise, Alberta
Best Season: October - December and March - April.
Length of Climb: 1 or 2 days.
Max Group Size: 2
Prerequisites: Multipitch rock climbing & some summer mountaineering experience. Good fitness.

Eisenhower Tower is popular in the summertime and has been many climbers first technical alpine route. In the winter however it is a much more demanding climb and can be quite a wild experience! Depending upon snow conditions and fitness levels, a bivi at the base may be required. Check out the summer Castle Mountain page for more info!

Castle Mountain and Eisenhower Tower in the Winter.

Mt. Athabasca - North Face
(III, 5.7 or W3)

Location: Columbia Icefields. 2.5 hours from Canmore, 1 hour from Jasper.
Best Season: Year round.
Length of Climb: 1 day.
Max Group Size: 2
Prerequisites: Glacier mountaineering & ice climbing experience. Ability to follow a short section of difficult mixed or ice climbing. Very good fitness.

Mt. Athabasca is one of the few big peaks in the Rockies that usually has at least one route in good conditions throughout the entire year. A winter ascent of the either the original North Face route or the Hourglass is a memorable experience and can provide an excellent day out for those with the skills and determination to be successful! Check out the summer Athabasca page for more info!

Nearing the crux of The Hourglass on the North Face of Athabasca during the winter.  Note that the seracs in the picture don't actually threaten the route, it's just an optical illusion!

Mt. Murchison - SW Face
(III, W4+, 5.7)

Location: Icefields Parkway near Saskatchewan Crossing. 2 hours from Canmore or Jasper.
Best Season: December - March
Length of Climb: 2 days
Max Group Size: 2
Prerequisites: Ability to follow WI4 ice quickly. Summer mountaineering experience. Good fitness. Winter camping experience recommended.

This is another route that was first done by one of our guides. It starts by climbing the classic ice route Murchison Falls and then continues way up the mountian via a series of ice gullies, snow slopes, and short rock sections. Due to the length of the route it is best to climb Murchison Falls and camp on the flats above before continuing to the summit and back on day two.

Murchison Falls is the start to the winter alpine climb up Murchison's South West face.

Mt. Andromeda - Astroid Alley
(IV, 5.9, WI5)

Location: Columbia Icefields. 2.5 hours from Canmore, 1 hour from Jasper.
Best Season: October - December and April - May.
Length of Climb: 10 - 16 hours.
Max Group Size: 1
Prerequisites: Hard ice & mixed climbing experience. Glacier mountaineering experience. Good fitness.

This smaller and easier cousin to the Andromeda Strain contains some of the best mixed pitches in the Rockies. After the initial snow coulior, a long section of awesome, icy, shoulder-width chimneys is climbed! Above the chimneys, two pitches of technical drytooling reach the ridge crest and the descent. For those with the technical skills, this route is a fantastic introduction to mixed alpine climbing.

The Andromeda Strain & Astroid Alley on Mt. Andromeda.

Mt. Andromeda - Andromeda Strain
(V, 5.9+, WI5)

Location: Columbia Icefields. 2.5 hours from Canmore, 1 hour from Jasper.
Best Season: October - December and April.
Length of Climb: 15 - 20 hours. Possible bivi.
Max Group Size: 1
Prerequisites: Extensive alpine, ice, and mixed climbing experience. Extremely good fitness.

"The Strain" is one of the most famous alpine mixed routes in North America and is on many climbers tick-lists. That said, it has likely only been succesfully climbed 25 or 30 times ever. The route is a good challenge for experienced climbers and offers sustained climbing in the M5 range. Many climbers who have completed it feel that it is the most fun hard alpine route in the Canadian Rockies!

Climbing one of the crux pitches on the Andromeda Strain.

Mt. Birdwood - Drip at the Center of the Universe
(V, WI5+)

Location: Kananaskis. 1 hour from Canmore.
Best Season: December - March.
Length of Climb: 12 - 18 hours.
Max Group Size: 1
Prerequisites: Extensive multipitch ice climbing experience to WI6. Basic backcountry skiing skills may be required depending upon the season.

The Drip at the Center of the Universe must be one of the best routes of its kind in the world. Pitch after pitch of steep ice climbing directly up a big face in a spectacular setting! From the top of the ice climbing it is sometimes possible to continue up snow gullies and short rock sections all the way to the summit of Mt. Birdwood. Most people call it a day at the top of the ice however.

The Drip at the Center of the Universe follows the steep line of ice directly to the summit.

Other Routes

  • Mt. Lorrette - II, 5.4 ridge climb in Kananaskis.
  • Mt. Athabasca, North Ridge - III, 5.5, WI3.
  • Mt. Elliot, NE Ridge - III, 5.6 in the Nordegg area.
  • and many more...

Mt. Alberta, North Twin, and other peaks of the Columbia Icefields in the wintertime.

Gear List

All technical equipment & group camping gear is provided free of charge except for boots. However, if you have your own gear, feel free to use it! Rental and purchase information for boots, clothing, and personal camping gear can be found here. Exact equipment varies by trip and season, please contact us for information on planning a particular trip.
Canadian Rockies Alpine Guides (CRAG) - - Canmore, Alberta, Canada