Ice Essentials

Waterfall Ice Climbing is a great way to build on your summer climbing stoke! With our best ACMG Certified Ice Climbing Instructors you will learn modern technical ice climbing skills including techniques for vertical ice and mixed climbing terrain, use of ice tools and crampons including leashless techniques, rope management, ice anchors and belay techniques. Our small class size allows you to progress at a rapid pace.

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1:4 Guide to Climber ratio
  • All participants on this Ice Climbing course should have previous rock climbing experience that includes belaying, knowledge of basic climbing knots, and familiarity with climbing systems. Must be in good physical condition and comfortable spending a full day outdoors in cold weather.
  • The Ice Climbing Essentials course is based at a variety of locations, depending on the current ice conditions at the time of the course.

    The most reliable location for Ice Climbing on the South Coast of BC is in the Lillooet region, approx. 2 hours past Whistler. We use climbing sites in the Cayoosh Creek area along the Duffey Lake road; in the Marble Canyon area near Pavilion Lake; and, in the Bridge River Canyon.

    In the event that the best Ice Climbing conditions are in the Marble Canyon, Bridge River or Cayoosh canyon regions, the course will be based for both days out of the town of Lillooet. All costs of accomodation, travel and food are not included in the course fee and are the responsiblity of each indvidual participants.

    Occasionally, the conditions in the Sea to Sky region closer to Squamish/Whistler/Pemberton are in fine shape and excellent quality waterfall ice climbing can be had here as well.

    The location of the Ice Climbing Essentials course will be decided the week prior to the course, based on current conditions.

  • CWMS Gear List - Canada West Mountain School Ice Climbing Gear List

      The following personal equipment is required:
    • Boots - plastic or leather mountaineering boots
    • Crampons - adjusted to your boots (1 pr)
    • Day-pack (30-40 liters capacity, big enough to hold all gear for the day)
    • Hard shell outer layer jacket with hood - Gore-Tex style (1)
    • Full-zip pants or bibs - Gore-Tex style (1 pair)
    • Base layers - top & bottom, snythetic or wool
    • Climbing pants - fleece, pile, Schoeller, etc. (1 pr)
    • Gaiters, unless outer shell pants have built-in gaiters
    • Gloves (medium weight) - with leather or palms for grip
    • Expedition style gloves w/removable liners; plus, 1 extra pair of liners or gloves
    • Warm parka - down, fleece or pile
    • Sweater or vest - wool, fleece or down
    • Toque/warm hat - wool or fleece
    • Sunglasses
    • Ski goggles
    • Headlamp with extra set of batteries
    • Personal 1st aid (blister kit, medications, etc.)
    • Misc. personal items (camera, journal, etc.)
    • Water bottles w/insulation - minimum 1 litres
    • Small "thermos" for hot drinks
    • Knife - Swiss army style

    • Technical equipment(supplied by CWMS if required):
    • Technical climbing tools
    • Climbing harness - seat harness only
    • Helmet
    • 3 locking carabiners
    • 1 belay device

    In addition Canada West Mountain School supplies all ropes, ice climbing tools, ice screws, climbing anchor materials and other safety gear.

    Please go over this list before the course to ensure that you are properly prepared. Contact our office if you have any questions, and we can suggest places for you to purchase or rent. Keep in mind that you will be spending all of your time outdoors in the snow in very cold conditions (-10 to -20), and that the weather can vary from one extreme to the other. Ice climbing can be very wet as well, so be prepared with extra clothes. It is recommended that you also have a set of spare street clothes for the end of the course after you have left the mountains.

  • Questions about Ice Climbing programs

    Do I need to have special gear?

    What happens if the weather is not suitable for Ice Climbing?

    Where are the Ice Climbing programs conducted?

    How long are the days?

  • The following topics will be covered through discussion, review and - most importantly - practical "hands-on" experience!
    • Recognition of hazards specific to ice climbing
    • Ice climbing top-rope systems
    • Review of basic rope management techniques (belaying methods, knots, rope coiling, tying-in and double-checking)
    • Movement on ice with crampons and ice tools
    • Climbing techniques for steep and vertical ice
    • Ongoing technique coaching and skill development matched to your individual level
    • Ice anchor construction (ice screws and Abalakov "V-thread")
    • Climbing signals and communication
    • Proper equipment use, selection and care
    • Recognition of basic anchor principles
    • Ice climbing rating systems
    • HAVING FUN!!

    Keeping the course as enjoyable (and safe!) as possible is our primary goal. Some of these objectives may not receive the same amount of attention as others as time constraints, group abilities, individual desires, weather and many other factors all influence the actual content - but we will ensure that your experience ice climbing is a great one!

    At the end of your course, you will be encouraged to discuss with your instructor the content that has been covered, and to have the instructor assess your climbing and rope management skills - we would prefer that you know your abilities now, rather than find out the hard way, later!