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What You Need to Know About Ice Climbing in Alberta

Ice climbing is the apex of winter sports. This activity is a perfect combination of adrenaline-pumping excitement, intense exercise, and quality time in the great outdoors.
4-3 Ice Climbing in Alberta
Photo by Matt Forster on Unsplash

Not only that, but Alberta is also one of the best places in the world for ice climbers to explore, regardless of their experience level.

Why You Should Try Ice Climbing

Ice climbing is a natural evolution in skill for those who enjoy rock climbing, and Alberta offers many choices. If you are an avid indoor climber, moving onto outdoor rock climbing is a great progression, however, if you are already an experienced outdoor climber, ice climbing might be your next, best challenge.

Best Ice Climbing Spots in Alberta

There are many places to go ice climbing in Alberta! The Rocky Mountains offer a perfect combination of running water, steep inclines, and cold temperatures to get the perfect “icefall.”

For beginners, there are several popular locations. Canmore Junkyards can be found by Grassi Lakes area, about 100 km west of Calgary. The Johnson Creek area – 30 km south-east of Lake Louise - also offers ice climbing.

If you are in the Edmonton are, Maligne Canyon in Jasper is another location to consider. There are other great potential ice climbing spots in and around Jasper that are worth checking out. With Jasper’s many tourist attractions, mountain accommodations like Pyramid Lake, and countless hiking areas, you will find activities for the whole family – climbers and non-climbers alike.

Safety First – Working with a Guide and Winter Readiness

Ice climbing is exciting but can be dangerous. Every year there are climbers, both amateur and experienced, who are injured. Most injuries can be avoided with proper preparation, equipment, and training.

If you are new to ice climbing, you should work with a guide to receive tips, training, and general guidelines. Ice climbing involves many tools and skills that you likely aren’t familiar with. A skilled guide will share advice on what equipment you need, how to use it, and how to identify spots where the ice is safe to climb on.

A part of safe ice climbing is being prepared for winter on a mountain. In the mountains, weather can turn quickly and suddenly. Being prepared with the proper clothing, and safety gear, such as GPS locators, first aid kits, flares, etc., can be the difference between life and death. Always let someone know where you are climbing and when you intend to return. Should the worst happen, your safety equipment will protect you and make it easier for search and rescue units to locate you.

Enjoying an Icy Escape

While it is critical to keep the safety risks of ice climbing in mind, this sport is safe as long as the proper precautions are taken. Ice climbing is a unique way to experience the great outdoors during winter in Alberta, and the province offers many incredible locations to try out your climbing skills. North or south, you can find excellent ice climbing opportunities in Alberta.

Nerissa McNaughton is a freelance writer and a contributor to Great West Media. This story was written for the Cool Winter Guide advertising feature. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff.