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So you want to be a mountain climber in the Canadain Rockies?

It is actually easier to get into than you think
EC-16 2
Mountain Guide Carl Johnston taking a course up Mt. Athabasca

The mountains are a special place. Their beauty and lure attract many visitors to come and take in the views or climb a peak.

The ways to enjoy mountains can vary, but if you ever wanted to have the experience of actually summiting a mountain and being in an environment like these photos, it is more attainable than you think. 

“In a lot of ways, mountaineering starts out as an extension of hiking – hiking on glaciers. If you enjoy hiking, you know, there's a chance you might enjoy general mountaineering because the idea is less about technical climbing and more about getting on top of mountains” says Jesse de Montigny, mountain guide and managing director of Yamnuska Mountain Adventures.


EC-13Mountain Guide Takeshi Tani. By Eva Capozzola

Yamnuska, named after the famous mountain in the Rockies off Highway 1A, is the largest mountain guiding operation in the Canadian Rockies and has been in business for 45 years. It is self-evident they have taken thousands of people to the mountain tops. 

“We see a variety of people getting into it. We have families that come out with kids that are as young as 10 or 11,” de Montigny says. “We also see people as old as they're capable, coming out to go mountaineering. Just a huge diverse set of people from all over the country and the world.”

If you have a desire, it is worth a try. 

“I think the reason that people probably have hesitation in their mind is more because of what they think is super steep and super dangerous,” says de Montigny. “The reality is that you can really pick your own adventure in terms of risk. There's lots of stuff for nearly everyone.“


EC-14By Eva Capozzola

The Canadian Rockies is probably one of the best places on earth to learn general mountaineering – for many reasons. 

“If you take a bunch of random shots of mountains from all over the world – you can often recognize the Canadian Rocky Mountains,”de Montigny says. “They stand out, they're big looking and imposing. They have this beautiful look to them.”

Another reason the Rockies is a great place to mountaineer is the access to glaciers.  

“There are many glaciers in Canada. Most of them are not that accessible. So they're either very far from any road or major cities,” says de Montigny. “We have really easy access here to glaciers and peaks.”


EC-29 2By Eva Capozzola

Yet still another reason why the Rockies are so cool is their history. 

“This is the birthplace of Canadian mountaineering and it's tied to the start of Canada as a country,” says de Montigny. “Swiss and other European guides came over from Europe and helped the CPR connect from east to west. That was in a way, the start of real mountaineering in Canada.”

The only real problem with general mountaineering, is it can become a bit of an obsession.  

“When you finish a program, you either love it or you don't. If you love it, you're connected to it. There's this draw of the mountains that keeps bringing you back,” says de Montigny. “Another draw is the challenge and accomplishment that you get. I think mountaineering is really good for people's self-confidence and personal wellbeing. There's that ‘risk and reward’ element, something that's sort of fading in society in ways. When you put a certain amount of effort in, then get something back out of the experience – it lasts a lot longer than anything you can buy.”

To learn more about Yamnuska Mountain Adventures, visit: