High alpine hiking
What’s the deal?
Experience the thrill of traversing a glacier, and scrambling up rocky summits, without taking a mountaineering course.
Where’s it at?
The high alpine of the Rocky Mountains is a breathtaking world of rock, ice and snow. It can also be incredibly dangerous for the ill prepared. Venturing there usually means taking a mountaineering course and investing in backpacks full of expensive, technical gear. Icefall Lodge, a backcountry tour operator near Golden, B.C., aims to change that. Under a guide’s watchful eye, keen hikers can safely go beyond regular hiking trails into wilder terrain .
Book on the four-day Icefall Traverse, a guided, hut-to-hut, 35-kilometre loop high above the treeline. Ropes, harnesses, crampons and ice axes will be used, but your guide will handle everything. All you need do is hike and take in the majesty of alpenglow (the optical illusion opposite the setting sun) on Mount Forbes, Banff’s highest peak; the vivid blue crevasses on the Mons Glacier; and a petrified seabed, part of the 500-million-year-old Burgess Shale .
On the final day your group will skirt the upper rim of Icefall Canyon, where waterfalls veil vertical granite walls 600 metres high. Continue on to the toe of the Lyell Glacier, a gigantic jumble of ice, and you’ll realize this is no ordinary hike.
Who’s it for?
Fit hikers who aren’t afraid of heights, and want to go beyond the usual trails. The four-day Icefall Traverse costs $1,000 including all gear, accommodation and most meals (icefall.ca).
Editor's note: The Icefall Traverse costs $1,000. Incorrect information appeared in the original version of this article.