Crevasse Rescue Skills Course - Logistics & Course Details



Your 2 Day Crevasse Rescue Course will be based from the Columbia Icefields Area. The area is located approx. 122km north of Lake Louise along the Icefields Parkway connecting Lake Louise and Jasper. The venue offers exceptional learning opportunities, as the access to glaciated terrain is quick and required minimal approach time, allowing us to focus on the instructional components of the course. While it's possible to learn simply the systematic components in dry valley bottom, or even indoor environment, learning these new skills in a truly glaciated environment adds context and creates real world problems to be worked through while learning these skills. Ropes diving into deep snow, being challenged to find appropriate anchors, or being unable to communicate easily with a victim all create learning opportunities similar to what you may experience if required to rescue a victim in real time, and are not available to students in other environments. The Columbia Icefields provides us with one of the best, and most accessible venues to provide a high quality program, and deliver a complete skill set in the process. 


Driving times will vary depending on your location, however you can expect on average 2.5-3 hours of travel time to arrive from the Canmore and Banff townsites, adding an additional hour if travelling from Calgary. 


Timings & Meeting Places:

Your Guide(s) will be based in from the Hilda Creek Hostel for the duration of your course with us.


Day 1:

You will meet your Guide at the Athabasca Glacier Parking lot, roughly 1.5km away from the Columbia Icefields Center at 8:30am. Your Guide will provide some introductions, introduce our waiver of liability document, distribute and discuss gear and equipment for the day and provide a timeline for our training in the field. You should arrive with a lunch packed, and enough water (and/or thermos of tea) for the day.


What you will learn:

The focus of Day 1 is to engrain the systems and skills required to manage the rescue of a partner who has fallen into a crevasse while travelling on a rope team. There are a number of systems which can be used to accomplish an extraction; we will teach students the 2:1 Drop Loop System, which will include some variances that utilize and take advantage of the most modern gear and equipment available to increase efficiency and reduce workload for the rescuers.

In our teach methodology, we break down the Drop Loop System into 3 digestible phases. 

  • Phase 1 - Transferring The Load
  • Phase 2 - Approaching the Crevasse Lip
  • Phase 3 - Hauling

Students are given the opportunity to learn and practice live each one of the 3 phases and will receive coaching and feedback at each, as well as tips and tricks for students of different sizes and strength allowing them to trouble shoot issues such as the increased friction applied as ropes cut into the snow, or how to safely excavate and prepare the lip for efficient hauling.

The main focus of Day will be to engrain these skill sets to the point students are comfortable and understand each of the 3 phases.


Day 2:

On Day 2, for those students who have booked their accommodation with us, we will depart the Hilda Creek Hostel at 8:30am as a team. For those students camping or providing their own accommodation, we will meet at the Athabasca Glacier Parking lot at 8:45am.


What you will learn:

Through the first 2 hours of our day, time is provided for review of the Drop Loop System for those students who would like it. For those ready to progress onward, we will look at more advanced applications for the 2:1 Drop Loop, which include converting the 2:1 system into a 6:1 system, significantly increasing your hauling power. This is essential learning for those smaller in size or with any concern for their ability to lift a partner using just a 2:1 system, and required very minimal gear and equipment to be accomplished.


Moving on beyond the 2:1 Drop Loop, for students who are ready, we will look at how to manage the rescue of a victim who has fallen into a crevasse unroped. This variation of a Direct haul System provides 3:1 mechanical advantage which can easily be increased. This is a relatively simple system as compared to the 2:1 Drop Loop and generally does not overload students by providing to much too soon. Our Guides teaching methods will serve to provide clear distinction between the two systems to minimize potential overlap or confusion between the systems.


The 3:1 Direct Haul is an incredibly versatile system which our Guides have used live in a variety of circumstances from Rock Climbing to Cat and Heli Skiing. It is especially useful for those spending time in a ski or splitbord context where skiing/riding downhill without the rope is the norm. It also lends itself well as a technique for rescue in steep cliffy terrain where skiers or riders have inadvertantly become "cliffed out".


In addition to the Crevasse Rescue Systems covered, students can also expect to learn best practices for roping up for Glacier Travel, as well as to discuss with their Guide / Instructor the nature and formation of crevasses and how best to manage travel through them. These discussion topics will be secondary to the Crevasse Rescue Systems, but included nonetheless.


With the Crevasse Rescue Skills Course, we aim to provide students a well-rounded skill set for their rescue toolbox, in an environment that equally represents those where they may need to apply the systems on their own trips.