Canada Alpine Guides - Mountaineering and Climbing in Alberta's Rocky Mountains

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Guided mountain climbing throughout Canada
Rock climbing courses & instruction
Ice climbing in the Canadian Rockies


Box 40087
Canmore, Alberta
T1W 3H9

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Polar Circus Blog postings:
Jan 2009
Jan 2010
Polar Circus Ice Climb on the Banff Jasper Highway Polar Circus from the highway, the route starts at highway level and goes way up to top of the upper ice!

The one and only Polar Circus is likely the most famous frozen waterfall ice climb in the world, and rightly so! This massive climb starts just 5 minutes from the road and consists of pitch, after pitch, after pitch, of progressively harder ice climbing. Five hundred meters of grade 3 to grade 5 ice is climbed as well as two hundred meters of snow slopes. Polar Circus is a favourite of almost everyone who scales it and is not to be missed by those with the skill and endurance to ascend this grand route. Descent is made by rappeling back down the route.

Location: Near the Columbia Icefields. Just over 2 hours from Canmore, or 1 hour from Jasper.
Length: 700m !!!
Grade: WI5
Logistics: A good base for climbing in this area is the nearby Rampart Creek Hostel. Polar circus is guided with a 1:1 guide to guest ratio only.

Climbing around the Pencil on Polar Circus in Banff National Park, Alberta.

Other Nearby Routes

  • Weeping Wall - WI4 - WI5+, 180m
  • Weeping Pillar - WI6, 350m
  • Mixed Master - WI5R, 5.8, 180m
  • Lady Wilson's Cleavage - WI4, a long canyon climb
  • Ice Nine - WI6, 100m
  • and literally hundreds more...

The Ribbon Pitch on Polar Circus, Canada's most famous ice climb.

Gear List

Group gear such as ropes and carabiners will be provided by Canadian Rockies Alpine Guides. The personal gear listed below is mandatory. Please inform us well in advance if you need to borrow any of these items. Items that are not available for loan must be rented or purchased. Rental and purchase information can be found here. Please feel free to e-mail or call with any questions about gear to bring or purchase, we are happy to help you come well prepared.
  • Small Pack (about 30 litres) - available for loan
  • Ice Climbing/Mountaineering Boots
  • Crampons - available for loan
  • 2 Ice Climbing Axes - available for loan
  • Harness - available for loan
  • Helmet - available for loan
  • Sweater/Fleece
  • Winter Jacket or Goretex/Softshell Jacket
  • Winter Pants or Goretex/Softshell Pants
  • Long Underwear
  • Gloves (2 pairs)
  • Toque or Balaclava
  • Gaitors (optional but highly recommended)
  • Water Bottles (2 litres)
  • Lunch with lots of snacks

The upper crux pitches of Polar Circus along the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta