Cascade Mountain

Elevation (feet): 9,836
Elevation (meters): 2,998
Continent: North America
Country: Canada
Range/Region: Canadian Rockies
Province: Alberta
Latitude: 51.2278
Longitude: -115.562
Difficulty: Scramble
Year first climbed: 1897
First successful climber(s): Steward and Wilson
Nearest major airport: Calgary Airport
Convenient Center: Banff

Thanks to Justin Mckibbin for adding this peak.

Cascade Mountain is a local Banff mountain and thus a popular scramble objective. Banff National Park is one of four adjoining national parks making up the central Canadian Rockies. Perhaps the most active climbing however occurs in winter on its south facing ice waterfall route which is in clear view from the TransCanada Highway. Cascade Mountain was named by James Hector and 1858 after the same cascading waterfall that is so popular to climb. It was first ascended by Steward and Wilson in 1887.

Its native name is Minihapa, which translates to "Mountain Where the Water Falls”. Whiskey Creek Meadows located below the south face of Cascade Mountain is used as an emergency air strip for small aircraft. As one of my photos reveals, the famed Banff Avenue is lined up with the mountain making it a popular photograph in many visitor albums. Despite its proximity to town, this is one of the few mountains I have actually experienced a grizzly encounter.

Getting There- The Trans-Canada Highway dissects Banff National Park east to west as you come in from Calgary. Take the second Banff town exit and turn right towards the Norquay Ski Resort. Climb the Norquay Ski area access road for 6 km until it dead ends into a parking lot on your left. There is no parking restriction for this lot.

Red Tape- You will be required to purchase a national park pass as you enter the park. This pass is good for all four national parks. If you plan many visits to Canadian National Parks within one year, you should purchase an annual pass. There are no permit requirements to climb in Banff National Park, but all camping is regulated. There is also a backcountry permit required if you plan on spending a night in the backcountry versus the town campsites. This can be obtained via the parks website which is included in the camping section below. Park headquarters are located in Banff and you will drive through the manned kiosks as you enter the park.

This is active grizzly country, therefore, you should always have bear spray on your person. We had a grizzly fatality in Canmore, June, 2005 and another 2005 attack at Lake Minnewanka not far from Cascade Mountain. A grizzly approached my vehicle when I descended Cascade Mountain to the parking area. The Norquay Ski Resort summer caretaker had advised me of his presence and it was an ironic case of being in the wilderness all day and finding a grizzly back at the parking lot. I advise checking with Parks Canada for any area and/or trail closures.

When To Climb- As with most scrambles in the Canadian Rockies, the driest time is from June through September. I climbed Cascade Mountain in June and the route still had considerable snow at the higher elevations. There are no published ski mountaineering routes up Cascade Mountain.

Camping- You can go on line at Banff National Park to pick your camp site and obtain your camping permit. The closest camping is back in the town site of Banff. You will also be required to obtain your backcountry permit, if you are going to use a backcountry site, which is separate, but can be obtained simultaneously.

Mountain Conditions- The National Park website has weather, wildlife reports, trail closures, etc. Outside of the parks web site, Canadian Avalanche Association is also useful, particularly for winter travel. Canadian Alpine Accident Reports is also extremely relevant. There are 24 accident reports relating specifically to climbing Cascade Mountain, surprisingly quite a few of them relate to the scrambling route, including fatalities, therefore, caution is advised.

Detailed route beta and photos for the scramble and ice climbs can be found at DowClimbing.Com

Thanks to Justin Mckibbin and Dow Williams for contributing to these details. (View history)