20140719: Cascade Mountain (Banff)

1. Amphitheatre Meadows
2. The Start
3. First Peak
4. Hidden Notch
5. False Summit
6. Main Summit

From Parks Canada "A Scrambler's Guide to Cascade Mountain".
From Parks Canada “A Scrambler’s Guide to Cascade Mountain”. The route description was quite handy, even more so than Kane’s book

Dale and I had wanted to do this a few weeks ago but as viewed from the highway it still looked like there was a bunch of snow. We deferred a couple weeks. As neither of us had done this one before we found Parks’ guide invaluable for navigation. Parks warns that there are many paths on Cascade that lead off-route, i.e. in the wrong direction. I suspect that a history of rescues combined with the popularity and accessibility of this peak has led to publication of the guide.

1 & 2. Cascade Amphitheatre and The Start. Since last spring’s floods Parks has erected trail signage, cut a bypass, and built a new bridge around and across washouts. Though there is a trail bypass, Parks routes you through the Cascade meadows/ amphitheatre which can be used as a know-what-you-are-in-for. Along with a change in scenery, the meadows provide a view of the ridgeline and cliffs… A deterrent to potential short-cutters who might be tempted to descend directly into the amphitheatre.

Dale's photo
Dale’s photo

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Marmots everywhere, whistling and watching us
Marmots everywhere, whistling and watching us
Columbine. Yellow, pink, orange.... Flowers abound.
Columbine. Yellow, pink, orange…. Flowers abound.

3. First Peak

Rainbow over the first peak. Intermittent rain all day.
Rainbow over the first peak. Intermittent rain all day.
Looking down into the amphitheatre
Looking down into the amphitheatre
Given conditions at the peak I wasn't too hopeful about attaining the summit
Given conditions at the peak I wasn’t too hopeful about attaining the summit

 

4. Hidden Notch

Easy going up to the notch
Easy going up to the notch
Dale descending the cliff bands to "avoid difficulties on the ridge"Dale doing a bit of downclimbing to "avoid difficulties on the ridge"
Dale descending the cliff bands to “avoid difficulties on the ridge”
The notch behind us, now heading across on a well worn path rather than following the ridge
The notch behind us, now heading across on a well worn path rather than following the ridge
At the skyline turn the corner
At the skyline turn the corner and wow, a view of the Bow valley explodes in front of us (well, it would have if it were a clear day)

 

5. False Summit

Still raining intermittently but every once in a while the skies clear for a few seconds.

View of the Bow valley; Banff and Canmore
View of the Bow valley; Banff and Canmore
Crossing the bowl
Crossing the bowl
View partway across the bowl
View from partway across the bowl

 

6. Main Summit

Dale's photo
Dale’s photo
When we first saw the cornices we weren't sure we'd be able to summit but turns out the ridge itself was dry (relatively!)
When we first saw the cornices we weren’t sure we’d be able to summit but turns out the ridge itself was dry (relatively!)
Looking back at the false summit
Looking back at the false summit
Passing the first cornice
Passing the first cornice which is getting ready to fall
It didn't take long to get to the top, we've overestimated time because we didn't have a great view of the path. Super windy...
It didn’t take long to get to the top, we’ve overestimated time because we didn’t have a great view of the path. Super windy…
No view.
We looked for a summit cairn; it’s more like a couple of rocks. There is a very prominent golf club marking the summit though. Almost no view.
Absolutely no view of the Minnewanka side.
Absolutely no view of the Minnewanka side.

Only one other group attempting the climb today. We were back at the first summit as they were heading up; at that time it was starting to rain in earnest. Of course, after we’d descended and were back at the car, the skies cleared to a beautiful blue. Figures!! Due to slippery rock it took us a while to get down. I did still make it to a wedding reception in Calgary that night… downed about a litre of chai and stuffed myself full of aloo gobi goodness and Indian sweets!

Due to the 14k round trip approach in the trees with no view, Dale and I concurred that we will probably not do this hike again soon. The meadows might be a nice midweek run though (put your head down and get a workout type of run, not by any means a scenic run), maybe combined with Stoney Squaw Lookout, as it’s an optimal location at sunset for its overlook of the town of Banff.

 

 

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