Only minutes from Banff and close to Canmore, Cascade Mountain has a number of classic ice climbs on its eastern, lower tier of Palliser limestone. The routes are easy to access, park at the first turnout on the road to Lake Minnewanka after the highway driving north from Banff.
All three lines are threatened by large avalanche bowls above so check conditions with the Canadian Avalanche Association here before heading out. A number of people have died over the years from avalanches on these routes.
The obvious flow is called Cascade Falls WI3 300m. The majority of the route is a low angled ramble up WI2. The final two pitches steepen out to quintessential WI3, exited through a slot in the upper-canyon. The views of the Bow Valley combined with the short approach makes this route a popular first for ice climbers.
The left-most route is Rogan’s Gully WI2+ 300m. Another spectacular, aesthetic route, the difficult sections are short, but can be tricky early season. The first pitch is followed by a long meandering canyon, to a steeper, short pitch and finally an upper flow. Again, this route is threatened by large avalanche bowls, check conditions before heading out.
article continues after advertisement
The farthest route to the right is Urs Hole WI2+ 300m. This route is dangerous later in the season because of the avalanche threat, but is a great climb before the snows accumulate. One of the coolest features is the ancient glacier ice which hangs above the route creating a dark tunnel. An optional WI5 pitch at the top of the route is the hardest pitch close to Banff.