Cascade Mountain -- Sep 3, 2006

Elevation Gain: 1325 meters (4346 feet)

Climbed by: me, Mark, Bruce, Janet.

Drive to Banff, and take the Mt. Norquay exit, hanging a right up onto the mountain. Drive along, swithing back and forth several times til you get to the lower parking lot. You'll see the Day Lodge at the back of the lot. Park as close to that as you can (there's enough walking on this scramble already).

At the bottom of the first hill, watch for a trail off to the right. Take it. Follow the trail til it comes out in another clearing with a ski lift in it. Around the back of the lift, by the trees, is another trail. You can get to this trail from either side of the lift, though if you access it from the 'near' side you get to walk along a boardwalk with some flimsy boards in it.

Follow this trail down, down, down. You'll go down what seems like a couple hundred meters before you finally get to the creek at the bottom (there are several bridges to cross before this one, but this is the biggest). On the other side, you go up, up, up. There are switchbacks galore. After a few of them, you'll have regained the elevation you lost on the way down to the creek. The switchbacks keep on coming. Trudge up til you reach a flat spot and a Y in the trail. Take the RIGHT hand path. There is no sign. The left one leads to the Cascade Amphitheatre, which would make for a decently strenuous hike without the scrambling if you're into that. Judging by the size of the trail leading to the amphitheatre compared to the one leading to the scrambling route, the vast majority of people choose the amphitheatre.

Follow the smaller trail up, and up the ridge to the right of the amphitheatre. Before too long, you'll get some nice views into the amphitheatre. Keep going up and up til you're out of the trees. You'll be presented with what I would call the "false summit" because you can't see the other false summit, or the real summit, from here. But you'd have to be super-optimistic to believe you'd be on the summit approach already!

Walk up and toward the right of the rubbly bump. If you go straight up it, you have to downclimb the other side of it, wasting all that elevation gain. There are some cairns off to the right, barely visible. Just head about 5-6 parts "right" for every part "up" and you should intercept the trail along the extreme right-hand ridge. The rubble is large blocky stuff, mostly stable, but watch your footing. There are also intermittent bits of "trail" visible which you can follow for a few meters before they disappear, if you're paying attention.

Follow the trail around this first "false summit", and you'll soon see what Kane and others refer to as the false summit. How can it be a false summit if you can see the real summit right next to it? Anyway, this one you definitely don't want to climb up, as there's no easy way to get down the other side. It's high, and steep, and should definitely be avoided by moving around it to the right. Here, there's actually a trail to follow. The trail goes over some slabby rock which was wet the day we were there, but it didn't pose any serious problems for anyone. You could go down under it, or up over it, if you didn't think it looked too good.

Around the false summit, you'll find yourself on the true-summit approach. This is just a slog up some scree. Nothing tricky, even once you get into the rock at the very top. You can climb right up it, or traverse to the left, either way you'll get to the top. The summit is a large flat area that will hold a lot of people. Good thing, too, as I think it can get pretty busy up there! When we were there, there were probably a dozen people there in addition to ourselves. Enjoy the view -- it's pretty spectacular!

There are no tricks for getting down. Just go back the same way you came up.
A look into the amphitheatre from the right-hand ridge.
Bruce, slogging up the mountain, with Mt. Norquay as a backdrop.
Mark slogging up the rubble.
This is the view from just past the first "false summit". You can plainly see that the bump in front of you isn't really the summit, but you definitely want to go around it to the right.
Me, Mark, Janet, and Bruce basking in the sun on the summit. The fellow in the red shirt, we met at the flat spot where the Y in the trail is. We passed him after his group decided to go up the first false summit, and had to downclimb.
Mt. Assiniboine on the horizon, looming over everything else.
The Bow corridor, with the Bow River and the Trans-Canada Highway.
A great view of Lake Minnewanka. The boats look like tiny dots from up here!
Mount Rundle.
Mount Norquay.
From the tree-line, the first false summit, the second false summit, and the real summit.