Cascade Mountain Normal Route

Banff National Park

Hike and scramble to the top of an impressive peak just outside the town of Banff.

Alpine Climbing Easy

Distance
19 km
Ascent
1.6 km
Descent
1.6 km
Low Point
1.6 km
High Point
3 km
Gradient
26˚
Cascade Mountain Normal Route Map

Cascade Mountain is the huge pyramid rising north of Banff townsite. The Cascade Amphitheatre, forming the backside of the mountain in relation to Banff, is a popular summer hike from Mount Norquay Ski Area. Huge cliffs of an arcing ridgeline form the amphitheatre, and the route to Cascade’s summit follows this same ridge. The ascent is mostly a hike, but careful route finding and light scrambling are required. It’s best done in midsummer when free of snow, otherwise expect a much more serious route.

Description

Begin by taking the hiking trail to Cascade Amphitheatre. Soon after entering the amphitheatre, find the climbers trail through the trees to gain the east ridge. Do not go through the steep cliffs near the base of this ridge, just keep angling around them until easier terrain appears. Continue upward, staying on or to the right of the ridge crest, soon leaving the trees behind. Ahead is First Peak, a sub-summit on the ridgeline. It’s easiest to contour wide around the right side of this feature, though multiple worn paths will be visible. Look for cairns and colored tape that mark the standard route.

Next, the False Summit comes into view ahead. Avoid the temptation to go straight over this feature, because vertical cliffs make up the other side. Instead, make another wide contour to the right, again looking for markers to lead the way. After passing the False Summit, work your way back up to the main ridgeline. In places, you’ll encounter loose scree and short scrambles, but nothing too difficult if you stay on route.

Once back on the main ridge, it’s a straightforward but long slog up loose scree to the summit. Snow can linger well into the summer, so be prepared to turn back if you encounter unsafe conditions and aren’t well equipped.

The panorama on top is of course incredible, but it’s rivaled by the views you’ll have on the entire descent. To return, retrace the ascent route, paying careful attention so as not to lose the way.

Sources: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ab/banff/activ/escalade-scrambling/cascade

Difficulty

Easy

The ascent involves simple glacier hiking and/or short, straightforward rock scrambles. Equivalent to Alpine F, F+

Low Exposure

1 out of 4

The route is well protected or easy enough that protection is not required.

Remoteness

2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

June, July, August, September

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area