Cascade Mtn
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Cascade Mountain - Banff

CascadeRte.jpg (46202 bytes)

F - False Summit   C - Crux traverse below false summit

S - True Summit

Hike through the ski hill facilities

Unfortunately from the ski hill you hike about 2.7 km down to Forty Mile Creek losing quite a bit of elevation

Then you hike 4.8 km up to the Cascade Amphitheatre

Once in the Amphitheatre you access the ridge

There is a good trail through the trees to do this

Once on the ridge I recommend hugging the left side to the top point and not doing the side traverse. There is a trail that does the side hill traverse but I think staying on the edge of the ridge is the easier route.

Once you reach the top point in the previous picture there is a steep but enjoyable down climb onto the next part

Here's the next part of the ridge with the first part of the traverse around the false summit

A closer look at the big traverse

Looking back at the first traverse

The next corner traverse

The next part of the traverse. One guy coming down here was wearing dress shoes. Yikes!!

The final traverse below the false summit. This is the spot that should be clear of snow.

The final summit slope at last!

Looking back while on the final summit slope

A view of the Mystic Ridge ski hill from the summit of Cascade

Vicki on the summit with Lake Minnewanka below

Mt Rundle from the summit of Cascade

Traversing on the way back follow the cairn to access the big traverse to the Amphitheatre ridge

Almost back to the Amphitheatre

And not far from home now!

Cascade Mountain

Scramble: Class 2 – Steep Hiking, Use of Hands, Route Finding, Some Exposure

Altitude: 2,998m (9,833 ft)

Elevation Gain: 1,325m (4,346 ft)

Ascent Time: 3 1/2 – 5 Hours

Best Season to Scramble: July to September, False summit needs to be virtually clear of snow for traverse around it


This scramble has a long approach compared to others, a few twists ands turns and has produced many an epic. For some reason it’s easy to get off route especially when late day cloud and fog move in. The author has personally enjoyed an unexpected overnight ridge bivouac high on Cascade in late August. In late August when the sun goes down it is just like you walked into a closet and shut the door. I believe I had divine help in taking an extra jacket that day. Our epic was due to our first time on the mountain, a late start, one new hiker who was faster going up than going down???, no headlamps, and late afternoon fog. Nevertheless I highly recommend this scramble as long as you are prepared. And please don’t bring Bakers Bitter Chocolate to share with your friends if you do bivouac on Cascade.

Getting There

Head west out of Calgary on the TransCanada highway # 1 to Banff 132km (82.5 miles). There are only two exits into Banff the east exit and the west exit. Take the west exit or the second Banff exit off ramp and head right, up the Mt Norquay Ski hill access road rather than left into Banff. This winding road takes you just over 8km up to the Norquay Ski Hill Parking lots. Park either in the left or right parking lot and take a look at Cascade. The photo above was shot at this point. The photo shows from left to right the initial ridge, the false summit, and the final slope to the true summit. Behind the initial open ridge to the false summit lies the Cascade Amphitheatre.

Route Description

From the parking lot it is 6.6 km to the Cascade Amphitheatre. From the parking lot head past the ski lodge buildings going north straight down the road with ski runs on your left. At the end of the road enter a trail continuing north. After 2.4 km you descend keeping right to the Forty-Mile Creek crossing. Cross over the wooden bridge and continue up the steep trail. At 4 km keep right at the fork and you are on your way up the switchbacks to the Cascade Amphitheatre. Once in the Amphitheatre (2,200ft done so far) the ridge on your right is the one you need to gain. About a third of the way into the Amphitheatre there is more than one trail that takes you in a right turn through the trees to the ridge. There is a definite trail up onto the ridge. If you end up too far into the Amphitheatre and the ridge face is steep backtrack along the ridge face until you find the proper ascent trail. Once you attain the ridge and climb along it past the last trees you will find yourself at the far left on the route photo above. Most people traverse along the slope then onto the ridge again overlooking the Amphitheatre. When you reach the False summit hump you begin a traverse around this to attain the final slope to the summit. This traverse is best when totally clear of snow. The last traverse to the final slope is quite sheltered and needs to be virtually clear of snow for a safe crossing. Use a pair of binoculars and check it out from downtown Banff before you commit yourself. From here the climb up the last slope is straightforward with some use of hands but no real exposure.