Oh Cascade... I spend so much time on that mountain and yet I'd never stood on TOP of it. Countless climbing routes and I don't know a single route that tops out.
For the Canada Day long weekend, Cyril, my brother found himself bereft of wife and child, so he hopped a plane to Calgary to come play in the mountains.
This left me in a bit of an interesting spot. I spent most of my childhood fondly imagining murdering my brother whom I was certain was just inflicted on me by my parents in an attempt to ruin my life. Finally doing him in in the mountains held a certain appeal. On the flip side, I felt that maybe, now in our thirties, we'd moved beyond that and offing him might be seen as needlessly vindictive at this point.
After considering a bunch of options, I decided that maybe an early season attempt on Temple was in order. I'd hiked out to Sentinel Pass just recently, so I knew we could make it that far at least and if we discovered that the snow on the upper, more technical portion of the route made things impassable, we could divert to Eiffel Peak for a 3000m consolation prize.
What I did not factor on was how busy Moraine Lake is on a long weekend and that Parks would close the road moments before we got there.
Luckily, there's no shortage of options in the Bow Valley, so we went with 'Plan C', turned around and drove to the Cascade trailhead at the Norquay ski resort in Banff.
Our route up Cascade startd with a quick walk through the ski resort before following a trail a couple of kilometers down to the creek where we found a warning sign letting us know that there was a bear in the area.
Across the bridge we started switchbacking up hill until we reached a junction another few kilometers in. At the junction you can take the right fork which goes right up to the long summit ridge you follow to the top or you can take the left fork which takes you to the Cascade Amphitheater - it's a little longer, but there's no difference in elevation gain and standing in the amphitheater, surrounded by steep rock faces is pretty special and worth the extra twenty minutes.
Once in the amphitheater, we found a steep trail heading up to the ridge and then started following that further up the mountain.
Despite the Lake Louise area being super rammed for the long weekend, we were only sharing Cascade with a small handful of other parties loosely spread out along the route. Mostly on our own, it was peaceful and relaxing hiking punctuated by Cyril complaining he missed his family and calling his wife Jess every time we had cell reception.
We'd brought ice axes with us as some recent trip reports had indicated there might be some snow patches to cross and I was really trying to stick to the 'no accidental fratricide' theme of the weekend, but in the end, we never needed them. Almost the entire route was clear and dry which made for fun, mellow hiking punctuated by short bits of scrambling - mostly around the sub-peak half way up the ridge.
The final scrabble up to the peak was really the only scree slogging we ran into. In fact, I think I would call Cascade one of the best 'value for suffering' peaks I've done since moving to the Rockies. The route starts with a mellow hike on a steep trail, transitions to a gorgeous ridge walk on consistently solid ground with only a bit of talus and then ends with a tiny bit of scree, but it isn't even that 'two steps forward, one step back stuff'. Finally, once you're on top, you get incredible views spanning from Banff, to Canmore to Lake Minnewanka.
After taking in the views up top, we pretty quickly retraced our steps back to the car. The total trip was a super reasonable 7 hours car to car encompassing about 1450m of elevation gain and 20km.
Great route, great views and I didn't even end up killing my brother. Good day.
Grumpy, cantankerous, wildly opinionated and so much more! Getting really tired on skis is what makes me happy.