The Cascade waterfall, WI-3, is a classic for the Banff area. It is approximately 1000’ +/- of extremely accessible waterfall ice right off of the Trans-Canada at the first Banff exit as you come from the east. It also has to be one of the most viewed waterfall ice climbs in North America. We had our share of onlookers in February, 2006.
Turn right at the exit and pull off to a small parking area on you left. There is a trail that starts at the eastern end of the grass airstrip that leads right to the start of the ice. Most climbers avoid the first pitch or two of walk up ice by flanking the route to the left. Even once we gained the ice higher up, we soloed for several pitches more.
There are bolted stations in the rock on both sides of the falls. We roped up for a total of four fairly full 60 meter pitches that took us to the top of the falls. There is no bolted station at the top and everyone appeared to be putting in temporary stations, i.e. drill two holes with a screw and run a cord or runner through. (please chop out any old runners or cord to prevent littering).
It took four full rappels on skiers right which brought us back to a spot that was relatively easy to descend through the shrubs and rock. This area was littered with runners from rappels off trees, but we found the down climbing here fun and never felt overly exposed. A little route finding can result in a cleaner environment in this location.
Crux- The third pitch (2nd to last) was the most challenging with a small bulge forming and some thin ice on running water. But all in all the ice was in bomber condition in February, 2006.
The views of Mounts Inglismaldie, Girouard and Peechee on our ascent as well as Cascade Mountain itself from the top of the falls were rewarding.