Mother’s Day Buttress is an obvious buttress on Cascade Mountain a km down the Lake Minnewanka Road from the TransCanada. It is located to the right of a very popular Banff National Park ice climb, Cascade Falls. By far the most popular route on the buttress is its namesake, Mother’s Day Buttress, an eight pitch route that goes at 5.7. Oedipus Complex (“a subconscious sexual desire in a child, especially a male child, for the parent of the opposite sex”) was established by Peter MacPherson and Jeff Perron in 2001 to the right of the Mother’s Day Buttress route itself following an intermittent corner system for four pitches of climbing.
Oedipus Complex only contains one short section at the grade (5.10c), but the rest of the route is nicely sustained in the 5.8-9 realm. The first pitch is quite chossy, but the last pitch involves stellar stemming on better rock. The crux pitch (second pitch) is well protected with fixed gear (bolts), but starts off the deck (ledge) and is a bit sketchy for that reason. The route can be rappelled with a single 60m rope.
Mother’s Day Buttress is located about 1 km east on the Lake Minnewanka road from the first TransCanada exit for Banff when traveling west/north bound. Once you exit, turn right and cross the cattle guard and park in the first paved pullout you come to on your right. Walk down the road another .2kms to a drainage on the left side. Step into the drainage and follow it north for a short distance looking for a cairn on the right bank. From this cairn, pick up a faint trail that continues north and works its way up to the tree line which overlooks the main drainage down to the left. Scramble up one short section and then circumvent the wall to the right on a faint trail. Wait to gain any more elevation until you have crossed under a large dark roof and can see the left facing corner that makes up the first pitch of Oedipus Complex. Bushwhack through a few trees and scramble up at a rightward angle to the base of this corner. There is one bolt to assist in the first belay at the base of this chossy corner.
Route Description450’, 4 Pitches, 5.10c
1st Pitch- 45m- 5.9/ The first pitch contains the worst rock on the route. Start up the easy dirty corner. As the ground stiffens, you come across two bolts. Make several 5.9 moves past these bolts on bad rock. Angle back left into the corner and then back right following a few old pitons up some more chossy rock, turning the arête to the right where there is a decent belay ledge below a bulging wall with a fixed belay below the bolts that start the next pitch. Before you turn the arête, you run across the actual last rappel station for this route, which involves fixed pins. The fixed belay below the bulge is not set up to rap as it is hard to get to from the rap line.
2nd Pitch- 15m- 5.10c/ This short pitch is the crux of the route. Follow the bolts (three) from the belay as they traverse up and left over some slightly overhanging slab moves at the grade. Once you can get your hands on the handrail (small ledge) above, monkey over left to the right facing corner and mantel up. Follow the corner placing good gear to its top. Then make a few run out slab moves up and right to the fixed belay/rappel.
3rd Pitch- 25m- 5.8/ This is the most uneventful of the four pitches. Move up about 15’ to a ledge that leads left through a bit of choss to the base of a significant left facing corner. Follow the corner (crack out left) up to a bolt and gear belay on a ledge in the corner proper.
4th Pitch- 45m- 5.8/ This is the best pitch of the route and makes it worthwhile in my opinion. Follow the corner up for less than 20’, which would be a bit chossy if you had to continue up it. Find the great cracks out on the right wall (1” gear). Stem wide and follow those cracks up the right wall until you can turn the arête of that wall out right onto a small ledge below low angled slab. There is a bolted rap station here. Continue up past the rap station, eventually moving back into the corner (large gear) and finish on easy ground to a rap/belay station on the left wall.
Make four single 60m rappels. Remember that you want to return to those fixed pins (2010) below the top of the bolted station at the top of the first pitch so that you can reach the ground in one final rap.
External Links100’s of Canmore and Banff National Park multi-pitch rock climbs, ice climbs, alpine climbs and scrambles, just scroll down to routes
Banff National Park, Parks Canada
Best Eats in Canmore: Iron Goat, tons of organic/free range fare, my favorite is the game meat loaf. As good as prices as anywhere really and the staff is made up of a few aspiring climbers. The main man works his heart out making everything run smooth, not a given in Canmore. Best dining views (and sunny outdoor seating) in town bar none, from Mount Lougheed to Mount Rundle traverses, two of my trademark beta contributions near the town of Canmore. True best of the best mountain local dining experience.
Best Eats in Banff: The Bison, all organic/free range fare, with a detailed description of their suppliers. Recently expanded (2010), I recommend sticking with the downstairs. Better menu, prices and social ambience. Maybe retire to the bar upstairs for sunset or late night. Bison chili is amazing!
Best Coffee in Canmore: Beamers, the locals favorite, super wholesome lunch stuff, local guys, no attitude on service
Best Climbers Hangout: Summit Café, most likely place to find me or my brethren shooting the bull about beta. Best breakfast place in town, good coffee as well, serve Mennonite meats from Valbella, which is the best place to buy free range products anywhere in the world, right here in Canmore.
Climbing Gear: All way too expensive in the Bow Valley, but if you must, Mountain Magic in Banff is far superior to service and actual knowledge about climbing than the two in Canmore.