Scouting out an easy route on a suspect weather day, my partner and I decided on the ridgeline proper of Mothers Day Buttress, located on Cascade Mountain’s southeast face to the east (right) of the Cascade Falls
and Rogan’s Gully
winter ice climbs. We read at Tabvar.org that Mothers Day was a classic, but in the end, I was a bit disappointed in the climb. I thought it to be more of a glorified scramble than a climb with only one 5.7 pitch, which itself was optional. That being said, ease of access and position close to Banff make it a viable objective during suspect weather conditions which is what we faced on the day we climbed it. The buttress itself was totally socked in by fog making finding the start of the climb somewhat interesting.
Mothers Day Buttress follows a prominent line up an obvious buttress (if not shrouded in fog) (photo provided) on Cascade Mountain a km down the Lake Minnewanka Road from the TransCanada. Even though I believe this route has yet to be published (2007), it can be a popular objective on a weekend day and as evidence of rusty pitons, has been around awhile. You are not climbing on top of each other however and the route can accommodate several parties safely if following proper protocol. There are actually three other routes on Mothers Day Buttress besides the Buttress line itself.
Getting ThereRoutes are Listed Left to Right, West to East
Mother’s Day- 5.7, 335m/ This route would not be worth doing in my opinion, despite being labeled a classic by Chris Perry at Tabvar.org, if not for the 5.7 variation on pitch 2 and 3. We soloed the first pitch and then got into the 5.7 variation which gives up several old pins and easy gear placements. After that the route goes fast and furious for the remaining five pitches which we simul-climbed for the most part. The walk off descent/traverse (with one rappel) crossing over the top of Cascade Falls and on to Rogan’s Gully was enjoyable.
Ant Tease- 5.8, 300m/
Oedipus Complex- 5.10c, 130m/ 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.
Itchy Scratchy Show- 5.10a, 160m/
As you enter Banff National Park on the TransCanada, you will come to the first of two exits for Banff. Take this exit and turn right on Lake Minnewanka Road. Cross the cattle guard and pull off at the first pull out on the right, not even a km from the TransCanada. Mother’s Day Buttress should be in full view up to the right (east). It is right of Cascade Falls. Walk down the road another 2kms and take the appropriate approach up the drainage depending on which route you are doing.
You will be required to purchase a national park pass as you enter Banff National Park coming from the east on the Trans-Canada. This pass is good for all four national parks. If you plan many visits to Canadian National Parks within one year, you should purchase an annual pass. There are no permit requirements to climb in Banff National Park, but all camping is regulated. There is also a backcountry permit required if you plan on spending a night in the backcountry versus the town campsites. This can be obtained via the parks website which is included in the camping section below. Banff National Park headquarters are located in Banff and you will drive through the manned national park kiosks as you enter Banff National Park on the Trans-Canada.
When to Climb
The Mother’s Day Buttress routes are relatively non-committing, thus you can tackle them when you deem it feasible. As with most rock climbs in the Canadian Rockies, the driest time is from June through September. I climbed Mother’s Day in August.
There is a variety of camping around the Banff area and of course tons of lodging. There is a large RV/tent campground on your right on Tunnel Mountain Road as you approach Tunnel Mountain
. You can go on line at Banff National Park
to pick a camp site and obtain your camping permit. You will also be required to obtain your backcountry permit which is separate, but can be obtained simultaneously if you plan on camping at a backcountry site. You cannot camp outside of the marked specific camping areas unless you are also in possession of a specific horse grazing permit.
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.
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.