Rogans Gully is the ugly stepsister to Cascade Falls
, the classic Canadian Rockies WI-3 located in Banff National Park
. For the most part, Rogans Gully is a WI-2 but the last pitch can be in such condition to be considered WI-3. Unlike Cascade Falls which should be ice from top to bottom, Rogans Gully normally will have a few dry breaks in the line. Even a boulder or two will protrude in places almost giving you a feel for mixed, but not really. This, in my opinion, has to be one of the best beginner multi-pitch ice routes in the Rockies. Unlike Cascade Falls, most of Rogans Gully is hidden from the TransCanada, yet another reason it is not nearly as popular.
As with Cascade Falls, Rogans sits below a snow filled gully that can be a formidable avalanche hazard.
There have been several fatalities on these routes. Check with avalanche conditions
before you head out. In a February outing, we found the gully almost dry and the route extremely safe. Rogans Gully is about the same length as Cascade Falls, approximately 1000'+/- vertical. Climbers do make the mistake that they have topped out when in fact there is more to go. You just have to coil the rope and proceed on possibly dry ground to find what is really the better ice towards the top of the route.
Turn right at the first Banff exit heading north and pull off to a small parking area on your left. There is a trail that starts at the eastern end of the grass airstrip that leads right to the start of Cascade Falls. About three quarters of the way up you will spot a trail that takes off to the left. Follow this trail for less than 10 minutes to Rogans Gully. If you caught the right trail, you should be able to start on ice as soon as you come to Rogans Gully.
The first two pitches are easy going. Then you come to a narrow gully (bomber rappel station on your left) that trends to the right. Many would move through this area un-roped to the next pitch. After topping out on what could be called the 4th pitch, you might hit a dry rocky area where it would be a good idea to do a mountaineer's coil and move on to several small pitches of steeper ice through narrow sections. These are fun, interesting challenges for beginners.
Eventually you will work your way to the best pitch on the route which is a broad curtain with some mushrooming effect.
You will run into ice icicles here and the ice overall can be a different texture. Depending on conditions, this is the crux pitch. I started out right and moved left for the upper section of this curtain. Unlike Cascade Falls in 2006, there is a rappel station at the top.
The views are not nearly as dramatic as Cascade Falls, but it is a worthy route to at least say you got on some Banff ice. If I remember correctly, we only took three 60 meter rappels and walked down some of the intermediate ice in between.
Essential Gear- Ice Tools, two 60 meter ropes, crampons, ice screws, draws, runners, helmet, rappel and belay equipment, several pairs of gloves, etc.
Canadian Avalanche Association
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