Cascade Mountain in Banff National Park
displays several significant rock faces. By far the most common of those is Mother’s Day Buttress
. To the right of Mother’s Day Buttress on the other side of a waterfall fed drainage is an even larger rock face named Bankhead Buttress.
The most common route on Bankhead Buttress is a mostly bolted six pitch route (the topo shows seven pitches; the description states six) appropriately named Valley View (direct view up the Bow Valley).
Valley View (5.9), established by Mark Stewart in 2001
, is not that impressive of a climb and was not what drew me to the wall. My original intent was to climb Lipburner (5.11d)
which is the first semi-bolted line up from the drainage. Navigating its massive stacked roofs via crack climbing got my attention. But not surprisingly, the choss factor in and out of those cracks was enough to cause us to bail on the second pitch. We then moved up wall (east) to quickly tag Valley View. We condensed Valley View’s six pitches (600’+) into three long pitches with a 70m rope, simu-climbing a few meters on the last pitch. The bolts are plentiful and we placed no gear even though the FAer’s notes calls for a small rack.
It is easy scrambling up to a small ledge below three single bolts closely placed. This is somewhere close to the start of the first 5.6 pitch. From there, I passed two rap stations and continued to the top of the second pitch (5.9). The last several meters of this pitch offered good face climbing at the grade on typical sticky Canadian Rockies limestone (almost vertical) slab.
We combined the next two pitches, 5.8 and 5.9 as well. The start of the 5.9 4th pitch was similar to the solid face climbing at the top of the 2nd pitch.
The last two pitches went fast and furious up solid rock to the top of this section of the buttress. The route is set up to descend via 25m rappels on solid, relatively safe, ground.
Exit the TransCanada at the first Banff exit (heading north). Turn right and cross the cattle guard. At .7 miles (1.1k) from the cattle guard, use a significant gravel pull out on the left next to a large drainage. Follow the trail on the right side of the drainage up to the wall and a waterfall pouring into the drainage. Once at the wall, turn right and follow the climber’s scree trail up the wall until it levels off into some trees. Look for bolts and orange tape (2011) marking the start to Valley View. There are a few smallish trees up on the low angled portion of the wall. It is best to scramble up a few meters to find a station or start where we did below three close bolts on a 5.6 slab.
Route Description (s)600’+, 6 Pitches, 5.9
1st/2nd Pitches- 65m- 5.9/
Follow the bolts up the 5.6 slab and then trend right and up past several rap stations. The first crux of the route comes as you climb the last several meters of the 2nd pitch.
A few moves at the grade on sticky limestone lands you in position just below the fixed station. Exit up and left.
3rd/4th Pitches- 50m- 5.9/
Follow easy ground up and left and then traverse back right up another steep slab face (5.8) to bypass-via a short corner-a fixed station on top of a small ledge. Continue trending up right on slab at the grade (5.9) and eventually move back left to a decent ledge and fixed belay.
5th/6th Pitches- 75m- 5.8/ The FAer’s notes seemed way too complex for this finish. They show seven pitches on their topo, six in their description.
The long and/or awkward traverse(s), alcove and corners mentioned all seem nonexistent for the most part. Just follow the consistent and easy to see bolt line up as it slightly trends right past two rap stations to the top with the leader and second simul-climbing 5m of easy ground to finish the route.
I witnessed little in the way of 5.8 and the rock was all solid. After the second rap station, it trends back left a bit.
Catch as many 25m raps as you want. They are pretty spot on 25m and we skipped the last one by just scrambling off.
Helmets advised as this is the Canadian Rockies, but most of the climbing is slab and this section of the wall is surprisingly clean compared to further left or Mother’s Day Buttress. Single 60m rope. A 70m rope, ten draws and a few slings is all we used to combine six pitches into three. We never placed any trad gear although the FAer calls for a small rack.
This wall gets plenty of sun and would be a good choice for a short and cold day objective.
External LinksBanff Rock Climbs
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