Updated: Jul 11, 2019
This route is a slightly harder version of "Back to Batoche." If I could only do one line of the upper Cascade bench, I most likely would choose "Keeping it Riel (since 1885)."
"Keeping it Riel (since 1885)" starts about 150 meters up from the four-pitch 5.4 route "Minihappi." Minnihappi route is the preferred approach. Gives you time to shake out your rope and test your rock legs.
Approach: At the banff Ave. overpass first entrance into Banff if you are coming from Calgary. You would need two glass eyes to miss the waterfall and spot the route. Park at the airport parking lot base of Cascade Falls. (10 min approach) Climb Minihappi or work the lower benches crossing the waterfall on the second bench. Once on top stay on the (right) North side of the waterfall. Follow any one of the braided trails till the rock gets steep. Chuck your rope down and enjoy the fantastic location. Some of the best low-end rock climbing in the valley is about to happen. Keep in mind that you can walk off the climb at the top of every pitch, except the last. You have to rap the last pitch. There is much more exposure from the cliffs above!
Gear: 60 meter rope - 6 draws - 2 extendible draws ( add 4 draws if linking pitch 2 and pitch 3)
Pitch 1: 50 meters - 5.3 - 4 bolts Start just left of the Buffalo Hump right of the running water. Follow the comfortable scramble style rock bench to bench. You will find two bolt hangers on the left (waterfall side).
Pitch 2: 30 meters - 5.4 - 5 bolts Continue up and slightly right to the base of that big orange block.
Pitch 3: 30 meters - 5.5 - 5 bolts Move left to the bolt you see 10 meters away. From there continue straight up trending a slight right.
Pitch 4: 26 meters - 5.6 - 6 bolts Climb over some exciting rock left of the corner. 2/3rd the way up step right onto the rib. Make the final move or two on steep rock to the anchor.
Descent: Rap off ring bolts. It is also possible to rap two more pitches. Keep in mind that you can walk off the climb at the top of every pitch, except the last. You have to rap the last pitch. It is best to return to your previous anchor. If you wish to exit from this point, take the easy 2 meter scramble down and exit north (climbers right).
I liked the saying "Keeping it Riel ( since 1885 ) the first time I saw it on a T-Shirt at a "Back to Batoche" festival, 2015. Thought it would be an excellent name for a route. It had to be the right route. The first four pitches are about the same difficulty as it's twin route on the other side of the waterfall ( Back to Batoche - 5.6). The pitch's above the route is presently a project and scheduled to open to the public early September 2019.
Many of the Metis who had fled the 1876 failed resistance effort ended up in Batoche, NWT (now Saskatchewan). The railroad had extended steel as far west as Regina. McDonald was shipping in new settlers at an alarming rate. The Metis of Batoche saw the writing on the wall. They sent a delegation south to retrieve Louis Riel. Once again the peoples of the Batoche area tried to negotiate title to their land with the encroaching government.
McDonald saw the opportunity to justify his railroad by branding the Metis resistance as a treasonous rebellion. Military troops were dispatched from upper Canada and arrived at the NWT interior in a matter of days. The conflict was short lived with the mostly unarmed Metis. They were defeated in Duck Lake and Batoche.
Riel had escaped McDonald's clutches after the first resistance by escaping to Montana, US. This time he refused to leave and surrendered himself to the military force. Instead of being sent back to Winnipeg to stand trial with a jury of his peers, a makeshift courtroom was set up in Regina. A hand-picked jury quickly found Riel guilty. Given the circumstances, they pleaded for mercy and leniency. The judge, despite this, sentenced Riel to death by hanging.
The new government of Canada hung Riel September 18th, 1885 in Regina, (now in the province of Saskatchewan).