Updated: Jul 4, 2019
You might get the impression that the crags at Cascade Falls area are well-developed. The fact is that it is one of the least developed and underutilized climbing areas around Banff. Not sure why this is. When Mark says it has been a climbing area for 35 years, he is referring to the Cadet Camp usage.
After Shrieking Sheila Cobbs relocated the camp out of the National Park, it saw a real decline in usage. In the last twenty years, there has been almost nobody climbing there. About three years ago, I did a gig for this guide who operates out of Banff. It was a half-day thing. Pulling off a half-day is not that easy around Banff. You essentially have Rundle Rock or transport your guests to nearby Sunshine Crag ( a relatively new climbing area). For some reason, the cascade crags joined the lost city of Atlantis.
Enter a new guiding company. Its owner sees the potential of this area. He then replaces the ancient bolts and bed frame, angle iron, bolt hangers. Instantly he has his private climbing area. One of the biggest problems for a commercial guiding operation is showing up and having to deal with crowds.
That is a two-way street. Who hasn't shown up at a climbing area only to find that some guiding company has dropped a rope on every moderate route? They set up camp and have no intention of moving for the day.
So the local guide went out to his half-day venue a few days ago only to find that 4 out of 5 of his top-rope anchors had been removed. To throw salt on the wound, a member of the public put up a multi-pitch route and wouldn't you know it the second pitch of this new route goes right through his private crag. His guests had a less than perfect experience, and the guide is understandably pissed-off.
The multi-pitch route in question is the newly created Minihappi a four-pitch 5.4 fully bolt
protected sport route. This climb has become popular with the local climbing community. The reason being that it is such a low grade that almost anybody can climb it. It is also one of the most manageable climbs in the valley. You can walk off from any pitch. There is virtually no rockfall hazard. ( The guide in question and I disagree on this last point) In short, it is a great beginner location. Perhaps the best in the valley.
So what is the future going to hold for this area? I think that the place should be retro-fitted with a collection of glue-in ring bolts. This crag is the best family climbing area that I can think of. Add a selection of bolt patterns containing standard hangers, fixxe rap stations. Suddenly you have an excellent classroom.
Approach: park at the lot located at the end of the emergency airstrip. From here walk across the open field to the base of a gravel trail. In 5 minutes, you will hit the first rock slab. The route Minihappa is on the other side of the stream in the middle of the blank wall. The leading top rope climbing area is the second pitch. (Quickly and safely accessed by continuing up the trail for one more minute.)
Climbing: Low angle mostly featureless compact limestone slab. 15 to 20 meters in length. Nothing else you can add to that.
Recently a new route appeared in the area (Back to Batoche 5.4). New in the sense that it has been retro-fitted with anchors and protection bolts. Before this year, The area above Minihappi I have never seen a climbing party. Adventurous tourists, yeah plenty of those.
There is a lot more potential in the area that is presently being developed. I think that the commercial interests have to except that the times are changing and that their private crags will eventually get overrun with that nasty bunch of people known as the public.