Duffy – North West Arm of Joffre – or just another death-march from the black hole of Joffre Lakes

Go ski a couloir on Joffre Peak’s North West Arm. Sounds so easy. Just another pleasant, nay almost classic, ramble in the woods. Only 3000 ft of climbing and barely 5 km to get there – easy as pie. Well that’s the way I described it to Jon, Brian and our visitors from Colorado, Brittany and Frank. Our intended route is in red. Where we should perhaps have gone is in black. Where I definitely know we should have gone (from a previous trip) and would haven’t had to kill ourselves on the mother of all steep skin tracks is in blue.

Red marks actual route, blue marks better potential route, black marks best route.

Despite a late start from Pemberton, things started well. Neither Brian nor Brittany had ever seen the Duffy Lakes area so the blue skies were a welcome view.

Cayoosh Mountain from Lower Joffre Lake ~photo Brian Earle

View to the Stonecrop Glacier and Mt Spetch (left/west) and Mt Slalok (right/east) from Lower Joffre Lake

Brittany and Frank on Lower Joffre Lakes. Cassiope and Saxifrage in the background with the Place Glacier behind.

Unfortunately this was a real bugger of a route we had laid out. At first rambling pleasantly through the woods, we then found ourselves skinning up some very tight woods then butted up against cliff bands and gullies. This made for slow travel.

Frank making his way up the ridge. At this point we’re still 2,000 ft shy of the ridgetop and it’s going to get steeper

Then we start getting into ridiculously steep switchbacks where I get to show off flexibility. Then that fails and we’re bootpacking through a lot of soft snow – hmmm … this isn’t going to work too well.

Brittany puts on her game face ~photo Brian Earle

Brittany with a wtf is going on moment ~ photo Brian Earle

Finally we approach the ridge. With a groan I realize it’s the same ridge I gained on a trip 2 years ago where we simply ascended from a creek on the adjacent peak (Chief Pascall). We could have taken this ridge in half the time. By now it’s much too late to check out any chutes – we’re at risk of skiing out by headlight

Approaching the ridge of the north west arm of Joffre Peak. Mt Tszil and Taylor (from left to right) in the backdrop.

We don’t get a chance to look at the view or assess snowpack or take many pictures on the way down. In fact we ski out the last 3 km of logging road by headlamp. Welcome to Canada eh!!

Brittany skiing out pillows on Pascall creek

Brian in the never-ending hunt for air – Pascall Creek

Back to the barn

Modest but brutal elevation profile for the day

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