Steep Skiing – Joffre Twisting Couloir

Alexis and I had our minds set on a big/fast day Saturday and planned to ski the Joffre Couloir on the North Face of Mt. Joffre on the Duffy Lake Road. 

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(Couloirs left to right: Joffre, Central, Twisting)

We left Squamish at 5am and had left the parking lot with our skis on by 7am. We cruised along the Cerise Creek trail as quick as we could and were approaching the base of the North Face by 9am. Fog was coming in and out and we only had a few glimpses of the peak to confirm where we were headed. 

(Skinning in through whiteout)

As we came to the glacier, we found ourselves following fresh tracks from the morning. As we worked our way up to the face, we saw a party of three gearing up below the Twisting Couloir. When we overtook them, we found out they had camped overnight in the parking lot and started at 4am. 

Looking up the Joffre Couloir, we could see the rockband was not totally filled in with snow. We also discovered that I had left the majority of our gear in the car. Equipped with one snow picket and one ice screw, we changed plans to the Twisting Couloir.

The bergshrund (a big crevasse) was fairly well bridged over but we put the rope on anyway and dragged ourselves up it. The party behind us was already running into difficulty 

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(Another climber struggling to cross the bergshrund – notice the rope tangled around his feet, ice tool tethers, and pickets. Also notice the pickets pointing foreward. In this orientation they jam into the snow on every step. Finally, he is the last guy on the rope just starting the third pitch. Why does he have half their pickets? The leader should have all the gear. We passed this group as quick as we could.)

The couloir itself was easy climbing in steep, deep snow. No belaying was necessary. We came out onto the upper snowfield and worked our way up and across until the cornice at the top that we skirted around without too much difficulty. We cruised up to tag the summit and then got ready to ski down.

(Alexis below the bergshrund; Climbing the couloir; Alexis coming over the cornice on the ridge; Bigger cornice above the route; Alexis wiped out)

The hardest part of the ski was jumping off the ridge crest to the snowfield. The snowfield itself was easy skiing in good snow. Still steep and a fall would have meant a ride off the 400m North Face so we took it slow. As the couloir steepens and narrows the snow got harder and we made fewer turns, slipping our way down. We took turns jumping over the bergshrund and started carving big turns in the sunny spring snow of the glacier. The ride out to the car was uncomfortable but we made it. 

(Alexis coming off the upper snowfield; Looking down the narrow/steep section of the couloir to the glacier below; Alexis making a jump turn in the couloir; Me about to ski the last section; Alexis jumping the bergshrund)

Stats according to my watch:

Duration: 6hr. 58min.

Calories burned: 3778

Avg HR: 141bpm

Avg HR on route: 174bpm

Vertical Ascent: 1628 meters

 

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