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[TR] Joffre Lakes area, British Columbia - NW Ridge of Joffre 7/16/2012

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Trip: Joffre Lakes area, British Columbia - NW Ridge of Joffre (up to 5.7/8)


Date: 7/16/2012


Trip Report:

Sorry, no photos, but just some brief route notes since the interwebs is a little sparse on this route. Climbed the NW Ridge of Joffre a few weeks back. The ridge itself is fairly long, and mostly hiking and fun, easy scrambling.


A fun outing but a little gruelling for my out of shape, Eastern-Canada trapped body - 5KM and maybe 4K vert. We had planned to spend 2 days and do the Joffre enchainment - Joffre, Matier, Slalok - and so decided to bivy on Joffre's summit. The weather was awesome, we had bivy gear, why not. Bad call - we were woken at 6am by thunder. Fuck. Joffre and Matier are far and away the highest peaks in the area - lightening rods.


Instead of finding and descending the Aussie Couloir into the gathering gloom, we figured we would reverse the first part of the ridge, on known ground, and then downclimb one of the long gullies down to the Matier Gl just above the icefall. Fortunately the rain held off until just after we finished the 3 raps and the one pitch out of the upper notch, althogh we were accompanied by buzzing bees and static-hair. At one point Andrew remarked that every time he held up his axe, it buzzed; we agreed the best solution was not to hold up his axe. WTF is up with t-storms in the coast, esp. at 6AM?! I expect this shit in the Rockies and Kootenays.


Anyway the descent down the gully was fine, altho the downpour and endless steep snow downclimbing made it less fun. Then out the endless switchbacks of the Joffre Lake trail, passing tourists on the way up wearing shorts and sandles and asking, "is it slippery up there" while getting soaked and exhausted.


Info on the route:


There are 3 very short pitches, each separated by scrambling, in the final 1000ft of the ridge: the first is 10-15m of 5.6-5.8 (depending on how high the snow is), and then other two are each 15m of very exposed mid-fifth.


The are 4 fairly big gaps in the ridge to negotiate. The first two notches are easily turned on snow slopes on climbers left (with no snow, might be chossy enough to choose to rappel), although judging hy all the rap slings most people don't bother taking 30 seconds to look around for an alternative. The third one is a chossy and exposed but very doable downclimb. There is one mandatory 20m rappel into the final notch. It is out of this final notch that you encounter the three bits of 5th class ground.


Getting off of this peak is not easy. The easiest ways off are:

- the NW Ridge - 3 raps and one short pitch out of the upper notch, plus some tricky downclimbing and scrambling, then a major bushwack at the end...in short, not easy or simple. To avoid some of the downclimbing and all the bush, descend the gully down to the Matier Gl from the second highest gap. We had one short rap, but with the right conditions and picking the right line, it will be steep snow or choss all the way.

- the SE ridge (or face?) which is all 3rd and 4th class, but if you have never climbed it, involves some tricky routefinding. Get off line, and you are into rapping steep, complicated terrain. This descent takes you to the Anniversary Gl. side of the mountain - look at the McLane guide for this one.

- the Aussie Couloirs, easy with enough snow, but chossy death gullies without. Be sure to pick the right the gullies - there are others that cliff-out. Brings you onto the Matier Gl.


Gear Notes:

50m half rope; axe; handful of gear; rap slings (there is some in place, but this route isn't done too much, so don't expect to re-use much).


Approach Notes:

We approached from the old logging road just east of the Joffre Lakes parking lot. Walk east along the highway for 100m from the parking lot, then another 300-400m along the old logging road. then head up. The first 100m is hella-steep 5.bush. Then it is just plain old steep BC bushwacking - mostly open forest with manageable undergrowth, dodging the odd cliff band. It is a ridge so just keep going up - you'll hit the alpine eventually.


Alternatively, go up Joffre Lakes trail, then up onto the Matier Gl then up a steep gully to the ridge - not recommended for approach, but better for descent. Stay left of the icefall - mostly scree and slabs, up to the waterfall, passing it on the right, on steep snow. Then you there. Without snow, getting past the waterfall is the crux - usually gross downsloping slab and choss.

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Thanks for the beta, and I'm glad you got off safe! I was also T-stormed off the enchainment years ago, and need to go back and tag Joffre (we started from the other direction). This TR helps.

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