Mount Joffre is home to some legendary lines and iconic couloirs of Sea-to-Sky backcountry lore, including the infamous Aussie Couloir and the intimidating Central and Twisting Couloirs. However, there are also some lesser-known, lower-consequence, quicker options on the East Ridge of Joffre for slightly less ambitious backcountry expeditions. The area is part of the Nihaxten/Cerise Creek Wilderness Conservancy, which was established in 2008 to restrict high-impact wilderness activities so that it can be enjoyed by backcountry enthusiasts for many years to come.
Access is fairly simple and easy from BC-Highway 99 via Cerise Creek. After a short descent and two creek crossings, the trail climbs slowly for about 4 kilometers before the slope starts to get steeper as it ascends toward a rustic backcountry cabin known as Keith’s Hut. The hut was built in memory of Keith Flavelle, who passed away in 1986 in a climbing accident, and it is a great spot for a lunch break and an even better spot to spend the night. There are a variety of skiing options in the immediate vicinity of the hut on both sides of the East Ridge of Mount Joffre, as well as on Vantage Peak and Mount Chief Pascal.
From the hut, one of the more popular routes is to climb 400 meters to gain the ridge immediately adjacent, and then follow 1.3 kilometers up the ridgeline to a bench known as Motel 66 at around 1,990 meters, where people sometimes camp for early starts at bigger mountaineering objectives.
Leaving Motel 66, the main trail begins to traverse south/southwest toward the Anniversary Glacier and the Joffre-Matier Col, but a gully heading up to the northwest leads to an obvious notch in the ridgeline about 300 meters away. Here, with good stability, skiers and riders can drop into a steep, wide north-facing couloir that descends 200 vertical meters and then opens up into a gigantic wide-open bowl on the northeast face of Mount Joffre, where another 400 vertical meters of playful rolling terrain leads down to the main Cerise Creek access trail at the turnoff for Mount Chief Pascal. From this junction, it’s a quick 1.9 kilometers back up to the hut, or an easy exit down Cerise Creek, 3.6 kilometers back to the car.
Backcountry skiing is inherently dangerous, and skiers and snowboarders may encounter significant hazards in this area, including but not limited to avalanche terrain, glacier crossings, crevasses, cornices and tree wells. Be prepared and stay safe.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.