Coast Mountains - Joffre Lakes and Wedgemount Areas
Spent the two days after this week's Pinapple Express storm on the S. Coast looking for good skiing up high.
On Wednesday we found great skiing with minimal sluffing above 2400m on Mt. Matier's NW face. On the morning ascent snow below 2000m was totally refrozen and supportive, ideal ski crampon conditions above Upper Joffre lake (or crampons). From 2000-2400m on the Matier Glacier snow became unsupportive crust which turned to smooth sun softened snow in the PM. Glacier coverage gaining the glacier is poor and I stepped through a shallow snow bridge on the glacier's lower margin. We set a track up the Matier's North Ridge and climbed over the summit to the NW face using crampons and ice-axes. Beware the cornice along this route. On the NW face, winds had exposed previous tracks and lightly scoured the first turn of skiing, but snow was 9.9/10 the rest of the way to the glacier.
We exited out Slalok's 1000m North face which was wind effected up high, sweet in the middle and then refrozen avalanche debris down low. Low angle sun-softened snow on the moraines above the upper lake skied well at 4-5pm. Low angle tracks on Tszil looked similarly good. Very little new solar/wet avalanche activity observed for a full-sun day. The ski out the trail was in warm spring slop with a nice moss and twig coating. Lakes are melting, we totally avoided Lower Joffre lake on both passes.
On Thursday we ventured to the Wedgemont area. We again found solid refrozen conditions below 2300m. We ventured up the NW couloir hoping for similar conditions to Matier and were rewarded with snow on the good side of 'variable'. We passed over the Parkhurst and Rethel Couloirs because of less than ideal snow below 2500m. Boot packing with crampons and axes was good, and someone had beat us to the line by accessing via the summit ridge the day prior. Nice job guys. With sections of both good snow and ice, the snow sluffing while skiing was more than you'd expect and at least one skier had to pause and let their's pass. The low angle ski out the Wedge Glacier was great down to the lake. Below the lake, conditions just get worse and worse until you run out of skiable snow around 1000m.
Spring is well underway and I'm looking forward to the upcoming Spring volcano season in the North Cascades.