It is pretty rare for my first trip to the Duffey Lake Road to be as late as in January. In the past I have had some of the best days of the year in November.
The conditions just haven’t been good enough to justify making the trek from Vancouver. With a forecast that seemed promising I made last minute plans to venture north. Given the recent accidents and somewhat variable weather my expectations were low for truly epic (in a good way) conditions.
Day 1: Joffre Shoulder
After grabbing my partners in crime (thanks Mike and Nick) from Vancouver we blasted to poke around and see what mother nature had brought to this touring mecca. We definitely weren’t the only ones thinking about skiing this weekend! There must have been 10+ cars at each major trail head. Pulling up to the Cayoosh parking lot and seeing 20+ people milling around, my stoke was tempered even further. Fortunately most of them decided to head into Cayoosh, where as we had planned to check out the timber of Joffre Shoulder.
We saw early season conditions with minimal snow coverage below 1500m, thankfully though it improved dramatically as we hit our high point at 1900m. After ripping a short shot through the upper trees we were greeted with 30cms of fluff over a supportive base. Pretty good conditions considering the current state of terrain below.
After a first run we decided to dig around and see what was going on in the snowpack before we decided our next move. Here is what we found: At 1750m, NE facing, 30cms of 4F storm snow, CP Moderate results at 70cm on surface hoar layer.
It was enough to tell us that we weren’t going to venture into big open terrain with a lot of overhead exposure. After about 300m of survival skiing down low, we finally made it out to the trailhead for our first real full day tour of the new year!
Day 2: Channel Creek
The conditions looked variable with rising freezing levels and after our intel from Saturday we knew we would be hard pressed to find amazing skiing. We set our sights on Channel Creek for some exploration. This is an area that I have looked at a few times and was waiting for the right time to venture there. The closer we got the more thin the snowpack looked. After about an hour and 3kms it was clear that going further wouldn’t make sense. This side of the mountains get considerably less snow and a later season mission would be prudent. We managed to get a peak at the skiing and it does look promising!