Mount Chief Pascall
January 10, 2016
Pemberton / Duffey Lake Road, BC
Mt. Chief Pascall, the northernmost summit in Joffre Group, is more like a “baby” comparing to the nearby giants, although fairly impressively looking from Duffey Lake Road. It does boast some good skiing routes on the north slopes in good condition so after a tiring ascent of Slalok’s North Face Alex, Ben and myself figured it’s the time to eventually knock this peak off our list. They had been wishing to do this one on skis for a long while but given the shortness of the ascent it wasn’t easy to justify the long drive. We car-camped at the parking lot and that wasn’t a pleasant experience. The night was cold and the morning was very miserable packing all the wet gears. Fight the temptation of being lazy was tough but we did manage to get going by a reasonable time.
We followed a set of skin tracks down and across Cayoosh Creek on a good log, then up the other side for a while until intersecting the old logging road. The next hour or so was spent skinning up this logging road due east and the place we aimed at was the direct avalanche path of the north bowl. The road had at least 15-20 major ditches which were fun to cross initially, but got tedious soon. The path wasn’t easy to locate even with the help of GPS, but we did spot a set of down-tracks so followed them into the forest. There was some dense bushwhacking for a while but the terrain opened up soon. But then we lost the tracks somehow so just picked our own route through the forest. Another hour or so later we came across the skin tracks just below the NW Ridge.
We easily followed the skin tracks to the NW Ridge and then followed the ridge up. There’s one steep section that we overcame by a few tight switchbacks then we were on the first summit. The true summit appeared blocky with lots of boulders poking through so most skiers didn’t bother to ascend. That’s unacceptable to us though so we skin’d up for as far as we could before boot-packing the rest.
The boot-packing was a little bit arduous but not too bad in general. We didn’t discover many deep holes (although there were a few). The true true summit was one big boulder that involved a strenuous move to climb with a bit of exposure down the north side. Another summit boulder at about 20 m down the ridge appeared to have the same height but since I’d read Simon’s trip report on ClubTread I knew we didn’t have to traverse there (which was good as the ridge looked fairly difficult in winter conditions).
The views were pretty good but unfortunately the North Face of Joffre Peak was directly under the sunbeam so we didn’t get a good lighting for that one, but that’s acceptable. Boot-packing down the slope was surely easier as we just plunged down the snow (discovering more holes though). And then it’s time to ski off the north bowl. The snow condition was a lot better than on Slalok and I could make lots of easy turns on the powder. Lower down I had to pay extra attention to avoid the icy bumps created by the previous skiers but still pretty decent. The tree skiing was fun initially but got challenging near the bottom, but at least short-lived, and then it came the final tedious 1-hour slog back along the logging road.
Now it’s time to drive home. Unfortunately we once again timed ourselves badly. We came through Whistler by around 4:30 pm and that’s horrible for the traffics, but at least I was not driving this time… Overall this was a great weekend spent on the Duffey. The views were super good but felt a bit monotonous given the number of trips I did in the same area in a roll, but I can’t complain about the bluebird weather. I do have to say that the weather forecast screwed up once again. Had we known it’s a definite bluebird weekend then I should say that the N. Face of Slalok + Chief Pascall felt a bit lack of ambition and we should have knocked a major one off Squamish’s skyline, but oh well…