Our thoughts go out to the friends and families of the three climbers who reportedly fell to their deaths on Mount Joffre, off the Duffey Lakes Highway north of Pemberton, on Sunday. Details are sketchy at this point in time, and there’s even some confusion as to whether it’s the Central Couloir (on the north face) or the Aussie Couloir (on the south). But it does sound as if the accident occurred in the Central Couloir.
It doesn’t sound as if the victims, a married couple from the Lower Mainland and a woman believed to be visiting of Germany, intended to ski the couloir. From all reports, they were geared up with ice-axes and crampons, pushing for the summit of Mount Joffre. According to the CBC’s report on the story, RCMP Staff Sergeant Steve LeClair “said the three hikers were all roped together and were near the top of the couloir when they fell about about 600 metres to their deaths.”
The Central Couloir is a classic ski descent in the Coast Range and anyone who’s tackled it will tell you what a daunting piece of terrain it is. Very few (if any) parties who ski the line will top out and ski from the summit, which is often guarded by a cornice that can span more than 100 feet. And the final push to the summit is up an oft-impassable headwall of rime, rock, ice and rotten snow.
A member of the Biglines community, Ian Holmes, actually attempted to snowboard the Central Couloir the day before the accident. He and his partner “climbed the majority of the couloir, but after the snow turned to cement we chose to down climb as opposed to ride down.”
Holmes, like many people who are currently in the Whistler area, are fielding a lot of correspondence from friends and family concerned about the well-being of their extended ski-mountaineering family. Ian actually put a post on facebook to clear up any confusion.
But unfortunately for those close to these three victims, the news of this accident will shake them with unspeakable grief. Our thoughts are with them. As are they with the ones who aren’t with us anymore.
Stay safe out there everyone…
Here’s the link to the CBC story: http://www.cbc.ca/m/news/canada/british-columbia/3-climbers-bodies-recovered-from-joffre-peak-north-of-pemberton-1.2897879
We’ll keep you updated as we know more…