Mount Joffre

Photo of Mount Joffre

Photo by an anonymous user

Details

Elevation (feet): 11,316
Elevation (meters): 3,449
Continent: North America
Country: Canada
Range/Region: Canadian Rockies
Province: Alberta/British Columbia
Latitude: 50.527942
Longitude: -115.207443
Difficulty: Technical Climb
Year first climbed: 1919
First successful climber(s): J.W. Hickson, E. Feuz
Nearest major airport: Calgary, Alberta
Convenient Center: Canmore, Alberta

Thanks to Dow Williams for adding this peak.

Description

You have heard me vary from the published books before regarding routes. This mountain is no exception. Take notes off the Internet, from summit logs, etc. The notes in The Selected Alpine Book cost me unnecessary hours in 2004. When you get to the gravel flats, cross over at a southwesterly angle and you will see Joffre on the right and Petain on the left, their views split by a protruding rock summit. This phenomenon makes it look like one and the same mountain. At this point, you want to make an angled elevated bee line for Joffre on the right. Ascend snow slopes, intermittent with rock croppings.

You will top out over a glacier lake, move right around this lake and continue straight south for Joffre. Again, varying from the book tremendously, I recommend gaining a glacier ridge on the upper left side of the glacier and head straight for the lower left face. Here is where you have the choice of ascending the ridge via an ice/snow/rock gully on your left or heading straight up the North Face angling all the way to the right. Point avalanches take off below the summit rock buttresses, so the safest (and of course full of strong winds) route is the right side of the face. I used two axes at the steepest sections where I ran into intermittent ice.

The summit is amazing of course, Assiniboine to the north, a huge perfect white sheet of the Petain Glacier to the south. This is (if you scramble at all in the Rockies, you are more than familiar with Joffre's unusual broad summit) a broad snow-ice summit with some rock exposed on the south side.

Again, varying from the book considerably, if one ascends the north face, I believe the ridge should be avoided for descent and chose myself to glissade down the north face. I say this as it is difficult to descend something technical, when you never ascended it. And in early conditions, the gully to the ridge looked rather technical. The argument towards not descending the north face of course, is that you must be extremely confident in your self arrest capabilities. I made a quick descent all the way back to camp on the east side of Aster Lake. Because Selected Alpine Climbs recommends ascending the center of the Glacier, my entire route this day basically took me to every corner of the Mangin Glacier. Route finding skills are always essential in solo glacier travel and of course I would never recommend anyone traveling on a glacier solo. Just because I chose to do so this day, by no means makes it a safe consideration. The hike back out of camp the next day took us 4 hours.

Thanks to Dow Williams for this description.