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North Joffre Creek Horseshoe
Timestamp Free: 2020.09.23 - 23:16:38
Ranges: Place Glacier Group
  (2 days)     Elevation Gain: 2200m
Participants: Scott Nelson, Sandra Nicol
Difficulty: 4: Steep sections throughout to about 40 degrees, including a short boot pack over the 8000ft subpeak of cirque. This route can only be recommended in times of good snowpack stability due to avalanche hazard.
A quick trip around the North Joffre Creek Horseshoe in so-so weather. We encountered whiteout conditions on 2 of the 3 high points on the route.
I'd been defeated on this trip a couple times in the past, but this time the snow conditions were in our favour. With ski crampons we made quick work of the steep climb to Cassiope Lake, then up into the fog towards the Cassiope - Saxifrage col. We reached the col East of Saxifrage in a complete whiteout and descended according to the instructions on bivouac.com. There was not cornice, but we had to descend over a gradual convex roll into unknown territory which was very unnerving. From the col, we traversed to skier's right to reach a fairly obvious bench that was identified as an "island of safety". We found it to be littered with cornice fall debris, so we didn't linger long. From there we traversed back to skiers left to avoid convexities (and to be able to see the slope) and then down the main part of the glacier. In hindsight, a more direct descent from the bench (or from the col) would have been fine as well, if it were not for the flat light. Fortunately we quickly dropped below the clouds and I had a nice ski down to the valley below. Sandra was still really nervous about the visibility, so she left her skins on. The next section was a climb up into another fork of Spetch creek through really interesting terrain. The weather was clearing up, and we decided to continue over the pass to the Place Glacier while the visibility was good.

The high col between Oleg and Olds has a short steep climb up from the south. We went up what looked like the easiest way on the south side (slightly closer to Olds than Oleg), but at that point the north side was also steep and heavily corniced. After a little looking around, we took our skis off and walked the ridge towards Oleg to a much gentler area, where we had a nice run down to the Place Glacier keeping to the skier's...

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