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post #1 of (permalink) Old 07-17-2017, 08:18 PM Thread Starter
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Default Slalok & Tzsil

July 16, 2017 Slalok & Tzsil

Slalok is a mountain I have been waiting/wanting to do for a long time - a first attempt was made a couple of years ago but we were hit by a snow storm on Tzsil and had complete white out conditions forcing us to retreat. This time around it didn't start off much different, as it rained all morning in Pemberton, hailed and snowed in the middle of July! But this time we got our summit.

We brought everything required to make this trip a success not knowing what we would face along the way (ice axes, mountaineering crampons, pickets, 30m rope, harness, carabiners, glacier rescue gear, slings, prusiks, rappel gear etc). We used everything except the pickets.

We started at the Joffee Lakes parking lot and immediately put on the Goretex. It was raining hard and a number of people were coming down looking like wet miserable cold rats that spent a sleepless night getting hailed on. In my head I reaffirmed why I like doing day trips - don't care if they're long, as long as I have a warm comfy bed afterwards. Both Rob and I felt so dainty and light in contrast to the Thursday attempt of Mount Garibaldi and having to haul 50lb packs. The waterfall was running well!

By 9am we were at the third lake looking up to scout our route. That proved impossible since the clouds ate the mountain. We went to the campground bathroom but couldn't tell where we were supposed to start for the then intended direct "couloir" boot pack up. So we moved towards the trail sign post and started up what we remembered as the way to Tzsil thinking we could still connect it somewhere. We abandoned our plans when we realized the route was somewhere back by the lake and made the call to go up the classic route described in the scrambles route.

The first time we did this route we went up the moraine ridge but this time we stayed low and on the snow, it was so much better. We kept looking up at the snow gullies wondering which ones went and which one didn't but we didn't know anything for sure so again we chose the known route up Tzsil. We found a fascinating snow feature that looked like giant melted car tracks in the snow.

There is still snow at the top but it's totally doable with boots and poles.

We were at the Tzsil/Taylor col quickly enough and then moved along the heather slopes and rocky benches. Most of the cairns survived the winter it seems and we only touched snow a couple of times. Along the way we found what I think are "wolf prints"? If anyone else has a guess please let me know...I thought Lynx or Bobcat but these had claw marks.


We sat on the summit of Tzsil and had a lunch break and a nap. Slalok was still socked in so we waited to see if the weather would improve - I was doubtful we would summit. Then after speaking to the mountain, yes, you read right, and offering Thomas Haas Chocolates as payment for safe passage the clouds parted at 12:30pm and gave us our first glimpse of the route! Woot Woot Mountain offerings work.

We started moving slowly and cautiously. The big black boulders covered in lichens were slimy and not to be trusted. Our movement could only be described as an awkward modern dance in mountaineering boots - hardly graceful, sometimes the arms went flailing, and there were weird body twists and turns to keep balance. Along the way we delighted in the bright fuchsia mountain flowers (Moss Champion/Cushion Pink).

First one descends off of Tzsil, straight forward to the col. Then you ascend the boulders and benches of Slalok working your way along sometimes finding cairns for affirmation of your route choice. The boulders are mostly good and don't move too much. Eventually as you move along at around 2590m you'll see a headwall that starts to look a bit more like climbing. We moved along it left and right trying to spot the best way up and didn't trust much because the rocks were still wet. Eventually I committed to a high step under cling move which I knew wasn't really going to be feasible as a down climb - thus why we brought the rope.


Once off the first crux you reach the sub-summit, work your way along more of the ridge and hit two more obstacles - a snow patch and another exposed moved to the true summit. For the sketchy snow patch we did a body belay across and plunged our ice axes deep into the snow. We had a foot ledge only the width of the ball of your foot with a thousand foot drop (good thing we were facing the snow).

The final corner is a three step high step with exposure that was again wet but we could wedge our feet well into the crack and the right side offered good hand holds. We did not return this way and rappelled off a boulder beside it to clear this section on the return. The available steps were just too far away about 6-8ft for footholds. Perhaps if there wasn't exposure below one might be willing to just jump down but we weren't going to do that with slick wet rock.

The summit was had a last We stood around, took pictures, looked at the routes up, the routes down, looked at a climbing team coming off Matier and enjoyed the stunning view of the three teal blue lakes below. We also finally figured out where the boot pack trail straight up to Slalok was since we saw old tracks.


We left the summit and rappel the crux, body belayed across the snow again and worked our way towards the first crux. There we found a nice sling and decided to use it and rappel off instead of the down climb. I'm sure it's doable by better climbers but we weren't gonna risk slipping on wet rock.

Slalok/Tzsil col. We figured out from above that we could travel the glacier and that it looked pretty safe and would speed up our descent instead of climbing up Tzsil again. So we geared up and went for it. The glacier had only a few small crevasses starting to open up and was, from what I could tell, mostly harmless if you avoided the obvious convexities.

Back at the lakes in time for mosquito dinner. Oh my gosh did they swarm!!! We just about ran out of there still in full Goretex so they wouldn't get us. We saw people still coming up, boom boxes and all, joints, swim suits, drones, basically all the usual.

Back the car and happy to be out of the boots we indulged in a spread of exotic fruits (mangoes, papayas, cherries, blueberries, and guava) on ice. We felt really good after our day and felt all our mountain skills got put to good use. I'd say this is an excellent scramble but definitely difficult with some 4th/5th moves at the cruxes. If you get bad weather, have wet rock, or simply don't have 7 foot legs, bring a rope and a friend

Trip Stats
Cumulative Ascent: 1846m (6,060ft)
Time Up: 7hrs
Time Down: 5hrs
Distance: 17.5km
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 07-18-2017, 02:58 PM
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Shame that the area's a zoo even on weekdays. At least you can distract yourself by playing "spot the unprepared hiker" on the trail! I haven't been up Slalok but Tzsil is a fun scramble.

Semper fudge
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 07-20-2017, 04:14 PM
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Thanks for the report. Dorothy and I had been planning on going up there and climbing the Stonecrop Face & descentding the West Ridge this weekend if the weather permits. That scramble is definitely exciting Alpine Select calls it class 3 but it's pretty hair raising.
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 07-21-2017, 09:49 PM Thread Starter
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Class 3? Lol...my left foot!
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 07-22-2017, 01:22 AM
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Best view of all three lakes I have ever seen, great shot.

The print looks very canine, with extruded claws. Mmmm, not sasquatch! ....Wolf, sure could be .... or ... wolverines have extruded claws too, and their paw prints often bunch togethet.... its perfect wolverine habitat.

Totally agree about day trips.... the backpack/tent/soaked/miserable thing lost its charm years ago

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post #6 of (permalink) Old 07-22-2017, 10:25 AM
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Well I guess Slalok is pretty cool. You shoulda come with us though!

My hiking career: a selfish pursuit or a pursuit of self?
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 07-26-2017, 06:32 PM
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It's always nice when you get up above those lakes away from the crowds. Way to be prepared for everything and that shot with you and the purple flower is a keeper.
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 07-26-2017, 11:13 PM Thread Starter
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I am still waiting for my "camel" trip I've had lotsa WTF trips
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