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2 massive landslides on Joffre Peak change the face of the backcountry destination



Two significant landslides sent rocks and debris that stumble down Joffre Peak this week and leave a sharp slash on the mountain visible from Highway 99 northeast of Pemberton, B.C.

The area about 180 kilometers northeast of Vancouver is popular with backcountry skiers, mountaineers and other outdoor enthusiasts.

No one was hurt in the pictures, something Brent Ward, co-director of the Center for Natural Hazards Research at Simon Fraser University, manages to happiness more than anything else.

"These huge landslides can be disastrous," he said.

"If this had happened later in the summer, when there are a lot of people on the tracks, we would have had deaths."

Slash on the side of Joffre Peak is visible from Highway 99 northeast of Pemberton, B.C. (Gen Carmody / Facebook)

Warmer weather causes images

The first picture took place on Monday morning around 7:40 am, according to B.C. Parks. Rubbish stretched up to 850 meters wide and traveled about 5.2 kilometers.

The second picture, on Thursday morning, slipped the same side of the mountain.

Ward said the weather pattern is one of the reasons.

A photo of Joffre Peak taken on April 20 before the photo. Outdoors enthusiastically and photographer Steve Jones marked roughly where the slides occurred: the red area shows the first image and the green area indicates the second image. (Photo and graphics by Steve Jones)

Alpine permafrost helps to keep stones in place, he says, and as it melts, the stones become more susceptible to landslides.

"Remember the hot weather we had last week?" Ward said.

"The hot weather melts snow lying on the mountain which then accumulates in the rock's fractures. It is actually what triggered the landslide."

Nicholas Zichy, a self-described mountain enthusiast, drove to Joffre Peak to see how the mountain looked when he heard about the first landslide of the week – he captured this photo on the mountain on Thursday night after the second photo had taken place. (Nicholas Zichy)

The aftermath of the pictures

Photos of the aftermath of the images circulated on social media, with many in outdoor environments expressing surprise and anxiety on the scale of the rail.

"The community only cares about this area – it's a huge, impressive geological event in an area where there are a lot of mountain enthusiasts," says Nicholas Zichy, who knows the area well and captured some pictures of pictures.

The first picture, on Monday, traveled more than five kilometers and was between 500 and 850 meters wide. (Province of British Columbia)

Several backcountry ski routes, such as Twisting Couloir and Central Couloir, were washed away in the slide.

"There is a lot of sorrow in society with many [ski] lines shut down, Zichy said.

The Cerise Creek Trail to Keith's Hut is closed due to damage from the slide and the B.C. Parker has also closed Nlháxten / Cerise Creek Conservancy due to security issues.

Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, a popular hiking and walking-in campsite, was not affected.

A trail of debris is visible down the mountain. (David Safarik)

"There is an ongoing assessment," says Sarah Morgan, program director of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District District.

"For the backcountry and the skiing community, they are obviously very interested in how this will change the recreational opportunities."

BC. The park's staff still evaluate the extent of the damage.


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