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On the bottom third of the Couloir

Big BC Lines : Steep Skiing on Duffey Lake Road

A collection of the most challenging Duffey Lake Road descents easily accessible from Highway 99

Ski Touring Difficult, Severe

On the bottom third of the Couloir
On the bottom third of the Couloir Photo: Tam McTavish


The mountains surrounding Pemberton’s Duffey Lake offer some of the best ski mountaineering terrain in South Western BC. Due to its inland position, the Duffey has more of an inter-continental snowpack. Despite receiving less precipitation than locations further south, the quality of the snow is unmatched in the region - bottomless days riding champagne powder are common here. Couple that with easy access and huge vertical relief and you have a recipe for ski touring success!

Situated at the northern end of the Sea 2 Sky corridor, Duffey Lake Road is the name of a particular section of Highway 99. Starting at Lillooet Lake, about 20km east of Pemberton, the pass climbs to an average of 1200m elevation above sea level. It weaves its way past Cayoosh Mountain, Slalok Mountain, Joffre Peak and Mt Matier before skirting the south shores of Duffey Lake. Driving up from Vancouver to the trailhead in winter is going to take around 3 hours, and leaving from Whistler will take just over an hour.

This guidebook includes advanced and expert routes and is aimed at experienced ski tourers. With sustained steep descents ranging from 40-50 degrees you will need to keep a close eye on snow conditions and stability in order to be successful. Most of the descents on this list include complex glacier travel and require varying levels of mountaineering ability. At minimum, expect a steep boot pack to access your descent and, depending on conditions, you may need a rope to rappel into some of these lines. These are by no means the only challenging routes in this incredible zone, but they are a selection of the most popular options. All routes described are doable in one day from the highway.

Once you have tackled a few of these classics you may want to check out other similar guidebooks for the region, such as ‘Steep Skiing in the Spearhead Range’.

Routes included

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