7 - 8
FATMAP difficulty grade
The NW Face of Mt.
Matier is a classic in Coastal ski mountaineering.
You get an interesting ridge climb with a bit of easy rock scrambling followed by a massive descent down the imposing NW Face. Approach via the Joffre Lakes Trail to the Third Lake.
You can gain the Matier Glacier by climbing the left or right side of the icefall but most parties go left.
Be aware of avalanche conditions! Ascend the lateral moraine until forced to boot up under the rocks along the glacier icefall.
See the Stonecrop Face route for the right side option. From the Matier Glacier, head towards the Joffre-Matier Col (also called Anniversary Col) and start climbing slopes below the NE Ridge.
Most parties switch from skinning to booting part way up these slopes as they get steep and you start to feel the exposure above the cliffs below.
You may find yourself negotiating through a rock band to break onto the ridge crest depending on snow levels but the difficulties should never be great.
Crampons and an ice axe are a must for the windswept ridge and some parties may employ a rope. The summit offers fantastic views of the entire range but a short down climb is required to reach the face.
Many parties use a rope to belay this portion but there are no fixed anchors so some creativity may be required.
Alternatively, down climb carefully above the big East Face. Reach a notch and the NW Face becomes obvious.
A pillow of windslab may form at the top so a belayed ski cut may be wise.
Look for the bergschrund at the bottom of the face in early/late season. The smooth nature of the underlying glacier ice on the face has in recent years acted as a bed surface for major climax avalanches in the spring.
When the weather starts getting warm, this is a face to avoid.
Late winter and early spring on cold days when stability is good are the best time to ski the NW Face.