A technically challenging couloir further off the beaten track

Statistics

1

day +

1,591

m

1,591

m

39

max┬░

Difficulty

FATMAP difficulty grade

Severe

Description

Duke Couloir is a steep, narrow chute located on the north face of Mt Duke, south of Duffey Lake Road.

Its long approach means that it doesn't get skied as much as some other steep lines in the region.

The crux of the tour is safely accessing the couloir over a looming cornice.

This will test your technical rope and anchor building skills, as well as your steep skiing ability.

Parking is located 25km from the yellow avalanche closure gate at the start of Duffey Lake Road, just above Lillooet lake.

The pull out is usually plowed and sits on the south side of the highway, level with the western tip of Duffey Lake itself.

This is not to be confused with the access to Van Horlick Creek service road, which is located just 1km further to the east.

After leaving the car you will be heading south-west on the Caspar Creek service road.

After 1.9km you will come to a fork.

Take the left spur and continue for another 4km.

Once you get to 1450m trend right and head south-west through the forest, following the drainage with Vantage Pk to the north and Mount Duke to the south.

As you skin up and out of the tree line you will pass a small alpine lake at around 1780m elevation.

From here, follow the broad slopes up to the Duke-Vantage col. To access the couloir you will have to ascend the north shoulder of Mount Duke, which is often wind scoured.

Boot crampons may be helpful to pass a tricky step of mixed snow and rock depending on conditions.

The entrance to the line is at 2200m and is usually guarded by a large cornice.

This is a significant hazard and you will need to construct some form of snow anchor from which to rappel into the line.

Parties have used stakes, snow bollards and even wooden planks as anchors in the past.

Just remember that whatever you use will not be retrievable unless you want to re-ascend the shoulder after skiing the chute.

The skiing itself is steep and narrow, eventually funnelling down towards the lake you passed on the way up.

To maximise the day and get a few more turns you may choose to recycle your skin track back up to the col.

This time however, head north from the col, up towards Vantage Peak.

There is some good skiing on the east face that will bring you back down towards the tree line where you can follow your skin track back to the road.