4 - 5
FATMAP difficulty grade
A Duffy mega classic, and for good reason.
It ticks all the boxes for a great ski tour: Easy skinning? Check Great views? Check Options for poor weather? Check Opportunities to avoid avalanche terrain? Check Heart Strings is a go-to mid-winter ski day for many keen Duffy tourers, and it makes a good option for someone’s first ever winter trip to the Duffy. In some ways it’s a victim of its own success however, as it is one of the busiest zones in the Duffy.
Catch it mid week on a good snow day thou and it will easily live up to its reputation. The route is moderately simple, with just a few decision points here and there. Start by parking at the signposted Joffre Lakes Parking lot.
On a busy day you may have to use one of the overflow lots on the opposite side of the highway. The route starts by crossing the first lake, and then picking up the well maintained summer trail on the far side. Follow the summer trail as far as the second (middle lake).
Here is your first decision: you can either take the shorter but steeper route through the pillow field on the lookers right of the lake, or you can take the longer, wider route, up to the 3rd lake and then double back.
The GPS track provided is for the shorter, steeper route. About 200 vertical meters above the middle lake you will join an obvious bench that swings back to the west.
This bench is easy skinning and takes you the majority of the way to the top. There is one more decision to make just before the high point.
The descent route begins on a narrow ridge.
To gain this ridge there are 2 options.
One can either boot pack (approx 50 vertical meters) up one of the steep gullies, or you can keep your skins on traverse east (climbers left) to join the ridge further over.
This is slightly quicker in good conditions, and avoids boot packing, but the skinning is quite steep. Once on the ridge enjoy the views and then work your way further west along the ridge (there are a few steep rolls) until you find the obvious rock spires that guard the entrance of the run. Heart strings has an excellent fall line with lots of fun features on the way down.
Trend skiers left on the lower half to catch the majority of the more open pillow fields. Once you are back in the trees trend right to join back up with the summer trail/up track. DO NOT skin back up the main face of Heart Strings.
It’s bad etiquette and bad risk management.