Brilliant day on the mountains... the well balanced, diverse group and the weather was superb.
Tszil is a peak south west of the third, uppermost Joffre Lake to the west of Slalok.
The parking lot was a skating rink... pure ice, so we all put our micro-spikes/mini-crampons on immediately as we all finalized our gearBC Peaks & Trails Hiking Group and packs. If you have never been up to the Joffre Lakes.. the trail is dead simple to follow around the first lake to the second... the first lake was mostly frozen and second lake was fully frozen on the north end with only a small area that was thawing out where the third lake drains into the second on its south end... we just stayed left of this and all was well... the summer trail runs along the east side of the lake... and from here it seems a good number of people head straight up the creek coming down from the third lake but we kept with the normal marked trail to the third lake.
The effort to reward ratio is very high on this hike (this area)...we were at the third lake carbing up and taking copious amounts of photos within 1hr 15min... be prepared to guard your food from the persistent Whiskey Jacks (read: annoying little opportunistic thieves ... I am not here to preach, but people need to &^%#% stop feeding the wildlife!) Phew ok.. so we decided the ice on third lake did not look as trustworthy and we circled back to the regular trail to continue our ascent to the moraine before the Tszil - Taylor col.
Easy going along here... I was breaking through the crust a little without snowshoes, but it was just a minor annoyance, not at all a hindrance to our pace. We did a bit of a traverse up the side of the moraine and walked the edge until the end where we were faced with a steep crusty slope requiring some solid kick steps and personal grit. Once you pass this section you rise up and over a bit of a bump and you can now see the full bowl below the col... we just angled slightly to the climbers left of center with only a few challenging sections that were solid ice. Mini-crampons or better recommended of course.
This is where it became more challenging... the conditions would change frequently from cutting steps in icy crust to kicking through the crust down to secondary crust about 4-8 cm deeper... the going was a little slow, but safe and fully enjoyable... we eventually came out on top after about 40 minutes. We were primarily on snow, not rock as I would imagine a summer ascent would afford. I would have preferred rock actually, but it was all good...
The peak offers an amazing close up view of Slalok and Taylor with panoramas north and south of dozens upon dozens of peaks, ridges and ranges... so much eye candy!! I hope the photos help convey the beauty of this area.
The return trip was our track in reverse with the exception that we took the bowl below Tszil down to connect with our track up just before we gained the moraine. There was anywhere from 0-30cm of windblown snow collected in various veins, but nothing really worthy of skiing imho.
Conditions: No snowshoes, crampons/mini-crampons and ice axe required.... There was one large level 3 avalanche debris pile below Slalok, but hard to estimate the age of it, could have been 1-4 days old? ... a large crown line with debris pile and a few smaller sluffs under Taylor... but otherwise the snow we were moving on was rock solid.
Have fun out there, stay safe and see you on the trails!