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If you continue to the summit be The Col to the West Lionprepared for a four metre rope descent.  The ropes are there, fixed to a tree above, but are alarmingly worn.  If you have ropes, you may want to bring them for this part.  After this, you will cross the narrow col connecting to the West Lion.  This very narrow approach has stunning views of Howe Sound framed by cliffs on either side(pictured here).

This begins the difficult, class 3 section.  Easy if you are a seasoned climber, though very difficult if you are an average hiker.  Keep in mind that going up is not too challenging, however, climbing down is tricky and dangerous.  Clinging to narrow rocks and ledges you have to make your way around the right hand side of the steep West Lion.  This section is so dangerous that there are permanent ropes fixed in places to prevent you falling several dozens of metres if you lost your grip.  There is one section of rope now missing which is a bit unsettling.

The Final Ascent of the West LionThe East Lion summit is in the watershed area and is forbidden to climb.  The West Lion is just outside the watershed and climbable.  It is however, quite difficult and the wet and cloudy climate make it somewhat dangerous.  In September 2006 two climbers after reaching the West Lion Summit and smoking celebratory cigars began their descent.  Unfortunately the all-too-common fog of Vancouver had engulfed the mountain and they lost the trail.  They reportedly attempted to climb back to the summit and find the ascent trail again, however, at a free climb of a small cliff one of the hikers fell 100 metres to his death.  A combination of fog, wet and loose rock holds caused this tragedy.

The beautifully visible twin peaks of the Lions were known by the Indigenous Peoples of this part of the world as The Sisters.  They are still considered sacred as they are a legal marker of a past peace treaty that ended a war between the Squamish and the Haida tribes.  In more recent times they have inspired the naming of the Lions Gate Bridge and the BC Lions football team.

The West Lion Summit View of Howe Sound

The Lions Binkert Trail Map to the West Lion

 

Joffre Lakes Provincial Park in June

Joffre Lakes Provincial Park - Vancouver Trails in June


Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is home to three of the most surreal coloured lakes you are likely to ever see.  The three lakes are impossibly turquoise in colour and they get progressively more stunning from the first to the third.  By the third lake the intense colour is breathtaking and the surrounding cliffs and glaciers make this a mountain paradise with few rivals.  The mighty Matier Glacier rises above the third lake and you can easily hike up to its crumbling edge.

The Joffre Lakes Provincial Park trail is rough and tricky in some parts, but not terribly difficult.  The trail is a little over 5 kilometres to the third lake, so Joffre Lakes - Vancouver Trails in Junegive yourself 1.5 - 2.5 hours(one way).  Lots of trail construction work happened in 2013 and 2014, as a new section of trail was built just before the third(Upper Joffre) lake, as well as quite a few large sections of new and upgraded sections.

The second Joffre lake is about 45 minutes into the hike and is very beautiful.  The bright, unnatural looking turquoise colour is breathtaking.  This is a great place to stop for a rest and take in the view.  The resident birds immediately swoop on you if you have any food and will even land on your arm if invited.

You should be able to reach the third and fantastically turquoise third Joffre lake in about 1.5 to 2 hours (from the trailhead).  The third lake has several nice, though very rugged places to put up a tent.  Most tend to set up camp in between the beautiful third Joffre lake and the monstrously beautiful Matier Glacier.  A beautiful waterfall descends from the steep rocks above the lake.

At the third Joffre Lake, there are several nice, though rugged places to camp.  In a hilly, lightly forested section of paradise in between the impossibly turquoise Joffre Lake and the abruptly monstrous Matier Glacier descending from Mount Matier beyond.  A waterfall cascades near the camping area.  The campsite has one nice and well maintained outhouse.

Joffre Lakes Aerial Video

You will notice several clearings for tents in the gravel and boulder strewn landscape(see the map below).  Each one barely enough room for a tent, but the ruggedness adds to the beauty of Joffre Lakes.  The park is wonderfully untouched by people.  With the exception of the trail, some signs, outhouse and bridges, Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is beautifully wild and picturesque.  There is also a prominent helicopter pad close by as a reminder of how many injuries occur on the trail and the accessible mountains and Joffre Lakes - Vancouver Trails in Juneglaciers around.  There are in fact four distinct glaciers close by, Matier, Anniversary, Stonecrop and Tszil.  Beyond Mount Matier there are two more, Twin One and Hartzell.

In early June you often encounter some snow and a blanket of snow at the third Joffre Lakes campsite.  In 2015, however, the snow was well above the campsite in May, leaving only the lake bitterly cold.  There is an outhouse near the campsite and excellent water flowing through the area. The ground is very rocky though, so pack an extra sleeping pad if you intend on camping.  The area, despite its remoteness gets busy most summer nights and certainly summer weekends.  But in June stays fairly quiet, and most weeknights in June you will have Joffre Lakes Provincial Park all to yourself under the stars.

The Joffre Lakes trail is surprisingly busy most of the summer, which is a testament to how extraordinarily beautiful, and relatively easy the hike is.  Unlike Wedgemount Lake, Black Tusk or Cirque Lake, which are to difficult for many hikers, Joffre Lakes is comparatively easy and certainly relaxing.  Many hikes in the nearby Garibaldi Park are not family friendly and easy, but Joffre Lakes is.  Certainly the scenic drive to the trailhead from Whistler is part of the fun.

Joffre Lakes Provincial Park Map

Joffre Lakes Aerial Views

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