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Large landslide on Joffre Peak north of Pemberton puts backcountry access in jeopardy

Last Updated May 14, 2019 at 10:54 am PST

Photo shows the back side of Joffre Peak north of Pemberton before and after a massive landslide on Monday. (Credit: B.C. government (left)/Lee Lau (right))

PEMBERTON (NEWS 1130) – No one was hurt when tonnes of rock, dirt, ice and trees came down into Cerise Creek on the back side of Joffre Peak north of Pemberton at 7:41 Monday morning.

The extremely popular Joffre Lakes trail is on the other side of the mountain and was not impacted.

Natural Resources Canada earthquake seismologist John Cassidy confirms the rumbling was picked up by earthquake instruments as far as 300 kilometres away.

“It was well recorded in Whistler, Lillooet and even Vancouver Island,” he says.

Provincial staff will be on site to assess the damage in the coming days and the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development says there were no vehicles observed at the parking lot to access the valley.

Highway 99 Duffey Lake was not impacted or threatened. (Credit: B.C. Government)

Access denied

Steve Jones, an advocate for increased funding to B.C. parks says he doesn’t expect the two trails damaged by the incident to be repaired anytime soon.

“By the looks of the pictures it must have been seriously damaged and it may be quite dangerous for some time because the flow is kind of a combination of dirt and large rocks and perhaps some glacial ice and trees and forest,” he says.

On top of that the area in question is part of a conservancy but has no up to date management plan.

Jones hopes the province will allocate some sort of emergency fund to either build new trails in neighbouring valleys or to beef up maintenance on nearby trails he worries will see increased traffic.

“Anytime there’s a trail lost in the system it’s going to have a knock-on impact. People are now going to go to other trails which are very overcrowded … so this is a serious problem as we head into hiking season with the loss of another major trail in the system,” says Jones.

He points out the closest alternative trail to the access routes that are impacted is the Joffre Lakes Trail which has been the centre of controversy regarding how B.C. manages tourism and a growing interest in hiking.