Saturday, March 27, 2010

Spearhead Traverse

The Spearhead Traverse is British Columbia's most popular Ski Traverse. For 35km skiers are treated to magnificent views, and great skiing while maintaining an elevation of more than 2000m. It follows the Spearhead and Fitzimons Ranges and connects Whistler and Blackcomb without taking the Peak to Peak The trip is possible in a long long day however making it a two or three day jaunt makes it much more enjoyable for us mere mortals. Many photo credits to Mike Conlon and Kyle Eckhardt 

This same group had planned the trip in 2009 but were thwarted by a less than average snowpack and the sudden onset of spring. This was certainly not the case in 2010 as  Whistler Blackcomb was reporting their second snowiest year on record. We waited for three sunny says and finally got them at the end of march. With parking at a premium still because of the Olympics we had to take the bus to the start, one of the amazing things about the spearhead is the ease of access. 
Taking the bus to the ski traverse
Skins off for the first time, East Col
Day one was fabulous, with sunny skies and perfect temperatures to keep us cool on the way up but warm enough that we were not freezing. Day one consisted of five climbs: 1. East Col, 2. Mt Decker, 3. Trorey Glacier, 4. Tremor Glacier, 5 Platform Glacier. A few of us did a little side trip to the top of Mt Tremor 2691m, the highest mountain on the traverse. The best ski of the day was on the back side of Patison where deep fluffy dry powder waited for us. SUnny long days in March have the habit of bringing others out into the Mountains, we ran into a few other groups out there including some Italians, simply loving the Coast, a group skiing Macbeth on a long day trip.
Slide from Cornice failure between Decker and Trorey. 
All smiles

Kyle ripping it up at wide angle
Long climb up Tremor Glacier
Crevasses on the Fitzimons Glacier
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Jay on top of Mt Tremor, the peak of Whistler is 500m below!
What an amazing evening camping at elevation on the Platform Glacier and watching the sunset over Whistler. We set up camp cooked some dehydrated meals and tried to stay warm. The Halo around the sun is warning of precipitation in the coming days, which in the Coast Mountains ins't really saying much. Three season tents were sufficient for the minus 5 temps although we were blessed not to have any wind.
Camp for night one. 
Sunset over Whistler, not a bad evening. 
Camp on the Platform Glacier
Packing up in the morning always takes way longer than you think it will. This combined with everyone wanting to stay in their sleeping bags as long as possible after a poor nights sleep and to enjoy the cold and you have a recipe for a later start. It was a gorgeous morning again but some high cloud was a good sign that a front that was forecasted might come through a bit earlier than expected. We were on the back half of the Traverse at this point and in very unfamiliar but stuningly beautiful landscapes. We skied across the Ripshaw and Naden Glaciers and down the Macbeth Glacier before bootpacking along the ridge to reach the east drainage of Iago. Iago  is full of crevasses and we discussed roping up, eventually deciding against it. The decent of the Diavolio gl was a little mushy due to sun exposure. The climb up the Diavolo was a long one before traversing above the  dangerous looking Fitzimons gl and around Overlaod Mtn to the Overloard gl and around Fissile Peak. We were in more familiar territory and I decided that I should head out Singing Pass Trail to meet up with my friend Mark for his going away party. A great first Spearhead!

Our route
Bootpack Ridge
Probing for Crevasses on the Iago GL
Above the Fitzimons Glacier, below Overloard Mtn. 
Beside Fissile Peak

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