April 23-25, 2022
Skinning up the Showcase T-Bar at the start of the tour. Here we go!
This weekend is...
... my birthday weekend, and last year's birthday was... sort of a hot mess. So this year, I decided that I wanted to do something that was simply fun with friends who I simply loved! Enter the Spearhead traverse! The Spearhead is a U-shaped traverse that connects Blackcomb and Whistler mountains. I've been wanting to do this traverse for a while now, and a week before my birthday we realized it was lining up to be a perfect tour choice.
Dan and I reached out to our adventure buddies, Elle and Robin, and soon formed a strong crew to do this glacier traverse in three days. We landed on three days simply because we wanted to stay in the hut, which is close to the end on the Whistler side. Logistically, two days could have worked as well.
We drove up from Seattle, found parking, and walked on up to get our one-way lift ticket up Blackcomb. When you're at the resort, you can go to the help desk and get a single one-way lift ticket. Here, they check your gear (so have your beacon shovel probe ready) and you'll be all set to ride up.
We ended up going up Glacier Express, and then skinning up the Showcase T-Bar to get to the entrance of the Blackcomb Glacier. There was a good amount of people skinning up to Blackcomb! It made us a little nervous at the start, but once we got down and out of the Blackcomb Glacier and off towards the Decker Glacier, things quieted down.
Day one was a hot and cold day in terms of weather quality, and the snow was also variable, ranging from crust (not quite trap-crust) to decent snow on top of a harder packed layer. We traveled with our overnight packs until we could see the sun starting to dissapear, and made camp on the Tremor Glacier.
What most of the tour looked like - ups and downs in a beautiful range!
The crew! From L to R: Dan, Elle, Me, Robin.
The first night in camp was quite cold!
View from our camp on the Tremor Glacier - not too shabby!
Some of the ascents were too steep for skinning. Booting it was!
After a cold night on the Tremor Glacier, Dan and I decided to wake up early and try to ski off of the summit of Tremor, which happened to be the tallest peak along the traverse. The night had held some winds at the peaks and we found that it was a little too much exposed windboard for breakfast, and chose to just ski back down to camp to head out for the day.
Our day two consisted of ups and downs over mountain passes, and between skinning and solid booting (no crampons needed!) it went relatively fast. The two ominous sections of this traverse come as sort of a one-two punch. The first is the traverse on the N side of Benvolio. I'll say from a distance - this think looks gnar, and on a map it looks like nothing. Yet as many ski lines go, the closer you get the more realistic it looks. Our traverse of the space was a bit spooky with it being completely wind-swept and us beeing a little spooked by small wind slabs, but we made it across and were able to take a deep breath just above the Overlord Step.
Now, all of us here on the traverse are very comfortable with rope work, and we weren't necessarily worried about the rappelling, however the set-up and approach to the edge was what I was most nervous about. As we approached the edge, we found that the snow was built up so high above the bolts that access to the rap was quite spooky. Two of us gave it part of a go, and we decided that instead of setting up a system for someone to get down there safely, it would just be easier to ski the extra 500ft and climb back up to go around.
Warm hut, warm food, cold wine?! Sign me up!
Happy little beans post-tour. And yes, that is tailgate rose.
One of the steeper, more consequential descents. Trust yer edges!
Around we went and we soon found ourselves at the infamous Kees and Claire Hut. It being the end of the season, we had the hut mostly to ourselves, with the friendly wardens and two other parties. We enjoyed a warm salmon pesto pasta and some canned wine (had to be a birthday celebration!) and slept warm and cozy that stormy night.
The next day, we enjoyed freshie laps off of Flute Summit before it warmed up and scooted our way up and over Whistler mountain. It was wild to see the mountain closed off but still so full of snow! We pushed our way through wet mush, crossed the giant roads that the mountain plowed to get access to the mountain bike features that they were getting ready, and soon found ourselves back at the car.
All in all a FANTASTIC way to spend my birthday and a tour that I would do again in a heartbeat!
Total mileage of the weekend - 35 miles
Total elevation gain - 10,400ft
Total moving time - Around 19 hours
Max slope angle of the day - Around 40 degrees in a couple of sections. These sections are not avoidable.
Song that was stuck in my head all day - The theme song from Jurassic Park, ha! Don't ask, I don't know why... Specifically this part: https://youtu.be/lDlU08RU7Tk?t=97 (Insert dinosaur noises too)
Strava Day 1: https://www.strava.com/activities/7041825143
Strava Day 2: https://www.strava.com/activities/7041827489
Strava Day 3: https://www.strava.com/activities/7041829396