Gin Peak is the summit immediately south of Rainbow Lake. It makes a nice day trip when approached from Whistler Olympic Park in the Callaghan Valley. There is a ski run north off the summit to Rainbow Lake. North and Northwest facing slopes going down to Hanging Lake are also excellent ski runs.
This approach to the Rainbow Lake area can also be used to climb Rainbow Mountain. Approaching Rainbow Mountain from the Callaghan side is shorter than from 21 Mile Creek, and strong parties can climb the summit and ski back down in a day.
Access is from Whistler Olympic Park, the cross-country skiing, biathlon and ski jumping facility in the Callaghan Valley. Whistler Olympic Park is at the far end of Callaghan Valley Road, which leaves highway 99 north of Brandywine Falls, about 20km south of Whistler. The backcountry access trails begin from the Biathlon Range Parking Lot, which is about 1km past the main Day Lodge on Callaghan Valley Road. Overnight parking is only permitted at the Alexander Falls Recreation Site parking lot outside the main gate. Parking here adds an extra 1.5km of skiing along groomed trails. Whistler Olympic Park normally closes in mid April, and the road is gated just after Alexander Falls. After the Olympic Park is closed, park at Alexander Falls and use the unmaintained cross-country trails to reach the backcountry access trailheads.
A marked wilderness ski trail climbs steeply up to Hanging Lake from the Whistler Olympic Park Biathlon Range.
- Just east of the Biathlon Range scoreboard and penalty loop is a small clearing on the uphill side of the trail. A small road starts here heading uphill parallel to the outermost XC trails. The road is designated as "Olympic Explorer" snowshoe trail. Do not use the outermost XC trail as it is for downhill traffic only and XC skiers may be going very fast around some blind corners.
- After a pair of switchbacks, the small road forks twice. Keep left at the first fork, then right at the second one. Continue straight ahead to reach the end of a wide road coming from the other direction.
- Go along the wide road for perhaps 50m to the trailhead where there is a large sign. This is where the route leaves Whistler Olympic Park. The marked route enters the forest here on the uphill side of the road. Follow the orange diamond markers up the valley towards Hanging Lake.
- Initially, the route ascends gentle slopes on the north side of the creek, meandering a little to follow naturally open meadows.
- At 1200m the terrain steepens and the trail starts trending right, crossing the creek at 1250m to reach the first bench with subalpine meadows.
- Climb up through the meadows to a higher second bench along the bottom edge of a large talus slope at 1320m.
- Go left along the bench, until it ends near the creek flowing out of Hanging Lake. Then climb steeply straight up to gain an even higher third bench that continues left to the outlet of Hanging Lake.
- The marked trail ends at the outlet of Hanging Lake.
- To reach Gin Peak, gain the lowest point on the ridge above Hanging Lake then turn right and climb south to the top. Alternate climb directly up from the outlet of Hanging Lake (very steep at first, but easy higher up)
- Rainbow Mountain can also be reached from Hanging Lake. This route is substantially shorter than the traditional approach from 21 Mile Creek.
|0.0km||Biathlon Parking||875m||10U 0491858E 5554703N|
|0.1km||Follow Olympic Explorer snowshoe trail||875m||10U 0492001E 5554753N|
|TBD||Trailhead on Logging road above highest XC ski trail||945m||10U 0492592E 5554652N (?)|
|TBD||Beside Creek||1086m||10U 0493173E 5554707N|
|TBD||Meadows||1250m||10U 0493513E 5554712N|
|TBD||Bench below Talus Slope||1317m||10U 0493729E 5554661N|
|3.0km||Hanging Lake||1410m (?)||10U 0494017E 5555002N (?)|
GPS track from Jan 2013 (prior to trail realignment):Gin Peak Track
An alternate start for this route is possible from the day lodge using the XC competition trails. Signs are posted along this route making navigation straightforward.
- Start on Olympic Nordic Combined where it climbs from the day lodge up past the stadium area.
- Turn right onto Olympic XC / Ski jump loop at the top of the first hill.
- Take shortcuts on Olympic XC to quickly reach the highest point on the trail near the creek coming down from hanging lake.
- Take the right hand fork (an ungroomed logging road) that leads to the marked trail coming from the Biathlon Range.
- Return via the same route, using extra caution skiing the wrong way down the one way XC trails.
For overnight use or if you want to leave early or return late, Park at the Alexander Falls Recreation Site parking lot. Ski along Madeley Loop trail, Inside Passage and Biathlon Connector trails to reach the Biathlon Range and the start of the trail to Hanging Lake. This route may also be used late in the season when Whistler Olympic Park is closed and the main gate is locked.
- Avalanche terrain - ATES Challenging