About the Traverse
The Spearhead Traverse is a spectacular horseshoe ski traverse linking Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. It is a committing route that is almost exclusively alpine terrain with few options for retreat in the event of poor weather. Because of its high alpine character, the traverse is usually done in the spring when the weather is better and more reliable.
The traverse was first done in the 1960s, before either mountain had any ski lifts.
The route is most commonly done in a clockwise loop, starting at blackcomb mountain and ending as Whistler. This is prefered for a number of reasons:
- The Whistler side (Fitzsimmons Range) is lower altitude than the blackcomb side (Spearhead Range), which puts most of the high altitude skiing out of the way in the first couple days
- The Fitzsimmons Range portion has the only escape routes (down to Fitzsimmons creek, then climbing back up to russet lake and out singing pass trail). There are no good escape routes from the Spearhead Range.
- The steepest slope of the traverse (south side of Mt. Iago, about 35 degrees) can be skied instead of climbed
In short the route is:
- buy a backcountry lift ticket from guest services in Whistler Village. It's cheaper than a regular ticket ($30 or so) and you don't have to shlep all your stuff 1600m up to the top of Blackcomb.
- from top of showcase T-bar on Blackcomb, cross blackcomb glacier to the Blackcomb-Spearhead co.
- Climb over Decker mountain
- Traverse around the North side of Mt. Trorey
- ski around the south side of Mt. Pattison.
- climb to the col between Tremor and Shudder (or is it Shatter)
- traverse the platform, ripsaw and naden glaciers to the macbeth glacier.
- Follow a ridge off the macbeth galcier to the iago glacier (steep) and climb the Iago glacier
- descend off Mt. Iago to the Diavolo glacier (steep)
- climb over Mt. Benvolio and then do a spiralling descent around the N side of overlord (crevasses)
- Either descend overlord glacier and climb back to russet lake, or cross fissile-whirlwind col and descend to russet lake.
- ski over the summits of Oboe and Flute to reach the whistler ski area
- descend whistler ski runs to the village and bask in your glorious achievments over a pint