The Spearhead Traverse: A Whistler Backcountry Classic

Blackcomb

Whistler

Whistler Blackcomb

Whistler’s backcountry ski tour rite of passage, taking you through some of the most impressive ski terrain on the continent.

Ski Touring Difficult

Distance
44 km
Ascent
4.2 km
Descent
4.2 km
Duration
1 day +
Low Point
681 m
High Point
2.6 km
Gradient
23˚
The Spearhead Traverse: A Whistler Backcountry Classic Map

A very popular 35km ski tour taking you across 13 glaciers (all over 2,000m in elevation), following the Fitzsimmons Range, which looms behind the Whistler-Blackcomb resort area. The tour starts at the Blackcomb Glacier and neatly winds back around, ending at the foot of the runs of Whistler Mountain. The route takes an average 3-4 days and it is easier to complete in the Blackcomb to Whistler direction as you then get the toughest terrain out of the way in the first couple of days.

Description

Although the Spearhead Traverse is always only ever a mere 10km away from the busy Blackcomb and Whistler ski areas, the route maintains a wild and remote feel throughout with stunning scenery and numerous high passes in big mountain terrain.

Starting from the glacier boundary gate on Blackcomb Mountain, the traverse moves from one pocket glacier to the next, across numerous ridges and through small passes. Trorey Glacier is a good spot to pitch up for the first night. From here head southeast, traversing below peaks with fabulous views into the remote valleys of northern Garibaldi Provincial Park.

Once you hit Tremor Mountain, turn in a southerly direction and cross Platform Glacier. You could pause to try the nice array of ski runs at this point, including Ripsaw and Macbeth Glaciers. Tremor Mountain is also a good place to camp for the second night, as you’ll then be in a prime position to tackle the most intense climb of the trip first thing in the morning- 1,400 felt up to the high point of 8,600 feet on Mount Benvolio.

Then heading west towards Whistler Mountain, you’ll eventually come to the end of the technical terrain, hitting Russet Lake, which serves as a well needed respite from the elements and the high level of exposure which you will have been enduring up until this point. From here you need to make a decision: either descend directly down Singing Pass to the piste ski area below, or continue along the height of the land until you hit the Piccolo area of Whistler Ski Resort. On the last day you can take respite in the Russet Lake Hut, which is free and open to all.

Because much of the route is above treeline, you need to be confident at navigating through a whiteout. There are also a lot of crevices to overcome, risk of avalanche danger, over 5,000 feet of climbing and skiing ranges from straightforward glaciers to 35-degree chutes. So to sum up, Spearhead Traverse is only for the experienced, and not for the faint hearted!

Difficulty

Difficult

Serious gradient of 30-38 degrees where a real risk of slipping exists.

Remoteness

2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

January, February, March, April, May, September, October, November, December