2 - 3
FATMAP difficulty grade
This route provides an excellent opportunity for intermediate ski tourers to hone their glacier travel skills.
There is only one section with significant crevasse hazard and during peak winter season these are usually well bridged.
Early season and later in the spring however this route can be significantly more hazardous due to a weaker snowpack. The route starts off at the Blackcomb Glacier backcountry gate.
From here, ascend south east up towards the East Col.
Unlike the route taken to reach Vista Bowl, this time you trend climbers left towards the Spearhead.
Once you reach the col there is an option to access the glacier more directly via a short descent known as ‘Don’t Swill’.
This route is more advanced due to its steep gradient and increased crevasse fall hazard.
Instead of continuing to climb towards Don’t Swill, transition on the saddle and make a short traverse due East towards the guides notch.
The slopes you cross on this traverse have been known to avalanche during periods of reverse loading, with winds coming from the north.
Be aware that despite the high levels of traffic this is a consequential piece of terrain and should be treated with caution.
After the short traverse you will find yourself at the bottom of a short bootpack.
Take care releasing your skis - the slope below is fairly steep.
Once you reach the top of this short climb you will pass through the guides notch and gain access to the Spearhead Glacier.
From here you have multiple descent options, all heading north-north east.
This is the most heavily crevassed section of the glacier, with large open slots below the guides notch.
The best way to avoid these is to side step or skin 100m or so further east before descending onto the glacier.
This run has a nice mellow pitch and often holds excellent snow due to wind transport and it’s north aspect.
After reaching the large flat section of the glacier at the bottom of the run it is time to transition again for another ascent.
This climb will take you east, up towards the Vista Bowl col and is fairly short.
Once you gain the east shoulder of the Spearhead Glacier, continue along the ridge to the north east.
There are many descent options form this shoulder back down onto the glacier.
You can keep walking along the ridge until you find the line with the least tracks in it.
This run takes you down a north west aspect which can be slightly more wind effected than the first descent.
Once again you will enjoy a mellow gradient with lots of space for big turns and fun skiing all the way back down onto the flat section of the glacier.
If you are still feeling keen you can recycle the original skin track and take another lap or two from the shoulder.
Once you’ve had your fill, skin back due west towards the opposite side of the glacier.
This next climb is the most challenging of the day, but is totally manageable in good conditions.
Ascend as indicated on the map up to a slope of approximately 30 degrees where you will make your last couple of kick turns for the day! Once on the ridge you can enjoy stunning 360 degree views before descending through Vista Bowl back into the ski resort and all the way down to the village for a bit of aprés.