Europe has the Haute Route. The Northwest has the Spearhead Traverse, a classic high alpine ski tour. This 3-day trip has easy access, a spectacular setting in the backcountry of the continent's best ski area, heavily glaciated terrain, and even a new state-of-the-art hut, making it a must for anybody who is serious about ski touring. It is incredible that a ski traverse of such quality and easy access (we take the lift to the top of the Blackcomb ski area) can still offer so much solitude and such a wilderness experience.
On the 3-day Spearhead Traverse you will meet your guide early on day 1 and catch the first chair to the top of Blackcomb ski area. Therefore you will likely need to arrange accommodations in Whistler the night before the trip. On the tour two long and scenic days bring you to the Kees and Claire Hut, where you can potentially enjoy a few laps on Fissile Peak before you ski out on day 3.
We also offer a 4-day Spearhead Traverse trip. The 4-day trip is recommended for people who want to either spend more time on the traverse, have the option for moving more slowly, or want more time to ski laps around camp when conditions allow. The 4 day trip allows time to travel to Whistler the morning of the first day and catch the lift to start the tour in the late morning or early afternoon.
In September of 2019 a brand new state-of-the-art hut is opening at Russet Lake! The only hut on the Spearhead traverse used to be the Russet Lake hut, also known as the "tin can." Some claimed it was colder inside the hut than outside! Now on the second night we will be staying at the brand new Kees and Claire hut. It has 38 sleeping spaces divided into 6 sleeping areas. It is heated, has propane stoves and cooking equipment such as pots, plates, and utensils, and an indoor composting toilet. It even has electricity and lights! After a night in a tent you will love the warmth and comfort of this awesome new hut on the second night. The hut fees are included in the trip price.
Overall Difficulty Level: Moderate to Difficult
Skills Required: Advanced skiing ability and prior ski touring experience
Fitness Level: Strenuous due to skiing with an overnight pack
Day 1: You will meet with your guide on the morning of the first day, purchase a one-up lift ticket, and catch the first chair to the top of the Blackcomb ski area. From here you will cross over Spearhead pass, ski down the Decker Glacier, then cross the Trorey, Tremor and Platform Glaciers and camp on the Platform-Ripsaw col. This day is very long and scenic. Depending on time, group fitness and conditions, you may have the chance to take a long ski descent down the Ripsaw or Shatter Glacier in the late afternoon.
Day 2: Today we cross over from the Spearhead Range to the Fitzsimmons Range. The switch from the MacBeth to the Lago Glacier is considered the crux of the traverse. Next we will ski underneath the North face of Overlord Peak, cross the Overlord Glacier to the Fissile saddle and then down to the new Kees and Claire hut.
Day 3: The proximity to the Whistler ski area should allow us to ascend and ski Fissile peak in the morning. This is an amazing viewpoint to see the whole traverse. From this high point we ski back to the hut, pack up, and traverse the musical bumps to the Whistler ski area. After the ski descent down to the Whistler base area, we should have enough time for a good lunch in the village before heading home.
Snow Travel Equipment
Parking has become challenging at Whistler and it is good to have a plan before you arrive. You are no longer allowed to leave your vehicle in the public pay lots for over 24 hours. Some hotels will let you pay to park in their lots. More information about overnight parking can be found on the Spearhead Huts Society page HERE.
On this 3-day trip you will meet your guide early on the first day, so most people need to find accommodations for the night before the trip. There are many hotels in Whistler so the choices are wide open. Make sure you inquire about parking during your stay and leaving your vehicle in their lot while you are on the traverse. Another option is to stay in Squamish the night before. Check out the Sea to Sky Hotel, located about 3 miles north of the Squamish downtown area.
No. If you prefer, we can add the price of the lift ticket to your trip and have the guide get it for you.
Possibly. The 3-day trip has longer days of touring, so skiing laps around camp will depend primarily on group fitness, ability, and the weather and snow conditions.
The Kees and Claire Hut is the first of 3 proposed huts along the Spearhead Traverse. You can see more details about the hut HERE.
We are typically out in the early afternoon of the last day.
Although tipping is not a requirement, it is considered standard practice in the guiding industry and is appreciated by our guides. We generally recommend roughly 10%-15% of your course or trip cost or a flat amount that you are comfortable with.