Europe has the Haute Route. The Northwest has the Spearhead Traverse. This high alpine ski tour in Garibaldi Provincial Park features everything it takes to become a classic. Easy access, a spectacular setting in the backcountry of Whistler/Blackcomb ski area, heavily glaciated terrain and even a hut (Yes! A stay at the new Kees and Claire hut is part of our trip!) make it a must for anybody who is serious about ski touring. It seems 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.
Europe has the Haute Route. The Northwest has the Spearhead Traverse. This high alpine ski tour features everything it takes to become a classic. Easy access, a spectacular setting in the backcountry of Whistler / Blackcomb ski area, heavily glaciated terrain and even a hut make it a must for anybody who is serious about ski touring. It seems 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. What else do you need?
In September of 2019 a brand new state-of-the-art hut is opened 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 third 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: We will drive to Whistler (exact meeting times will be coordinated by the guides) and catch the lift ride up to the top of the Blackcomb ski area. A quick ski tour over Spearhead Pass and down to the Decker Glacier will put us in perfect position for the next day.
Day 2: This day is long and very scenic. We will be crossing the Decker, Trorey, Tremor and Platform glaciers. Our second camp will be established on the Platform - Ripsaw col. This campsite is beautiful, wild, and offers ample opportunity for long ski descents down the Ripsaw or Shatter Glacier in the late afternoon.
Day 3: This is the day when we cross over from the Spearhead Range to the Fitzsimmons Range. The switch from the MacBeth to the Iago Glacier is considered the crux of the traverse. We will then ski underneath the North face of Overlord Peak, across the Overlord Glacier to the Fissile saddle and then down to the new Kees and Claire hut for our overnight stay there.
Day 4: The proximity to the Whistler ski area should allow us to ascend Fissile peak. This is an amazing viewpoint of 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 Whistler, we should have enough time for a good lunch in the village before heading home
- Guide fees and expenses for 4 days (includes partial wages for travel day)
- Group gear including stoves, fuel, tents, ropes, Sat phone or inReach, and group first aid kit (please see equipment list)
- Hut fees
- Lift ticket: since so many people have the Epic Pass, Whistler vouchers, or other access tickets, we no longer include the one-up ticket in the trip price. It is easy to purchase the ticket on the morning of the first day of the tour.
- Lodging before or after the trip. We can help arrange lodging if you'd like, just let us know!
- Transportation to/from Whistler
- Parking: Parking has become challenging at Whistler and it is good to have a plan before you arrive. You are not 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 while on the Spearhead for their nightly rate (US $20-40 per night).
- Gratuity for the guide
- Personal equipment and meals: please see the equipment list
Snow Travel Equipment
On this 4-day trip you are able to drive to Whistler from the greater Seattle area on the morning of the first day. If you prefer to arrange accommodations for the night before, 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 HERE, located about 3 miles north of the Squamish.
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 while on the Spearhead for their nightly rate (US $20-30 per night).
No. If you prefer, we can add the price of the lift ticket to your trip and have the guide get it for you.
Yes, the legs from camp to camp are short enough that this is possible.
Well, not that much. You will get to stand up straight and be out of the weather, but it won't be warmer than inside the tent. It is also a first come, first serve hut without a hut keeper, so there is not a guaranteed spot.
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 trip cost or a flat amount that you are comfortable with.