Spearhead Traverse 2002
To anyone who thought winter was over, it's time for a wake up call. We just got back from four days in the Whistler backcountry on the classic Spearhead Traverse, and even with temperatures hotter than Britney Spears we still had mountains of deep, dry powder all to ourselves.
As true slackers do, we got off to a late 12 something start on Whistler Mountain and skinned over to the Russet Lake Hut with our overstuffed packs drooping from our backs. By the time we reached the hut it was so late that most normal skiers were probably detoxing down in the bars. But we still had a peak to bag and we knew the May sun would be kicking around for a few hours yet. We dumped our bags in the hut and booted to the peak of nearby Fissile Mountain, a Whistler area classic. There's nothing easy or boring to ski off this peak, and as the Sun got ready to pack it in for the night we debated over which of several 50+ degree chutes or faces to drop into.
All votes were for the wrap-around 'Elevator Chute', an aesthetic line dropping from the right shoulder of the summit that funnels into the main chute. We were greeted by good ol' spring conditions, stuck with super-skanky crust up top followed at the bottom by the deepest snow I've skied in months! Not a bad start to the traverse.
The whole traverse took four days because we took our sweet ol' time and bagged a few more peaks as we went. Of note, Mt. Iago was a gem we'd been eyeing for a while, and it's 580m of 50-something-degree face skiing yielded some epic turns. On the flip side, our hike up turned into a sketchy, blind traverse above who-the-hell-knows-what as the weather started its series of 'pregnant-lady' mood swings of doom. Nothing like being stuck on a steep and crusty boot-pack route with no game plan, wearing a t-shirt and sunglasses, and no ledges to get your skis or jacket on. Good times.
The other highlight had to be our 2-run session on Mt Tremor; a 55-degree face with unexplainably bottomless powder the whole way down. How you get snow like that in May is beyond us, but we weren't complaining.
All in all it was an amazing trip, and we scoped tons of peaks that we now have lined up for next time, and Mt Fitzsimmons is on the top of that list. It's funny to think that most of the steep descents in the area weren't skied until the early 90's by guys like Trevor Peterson and Eric Pehota.
The slacker mountaineers before then must not have known what they were missing.