What’s the deal?
Don’t put away your skis yet: Head into Whistler’s backcountry this spring.
Where’s it at?
By now, most people are storing their skis and dusting off their golf clubs, but serious skiers know that spring can be a great time to hit the slopes – and that’s just as true for the backcountry. The Spearhead Traverse, one of Canada’s most popular ski routes, is a 34-kilometre, horseshoe track that begins at the top of Blackcomb Mountain, and wends its way through the Spearhead and Fitzsimmons Ranges, across 13 glaciers and a handful of mountain passes. This alpine run – all above 2,000 metres – ends with a ski down Whistler Mountain.
Although it can be done in a day, unless you’re a masochist it’s best to allow four days to explore the area, bag a few summits and get in some turns. Book a trip with Whistler Alpine Guides Bureau, an outfitter that can provide alpine-touring skis (or a splitboard), and other gear.
You should be reasonably fit and at least an intermediate- level resort skier; the guides will teach you the rest. And with this year’s heavy snow pack, the Spearhead can be done well into June.
An initiative is under way to build more huts (spearheadhuts.org), but for now you’ll need to camp. The route offers several good ski runs, such as the Macbeth Glacier, but the attraction is spending days in the solitude of a stunning alpine landscape. You’ll experience a part of Whistler few tourists will ever see, and when you make that ski back down to the Village, you’ll know there will be cold beer waiting.
Who’s it for?
Those who aren’t ready for winter to end. A guided trip on the Spearhead Traverse costs $545 with Whistler Alpine Guides Bureau (whistlerguides.com).
Special to The Globe and Mail