With some long spring days ahead in April and May it’s prime time for longer ski traverses. For those not familiar, a ski traverse is when a group travels from one destination to another through mountains on skis. A traverse can be done quickly in a day or take several days or even weeks with the associated winter camping equipment and food supplies. While the main goal is to travel from point A to point B, pursuing vertical objectives is still very much possible depending on the party, snow conditions and time allowed.
Think you’re ready for the next level backcountry experience? Grab a copy of Exploring the Coast Mountains on Skis by John Baldwin (available in Whistler at Armchair Books) and start planning. Here are the Top 5 ski traverses around Whistler and the Sea to Sky Corridor.
Well known as proving ground for backcountry skiers, the Spearhead Traverse offers a challenging route linking Blackcomb to Whistler Mountain through the Spearhead and Fitzsimmons Ranges. Time around the 35-km route varies between three to four days to a matter of hours for the fastest groups.There are plenty of optional steep skiing objectives along the way including the fabled Mt. Fitzsimmons. Finishing in the heart of Whistler Village also lends to plenty of post-trip food and beer options.
Touted by Baldwin as “THE classic ski traverse of the Coast Mountains.” the Garibaldi-Neve Traverse is a scenic alpine traverse from Diamond Head just north of Squamish to the base of Black Tusk south of Whistler. First completed in the 1940’s, the 40-km route crosses the massive Garibaldi-Neve icefield, the Warren and Sentinel glaciers as well as a frozen Garibaldi Lake. Views of Mt. Garibaldi, the Mamquam Icefield and a plethora of other peaks make this traverse a visual spectacle.
Currie to Blackcomb
A variation of the classic four-day Wedge-Currie Traverse, the more popular Currie to Blackcomb reverses the route and shortcuts with a chartered heli drop onto Mt. Currie. From there experienced skiers can descend Currie’s south face before traversing all the way back to Blackcomb over the Mystery and Weart Glaciers. All 27 kilometres are possible in a day, with another great finishing line right next to Whistler’s best bars.
This is where it starts to get serious A great trip to get deeper into Garibaldi Park than you’ve probably ever gone before, but make sure you have a reliable stretch of good weather in the forecast. This six to eight-day traverse measure almost 66 kilometres, starting in the Whistler backcountry and finishing at Garibaldi Lake. There’s a lot of ascending and descending on this route (3840m of elevation gain according to Baldwin) so be sure to have a high level of fitness and pack-carrying strength.
Ski mountaineering in the Tantalus Range is popular with Sea to Sky backcountry travellers looking for steep skiing objectives. Most trips the area are based out of the Jim Haberl Hut with a heli lift in and out of the range, but the Tantalus Traverse takes it one step further. Imagine yourself traversing the spine of the Tantalus Range for 40 kilometres picking your way through the crux over the Rumbling Glacier. This is not a trip for the inexperienced.
Mountain Skills Academy & Adventures offers guided trips on the Spearhead Traverse but can cater a guided experience to any of the ski traverses around Whistler on this list. The best time of year is April and May so start planning and contact us today.