Accidental Spearhead Day 2- Tremor North Face, Shudder and Shatter Glacier

As with most touring days where the skiing is not the best but temperatures are pleasant and views are magnificent we dawdled over breakfast replete with lots of cups of hot chocolate. While I’m sure that real estate developers would love to put condos and revolving restaurants on the Platform Glacier (don’t laugh – if this was Europe there would be one up here!), we rather enjoyed the quiet solitude of sunrise.


Sunrise over the Spearhead Traverse



Zdenek having a quiet moment


It sure is a small world – a group that had camped close to us last night stopped to chat. We had mutual friends and I was happy to catch up on news. After taking in more views we decided to climb the 100m to Tremor Mountain and see what the views from there would bring.



Visitors – Tom from Canmore and Ian from Golden practising for their guides exam



Skin track up to Tremor Mountain ~ photo Ron Enns


Well, the short climb was worth it. The cornices hanging off the N face are pretty easily avoided and you can skin almost all the way to the peak. If you’re in the area and its clear, you would be amazed how much more you can see from this small climb. You’ll have to excuse the alarming amounts of panoramas coming up as I took pictures for future planned traverses in this area (good information on Bivouac or Clubtread or John Baldwin’s seminal book about ski-touring in the Coast Mountains about routes like the Wedge - James Turner – Currie traverse; the Garibaldi Neve to McBride to Spearhead Traverse; the Ashlu – Elaho Divide etc.)



Why it’s a bad idea to descend the Platform Glacier or Curtain Glacier in a low snow year



West face of Tremor Mountain – needs a bit more snow for skiing


View from Tremor Mountain’s peak looking from west to south east – glaciers and mountains as far as the eye can see ~ photo Rob McLachlan



Lee on Tremor peak ~ photo Rob McLachlan


Panorama looks from SE to SW from Tremor Mtn


Closeup of Baker and Shuksan from Tremor Mountain looking SE – shockingly clear skies to be able to see so far. I think that’s Judge Howay. The Ripsaw is in the foreground



Mt Davidson, the Cheakamus Glacier and Mt Garibaldi from Tremor Mountain


Ashlu Mountain from Tremor Mountain – part of the Ashlu-Elaho ski traverse


Phalanx Mountain from Tremor Mountain – Rainbow Glacier and the northern part of the Squa-Cheak divide in the background across the Whistler valley


With the weather this nice, it wasn’t too long before we heard the buzzing of helicopters. A word about heli-skiing in this area. It’s low-angle skiing but the businesses seem to try their best to co-exist with ski-touring. I know they go out of their way to avoid dropping groups on top of or close to ski-touring parties (this must sometimes be hard in such a relatively crowded area so close to the ski areas). While I don’t quite agree with the concept of commercial heli-skiing operations in a provincial park, I must say that I’ve never had a problem with the heli-operators and that, by all accounts, they are respectful. Not to mention, they take clients into areas that I generally would have no interest in skiing in any event.



Blackcomb Helicopters was busy today dropping off passengers on a small unnamed peak N of Tremor Mountain


Heli-skiers getting lucky with the weather



Hey, they’re bagging all our meadow-skipping gnar – Tremor Glacier from Tremor Mountain


No-one else wanted to ski off Tremor’s north face so I dropped in solo and hugged the fall-line shot vertical with the open snowfield that was not crevassed. I’d like to say the snow was great but it wasn’t. Still it gave good purchase and sluff management was pretty simple, a couple of turns, then cut hard one way – wait for the exploding crust to fall by you – and repeat. Never did manage to get a chance to let the skis run as I wasn’t sure what the next turn would bring so skied it safe, conservative and well… boring.

Still, it’s always fun to ski steep faces and particularly, to ski steep aesthetic faces that one has dreamed about for a long time.


Dropping in on Tremor’s north face ~ photo Ron Enns


Lee’s tracks on Tremor taken from the campsite


We then had another lengthy break eating lunch and enjoying more sun.


Our very comfortable camp ~photo Zdenek Manhal


To work off some more calories we headed over to the Shudder Glacier where we found more great views. The skiing wasn’t too bad as the surface was firm enough that you didn’t break through – making for fast snow.



Low angle crust on the Shudder Glacier



Looking down the Shudder Glacier to Billygoat Lake and Wedge


Panorama of the Shatter Glacier looking towards Wedge and James Turner ~ photo Rob McLachlan


Instead of dropping down to Billygoat Creek we then cut over to the Shatter Glacier to see if the SE facing slopes were corning up. Unfortunately January sun isn’t quite that strong so we had to settle for breakable crust. In Rob’s immortal words, “anything’s better then hanging around in a shopping mall”.


Rob happy that he has sharp edges on a E face of the Shudder Glacier



Rob traversing Shudder Mtn and heading to Tremor Col



Some snowplowing gaper visiting our camp coming off Shudder Mountain ~ photo Rob McLachlan


More sunset pictures as we made an early return to camp to laze around more in the sunshine and really cook up a storm. Sometime during dinner, someone made the suggestion that we should continue on to Whistler and finish off the Spearhead Traverse. We hadn’t planned on it but we were already quite a way’s around and the touring and views would continue to be spectacular. Thus – the ”accidental” Spearhead (credit to Ron for that name).



More sensory overload on the Platform Glacier



The Ripsaw goes pink


Macbeth, the Platform Glacier and the Curtain Glacier. You don’t ski this route unless you know your way around a glacier ~ photo Zdenek Manhal



Technicolour sky over Tremor


Quiver Peak, the Ripsaw and the Platform Glacier ~ photo Zdenek Manhal



Our meadowskipping days route exploring glaciers around Tremor


Very relaxed day’s elevation profile

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