Overlord Glacier – Fitzsimmons Range backcountry – April 28, 2019

Overlord Glacier – Fitzsimmons Range backcountry

April 28, 2019

Every spring I like to do one trip where I fry my face, get some nice views, (hopefully) ski good snow and come home safe. This year I went for a pleasant ramble with Pat L into the Fitzsimmons Range to the backcountry behind Whistler mountain. Our plan was to head out to the Russett Lake hut to hang out overnight then tour out to the Diavolo Glacier area to look at terrain, wander around glaciers and perhaps get a clean look at the N face of Mt Cheakamus.

Overnight gear, a simple glacier rack, and 2 nights of food (I brought extra just in case) into an Alpine Threadworks Selkirk pack

Out to the Russett hut as the lifts closed; enjoying nice fast travel conditions and quite the light show. It didn’t take much to talk Pat into getting some a sunset ski on the NW facing Fissile bowl approach to Whirlwind Peak. Clearing showers lent even more colour to the sunset.

View to the Overlord Glacier from an inbounds ski, then from Flute, and a view of the soon-to-be complete Kees and Claire hut

Fissile daytime. A group of 4 already at the hut

Sunset on the low-tide snow year of the NW and WNW face of Fissile

The “rustic” Russet hut

While daytime temps were 9 – 12 degrees (and slated to be that warm the next day) night-time temps were in the minus 10 range. With the well-ventilated drafty Russet Lake hut notorious for being an ice-box I was happy to have packed a warm bag. Northerly outflows hammered the walls all night. On waking up and making breakfast Pat and I both remarked that we would go out to see how things looked but both of us agreed that big steep N faces (Cheakamus is in the high 50s so fairly steep) would likely ski poorly.

On touring up NW slopes from Fissile to Whirlwind we confirmed our suspicion and after reaching Fissile-Whirlwind col discussed the possibility of altering plans. Both of us were quite happy with the windless, warm conditions affording magnificent views. Pat had never skied the Overlord Glacier proper with my experience of it being 7-8? years old so was content to go exploring.

This turned out to be a good call as the N face of Cheakamus had avalanched naturally sometime in the past few days (per a MCR). Moreover Overlord Glacier skied so well and conditions were so fast that we did another lap of the glacer thus completing 2 circumnavigations of Fissile. On our 2nd lap Tim R joined us and we skied a slightly more aggressive line that both Pat and I scouted from lap 1.

We had a quick ski back to Whistler and were eating and drinking in a remarkably deserted village by a civilized 5.30pm

Cheakamus Glacier view

Down the 2km wide Overlord Glacier

First serac complex of Overlord with Fissile’s NE face behind

Pretty well-bridged glacier (for now)

On lap 1 we took the opportunity of scouting the line furthest skiers left and confirming that it did go

Lap 2 – red arrows mark the sags on the Overlord Glacier below Refuse Pinnacle

My squiggly tracks down the Overlord Glacier

Overlord Glacier April 28 2019 from Lee Lau on Vimeo.



More Tim

The lines of Fissile aren’t filled in and probably not going to get better this season

I took a lot of pictures because (i) the weather was so good and (ii) glaciers and mountains are beautiful. When I got back I put together some comparisons of the terrain from a decade ago as compared to present-day.

Cheakamus Glacier then

Cheakamus Glacier now

Fissile-Whirlwind col now and then

Fissile East Face then

Fissile East Face now

Fissile NE face & first Overlord Glacier seracs then and now

Overlord Glacier middle seracs then and now. Glacier has receded enough to uncover a rock band

Overlord Glacier right fork seracs then and now. Glacier has receded enough to uncover a rock band

Banana and Psycho Chute then and now

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