Spearhead Traverse in 2 days

I’ve been trying to patiently wait or clear weather to do some spring trips. The forecast for the next few days looked about as good as you can get in the Coast Range with an uncharacteristic Artic cold front hitting SW British Columbia. Temps in the alpine were predicted to dip to minus 20. With the hope that the snow up high would be good and the skies clear, Chris K, Chris D, myself and Jon set out to do a 2 day Spearhead Traverse. Our plan was to set up camp at Iago-MacBeth col and perhaps ski off some peaks on the way.


Setting out – Blackcomb in background


Lee and Chris K heading up Decker ~photo Chris Davey


Jon skiing off Tremor-Pattison col to the Tremor Glacier


Chris heading to Tremor Col


We followed the standard Spearhead route with some variations; taking the direct way up the N face of Decker up the glacier; skipping the Trorey-Decker blowhole and contouring around the N face of Trorey and going direct to Tremor – Pattison col. We made decent time with overnight packs and were at Tremor col at about 2pm. Chris D didn’t particularly feel like skiing off the N face of Tremor in flat light so Chris K and myself headed up for the short, steep shot. We got a window of half-decent light, skied off the summit and headed back to Tremor Col


Not the best visibility off Tremor


Chris K off the N Face of Tremor


Looking to the Curtain Glacier – our route is behind the Ripsaw


Our original plan had been to drop gear at Iago-MacBeth col and ski the 1 km vertical shot of the Curtain Glacier. The flat light followed us all the way to camp though so we entertained ourselves by setting up. The light did improve by around 6pm but by then it was a bit late to ski off MacBeth, down the Curtain and back up the Macbeth Glacier so we amused ourselves in different ways while we contemplated how cold it was going to be at night.


Camp at Iago-MacBeth col


Chris K with a sunset ski


Morning brings cold, clear conditions.


It was freaking cold. Luckily, our system of digging a pit and staking a siltarp kept us decently comfortable. We were up pretty early with the sun and departing by 8.30. We had thought about skiing the Curtain Glacier but during the night, a pretty stiff N wind had blown and it was evident that N faces would not ski well with the stiff wind-slab.


Lovely view from our camp – Couloir Ridge is the near peak. MacBeth Gl is the shaded glacier. Naden Gl is the glacier where our camp is staked


Skiing down the MacBeth Glacier to the bootpack ridge


Lee on the short bootpack


At least on the Spearhead on a clear day you are guaranteed great views. We took a look at Fitzsimmons’s N face and thought about skiing Iago’s W face direct but weren’t inspired by the idea of skiing windslab so dropped off the col just NW of Iago down to the Fitzsimmons Glacier. Then we skinned back up to the lower col of the Overlord Glacier.


Dropping down the W face of Iago off the minor col to the Fitzsimmons Glacier


Top picture - Lee on Iago ~photo Chris Davey. Bottom picture – Chris Davey with tracks down Iago


View from the Fitzsimmons Glacier


Our motivation wasn’t the greatest; snow was pretty manky, clouds were starting to drift in and beer at the GLC was calling. We took the requisite look at Fissile and decided to take the easy way out and headed down the Overlord Glacier. The exit was routine with some decent snow in Cowboy Ridge and an icy, fast ski down Singing Pass where Chris D decided to try some icy, death crust tree skiing. All the creeks were still filled in so we basically skied right to the GLC.


Chris D heading down Overlord Glacier


Chris D on Cowboy Ridge and the home stretch


Singing Pass is fast and icy at the present


Map of our route – best map is the John Baldwin Whistler Backcountry Map

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