Whistler and the Duffey this season – Jan 15 to March 14, 2020

Not sure how long this season will last as COVID will make the world implode so here’s a photo-dump of various random trips from around our traditional stomping grounds this year.

Whistler and Blackcomb

The Sea to Sky has had a massive issue with its underlying snowpack via a buried persistent weak layer from the early season. However massive consistent storms in January followed by consistent snow in February had us poking around on lower angled terrain in the Blackcomb area. Here are some randoms from around the Circle Lake, Spearhead Glacier, Vista, Decker area of the Blackcomb backcountry

image: Lee Lau – Spearhead Glacier ridgeline walking

image: Lee Lau – preparing to drop to Vista Lake

Relevant links:

image: Lee Lau – down to Circle Lake from Spearhead Col

image: Lee Lau – Saucer Bowl

image: Lee Lau – Corona Bowl

Duffey – north of Pemberton


We had the blessings of bluebird skies following a cold dump of snow in late January. This covered up alder nicely and made it possible to get top to bottom 1000m shots of the S-facing Rohr avalanche chutes. Timing is crucial for these lines and we got lucky with the timing for our two laps

image: Lee Lau – first lap up

image: Lee Lau – deep tele turns

image: Lee Lau – first lap of cold smoke

image: Lee Lau – second lap direct from ridgeline

image: Lee Lau – spine walls for the second lap

image: Lee Lau – steep exit through the gut for the last pitch to the bottom

image: Lee Lau – the line was good all the way to valley bottom


Late February rolls around. Our friends from Vancouver Island come to visit. Their timing really couldn’t have been better. Temps were a tiny bit warmer than ideal but two mid February storms have laid even more base down. The week before they arrive two cycles put 10cms then another 10cms down on supportive stable snow.

Weather delivers for the Island crew. We work windows of visibility, rock walls to give us definition for skiing and manage to mine areas of perfect non-wind-affected snow. Three 400+m laps of perfect snow plus glimpses of the surrounding summits and icefields are the reward

image: Lee Lau. At Joffre Lakes

image: Lee Lau. First lap with an enormous ski cut that yielded no results

image: Lee Lau. Second lap being chased down by convective cloud but just another visibility for confident turns

image: Lee Lau. Second lap

image: Lee Lau. Third lap with an untouched powder field (except for our own group’s tracks)

 image: Lee Lau. Such an aesthetic line


The Island boys were around for another day. Weather promised for visibility for the first bit of the day with a storm rolling in for the latter part of the day so we picked a zone to give us option. We made our way up Vantage Ridge and as we gained it; graybird set in and visibility went to cloudy soup.

We made up for this by laps in trees and then enjoyed yet another top to bottom ski where the snow was good all the way

image: Lee Lau. Lillooett Lake morning fog and sun

image: Lee Lau. Blue skies turned to gray as we gained the ridgelines

image: Lee Lau. Storm rolls in

image: Lee Lau. 20cms new of low density

image: Lee Lau. Powder attack

Joffre Lakes

Joffre Lakes isn’t just about the free wifi or the naked yoga instagram log. It’s also about alpine terrain and treed skiing. Early March storms deposited up to 40cms of low density snow from peak to valley. Sometimes one explores and sometimes one gets the low-hanging fruit. We picked that fruit and it was sweet.

First for us was the Managerbod tour with old friends and sending off new friends as they had their last pow hurrah before making their way back to the mountainous gnar of Ontario. We lapped more pow and had faceshots

image: Lee Lau. Aggresive surface hoar growth

image: Lee Lau. Blasting lap 1

image: Lee Lau. Gutting pillows for lap 2

image: Lee Lau. Manager pow

image: Lee Lau. Warm enough towards end of day for trailhead celeberatory beer

Joffre Lakes again

Joffre Lakes was so good and yielded so many instabangers we went back for more. This time we hit up a birthday mission for a triple lapper but found that pure Westerly slopes had a stout sun crust; skiable but not the overhead blower to which we had become accustomed. No matter. There were some north faces that required our attention and we did to those what needed to be done

image: Lee Lau. Going up for lap 2. The first lap we skied in the backdrop was sun-affected unfortunately

image: Lee Lau. Paparazzi pulled through as we dropped for lap 2

image: Lee Lau. Inexplicably other groups left this fat couloir for us to destroy

image: Lee Lau. Pow harvesting commencing

image: Lee Lau. Beautiful pow in a straight down line

image: Lee Lau. Powder snow all the way down

image: Lee Lau. Not a track in before we started

image: Lee Lau. Acceptable quality

Darwin zone

A cold spell for mid-March brings in unseasonably low temps. While sun affect is putting paid to even W and E aspects everything remotely north-facing still skis beautifully. Travel is fast as coverage has improved all season. We spent a bunch of time hunting N-facing couloirs and had nice payback as the zone delivered a distinct lack of crowds, reasonable (but not overly steep) lines, and sheltered N facing stable snow

image: Lee Lau – working ridgelines to get to the promised land

image: Lee Lau – couloir 1

image: Lee Lau – yes this did ski as well as it looked

image: Lee Lau – couloir 2

image: Lee Lau – that also was of acceptable quality

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