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Author Topic: Easter Bunny does the Spearhead  (Read 2720 times)
Susan Ashlock
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Easter Bunny does the Spearhead
« on: 04/02/13, 10:57 AM »

Franklin, Charlie, and I (and a couple of chocolate Easter bunnies) completed a Spearhead Traverse Saturday - Sunday (March 30-31) under nearly-cloudless skies.  Other than a few scratchy spots, the route was in great condition.  The snow never got too soft and was only very firm in a few spots.  And with the extended high pressure system the route finding was very easy:  just follow the tracks!   Despite all the tracks, we didn’t see all that many folks on the actual traverse:  we ran into one party of 3 a few times, another party of 3 once, and a couple of solo folks, but that was it!

Our biggest problem may have been the sun - at times it felt like we were in an oven, and I had some issues with sweat and sunscreen in my eyes (along with my contacts).   And we always kept an eye out for cornices -- there are plenty of big ones on this route.   My only regret may have been taking more equipment than I needed.  I think if my pack had been 5 pounds lighter I would have been even happier.  And taking an extra day to allow for more skiing would be nice too!

Overall it was a great trip with outstanding views!

Pictures:
Day 1: http://www.flickr.com/photos/susanashlock/sets/72157633144175809/
Day 2: http://www.flickr.com/photos/susanashlock/sets/72157633151925956/

We brought:
Ski crampons - used briefly Sunday morning
Aluminum boot crampons - not used
Ice axes - not used
2 x 30m ropes (8 mm) - not used:  Two so that if the person who falls in the crevasse has a rope in their pack, there’s still hope. Smiley
Harnesses + glacier gear - worn but not used
1 Megalight shelter - Charlie and I used it; Franklin opted for the views of the stars.
1 MSR Reactor stove
Copies of John Baldwin’s “Backcountry Whistler” map.  In every case where an “alternate” route was marked, we stayed on the main route. 
2 Snow Peak fuel cannisters - 1 used
2 Chocolate Easter bunnies

Some notes from our trip:
Friday
7 p.m. - Left Seattle area
10:30 p.m. - Arrive Squamish.  We stayed at the Chieftain Hotel in Squamish. For $67 (tax included) we got a room with 2 beds.  Our room was clean and in good shape and the service was friendly. 

Saturday
6:45 a.m. - Leave Squamish
7:30 a.m. - Arrive Lot 4 and snag the last (free) overnight parking spot.  It looks like people parked in other spots overnight without incident.  We proceeded to guest services, where we handed over our form that we had already filled out (available here): http://www.whistlerblackcomb.com/the-mountain/backcountry/backcountry-clinics.aspx  “No one’s ever done that before” the Australian behind the desk said, surprised that we had brought our own copy of the form.  Guest Services was chock full of backcountry-geared-up folks.
8:40 a.m. - Onto the Blackcomb gondola (followed by the Excelerator and Glacier Express chairs).  It was Charlie’s first ride on a gondola - ever!  It felt very strange to start a tour with our skins in our pack.
9:30 a.m. - At the top of the Showcase T-bar.  Charlie’s first T-bar ride in 17 years, but it goes smoothly.
9:33 a.m. - Arrive at the base of the climb up the Blackcomb glacier and find 10 million other people putting skins on.  (Franklin counts 37).  Fortunately for us, many are starting day tours from that spot.
12:30 p.m. - On the Trorey Glacier.  Franklin remembers that he has left his sandwiches with ham, avocado, Dave’s Killer Bread and other tasty items back in the hotel room refrigerator.  He vows to return to the hotel the next day to rescue them.
12:40 p.m. - Arrive at steep bit going up to Pattison’s South Shoulder.  Fortunately, steps are already kicked in.  Unfortunately they’re rather firm and not made super-well.  A bit awkward.
2 p.m. - Arrive at Platform Glacier and decide to take a mellow lap without our packs.  Woo hoo!
~4 p.m. Arrive at McBeth-Naden col and debate where to set up camp.  We decide to camp on a bump near the bottom of the glacier after reasoning that it was safer to descend the south-west facing slope in the afternoon than when it would be frozen hard the next morning.  We dropped our packs and headed up to the ridge near the summit of McBeth.  Some decent turns were had on a wee bit of NE-facing pow.
5:30 p.m. - At camp after fun corny turns down the MacBeth.  We saw many tent platforms dug out (complete with walls) along the way, starting around the Platform Glacier.  On the bottom of the MacBeth Glacier alone there were at least 4 tent platforms dug out -- it sure made camp setup easy!

Sunday
6:30 a.m.- Wake up and discover that the Easter Bunny has visited!  Unfortunately the Easter Bunny didn’t realize that Franklin is allergic to peanut butter and brought peanut butter-filled chocolate eggs.  Fortunately Franklin realizes this in time to spit out said peanut butter and avert disaster.
8:15 a.m. - After a leisurely start to the morning we finally start heading towards the Iago glacier.  All 3 of us had ski crampons on at some point.  A few of the steps down the ridge to the Iago were firm (ski tracks, refrozen), so we booted down those. 
9:30 a.m. - Iago East shoulder.  Franklin can’t resist scrambling to the top of a small pinnacle; Charlie and I sit back and take pictures.  The first 50’ of decent from the shoulder is quite firm.  We had expected it to be SE facing, but the first 50’ is actually SW facing and has been skied out by the previous week’s traffic.
12 p.m. - Visit Overlord and Benvolio summits, short mellow diversions from the main route.  More awesome views.
2 p.m. - At Singing Pass.  After going over the top of Oboe (and roasting along the way), we went over the shoulder of Flute.  We must have taken a wrong turn because we ended up needing to put our skins on for a couple hundred meters to re-gain some elevation.  It felt strange being in a resort mid-afternoon (3:30) without any other skiers around... and then strange to be skiing down the crowded runs on the lower part of the mountain!
4:40 p.m. - At Whistler Village, festive in the summery weather!

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RobM
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Re: Easter Bunny does the Spearhead
« Reply #1 on: 04/02/13, 11:49 AM »

Awesome write-up and beautiful pics...  The jealous-o-meter (jheh-LOSS-o-meeter? J-lo-SAW-mitter?) is running high!
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jhamaker
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Re: Easter Bunny does the Spearhead
« Reply #2 on: 04/02/13, 06:17 PM »

Did the Easter bunnies survive the trip?  As one who most always has chocolate on hand (8oz Nutella last wk-end) I'm not sure I've ever seen chocolate in any form, let alone any chocolate fauna, make it through.

Awesome pics!
Fast trip!
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Charlie Hagedorn
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Re: Easter Bunny does the Spearhead
« Reply #3 on: 04/02/13, 09:13 PM »

Super fun trip; one I'd never really planned to do. So glad we did! It's really good.

Big thank-you to Susan and Franklin for a cup-filling trip to the alpine.

High points:
  • The company.
  • Seeing Fitzsimmons Creek basin open up below Pattison
  • Skinning across, then skiing the Platform Glacier (thanks for the indulgence, S & F!)
  • Skiing late-day corn on the Macbeth
  • Watching sunset, sunrise, and moonset from camp beneath the Macbeth Glacier.
  • The route's unfolding from Iago to Fissile; never burly, always beautiful

Dropping out of the alpine into the Whistler base was a shock; solitude to Disneyland in five minutes. Psychological crux was rolling around Overlord's corner, as advertised. Sure was hot on the way to Flute from Singing Pass.

If wilderness is your thing, go get it while it's good, and before the huts go in.

Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/64728404@N03/sets/72157633154977966/show/


* FranklinAndSusanAtopIagoGlacierTAY.jpg (169.2 KB, 800x473 - viewed 488 times.)

* FranklinSkisEveningCornOnMacbethGlacier.jpg (187.9 KB, 800x461 - viewed 495 times.)

* MoonOverlordTracksTAY.jpg (163.01 KB, 800x661 - viewed 493 times.)
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Charlie Hagedorn
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Re: Easter Bunny does the Spearhead
« Reply #4 on: 04/02/13, 09:19 PM »

Did the Easter bunnies survive the trip? 

One did, one didn't. Though both bunnies made the complete traverse, one never came home.

Lots of other chocolate, Easter eggs (no anaphylaxis! woohoo!), gummies, juju fish, Symphony bars, etc. powered the party.
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Dicey
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Re: Easter Bunny does the Spearhead
« Reply #5 on: 04/02/13, 09:53 PM »

Excellent!!
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cumulus
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Re: Easter Bunny does the Spearhead
« Reply #6 on: 04/03/13, 06:25 AM »

nice slide show Charlie! 

glad to see Franklin found good trip and company
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Stefan
Kyle Miller
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Re: Easter Bunny does the Spearhead
« Reply #7 on: 04/04/13, 04:20 PM »

Nice work!!

Did you happen to see a solo splitboarder Smiley
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In a perfect world, everybody would act with the correct etiquette and follow the rules. Human nature as it is= NOT GOING TO HAPPEN....no matter how many discussion on ski blogs/websites. Face reality............
Charlie Hagedorn
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Re: Easter Bunny does the Spearhead
« Reply #8 on: 04/04/13, 04:29 PM »

Nice work!!

Did you happen to see a solo splitboarder Smiley

We did! Dude was moving - said he'd accidentally woken up at 10 am. When he caught us on the Platform, he was on track to do it in a day. Never saw him board though; he did a lot of downhilling with the board split and skins on.

It doesn't seem like the splitboard-friendliest route; lots of long flat traverses, usually sloping to the left, if you're doing it clockwise as viewed from above. He was definitely making it work.


Edit: Wow, these guys did the loop in 3:10  last week! http://coastmountainskiing.com/race-spearhead-traverse-fkt/
« Last Edit: 04/04/13, 04:34 PM by Charlie Hagedorn » Logged

Kyle Miller
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Re: Easter Bunny does the Spearhead
« Reply #9 on: 04/04/13, 07:24 PM »

Well........I wouldn't call it friendly but with some extra work it could be epic.

It was whiteout conditions on Friday so all I wanted to do was get out. Made it from Blackcomb to the summit of Whistler 8:15.

Crazy Nordic skiers were the talk of the town.
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In a perfect world, everybody would act with the correct etiquette and follow the rules. Human nature as it is= NOT GOING TO HAPPEN....no matter how many discussion on ski blogs/websites. Face reality............
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