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| | |-+  April 25-26, Spearhead Traverse
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Author Topic: April 25-26, Spearhead Traverse  (Read 3790 times)
danpeck
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April 25-26, Spearhead Traverse
« on: 04/27/14, 03:03 PM »

Ed, Jason, and I enjoyed a very fine adventure this weekend on the Spearhead traverse.  Originally we had intended to take a leisurely 3 nights and 4 days to allow for some side skiing adventures from the Hammelsbach hut.  However, incoming weather (wind, clouds/fog), and conditions (icy crust mixed with wind loaded and buffed) led us to make an early exit.  That being said… the terrain and movement through the mountains, crossing 10 glaciers and numerous passes, was a worthy adventure in and of itself.

Leaving Whistler/Blackcomb and the crowds we soon found ourselves in the quite vastness of the Spearhead range:



Crossing the Decker Glacier



Transition to the Trorey Glacier



Ascending the Trorey







Transition and climb of the Tremor Glacier and probably the longest slog of the trip







Transition to the Platform Glacier



Looking onto the stunning Curtain Glacier and Fitzsimmons Glacier in the distance





Enjoying the view while eating dinner at camp on the Ripsaw Glacier





Next Day gazing from Couloir ridge col to Fitzsimmons ice fall and Overlord.  We saw the incoming weather and spent some time discussing whether we wanted to continue along the traditional route and chance crossing these high glaciers in a whiteout or descend an alternate route.  The clouds darkened as we discussed all of this and we opted for the safer, more conservative route down the MacBeth and Fitzsimmons Glaciers en route to the Hammelsbach Hut.  We were bummed to miss some exciting terrain, but I think we made the right choice.



Weather closing in.





Weather opening up, but winds remain high and we see more storms on the horizon.  Sunday, Today, was predicted to be the most cloudy and windy.



Decision time in the hut.  Shall we remain another day?  Stormy weather is coming and skiing is mostly crusty, edgy, nasty. 



We determine to finish the traverse calling it a good 2 day adventure with hopes to return again…



Waaaay too many  photos here:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/danpeck/sets/72157644370938095
« Last Edit: 04/27/14, 03:18 PM by danpeck » Logged
runningclouds
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Re: April 25-26, Spearhead Traverse
« Reply #1 on: 04/27/14, 03:55 PM »

Nice TR, thanks. The Spearhaed is a classic, maybe for another year before the hut(s) are built and change the area forever. From the videos on flickr the skiing looks pretty good, better that described.
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danpeck
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Re: April 25-26, Spearhead Traverse
« Reply #2 on: 04/27/14, 04:19 PM »

The first day we found some pretty good pockets.  The second day was skiing on hard crust and caaaareful turns with heavy packs… things changed overnight.  A few edges caught and heavy packs with significant momentum sent us rolling more than once.  But… once again, it was fun all around and a great adventure. 
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niko
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Re: April 25-26, Spearhead Traverse
« Reply #3 on: 04/27/14, 05:26 PM »

Congratulations: you made pretty good time (and wise decisions) considering conditions and the late lift start. My partner and I skied Pattison on Friday (I'm the last of the four dots on flickr #194 trudging toward the N col): the snow looked great but much of it didn't ski that well, esp S facing slopes cooked by the sun. Great photo-op conditions, though. Niko
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Don Heath
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Re: April 25-26, Spearhead Traverse
« Reply #4 on: 04/27/14, 07:16 PM »

Wow!  That is some amazing scenery!  Thanks.
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The best part of summer skiing is napping on a warm rock.
danpeck
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Re: April 25-26, Spearhead Traverse
« Reply #5 on: 04/27/14, 09:14 PM »

Congratulations: you made pretty good time (and wise decisions) considering conditions and the late lift start. My partner and I skied Pattison on Friday (I'm the last of the four dots on flickr #194 trudging toward the N col): the snow looked great but much of it didn't ski that well, esp S facing slopes cooked by the sun. Great photo-op conditions, though. Niko

Yea, it was a late start.  We were following a group of 2 that seems to have completed the traverse in a day.  Were they in front of you? 

We were joking that pretty much every picture we took looked awesome… Definitely some amazing terrain combined with good dramatic lighting.

I think you might have descended just as we were gaining the col?  Or perhaps a bit earlier.
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ematsen
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Re: April 25-26, Spearhead Traverse
« Reply #6 on: 04/28/14, 08:12 AM »

Did you dig some pits? Did snow stability seem good?
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danpeck
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Re: April 25-26, Spearhead Traverse
« Reply #7 on: 04/28/14, 08:58 AM »

We did not dig any pits.  Snow stability was good all around for the most part.  There was wind loading on N, NE, NW faces.  We saw a party kick off a wind slab on the NW face of Pattison.  It was small but ran for a while.  There was evidence of wet slides on sun warmed slopes from previous days.  And we traversed through some fairly significant wind pockets on the lower section of the Overlord glacier and were unwilling to try skiing Fissile's N face due to heavy wind loading.  All of this played into our decision to make an early exit since we would likely not be enjoying any side skiing due to stormy weather and high winds.
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niko
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Re: April 25-26, Spearhead Traverse
« Reply #8 on: 04/28/14, 08:46 PM »

We were following a group of 2 that seems to have completed the traverse in a day.  Were they in front of you? 
I think you might have descended just as we were gaining the col?  Or perhaps a bit earlier.

From Decker shoulder, we followed a fast-moving skier who went around to the S col of Pattison to ski the bigger couloir (your flickr 194 shows us and 2 other skiers between the fast skier and us). We skied the slightly shorter couloir climbers left: it was untracked and, yes, slabby. Unnervingly so. (The smaller couloir we skied has a nasty convexity near the top.) The slide you mentioned was probably in the next couloir or you may have seen one of ours depending on your angle.

I vaguely recall a couple of skiers ahead of us on the Decker but they moved fast and we lost them by the time we went down to the Trorey glacier. We've been talking about attempting a one-day run (so as not to have to carry full packs) but I'm not sure I'm up to it, especially given the late start of the lifts. One way to do a fast run would be to get to the start area the night before, leave overnight gear there and get an early start (but then somebody would have to go back to collect the gear; or have a day skier volunteer to pick up the gear in the morning). We may make an attempt 2 weeks from now but having been the subject of a crevasse rescue in mid May once (collapsed snow bridge) I'm really wary of the hot weather in the forecast. Those glaciers are minefields.

Congratulations again on a job well done.
N
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joppler
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Re: April 25-26, Spearhead Traverse
« Reply #9 on: 04/29/14, 04:21 PM »

Such a fun tour. Great post Dan!

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telemack
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Re: April 25-26, Spearhead Traverse
« Reply #10 on: 04/30/14, 06:12 AM »

Good to see photos of you guys up in the Great White North....
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There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval.
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