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| | |-+  February 21-22, 2015, Spearhead Traverse
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Author Topic: February 21-22, 2015, Spearhead Traverse  (Read 2504 times)
Bryan_B
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February 21-22, 2015, Spearhead Traverse
« on: 02/25/15, 05:04 PM »

Jack_b and I skied the Spearhead Traverse Saturday, Feb. 20 and Sunday Feb. 21. Generally, conditions made for good travelling and poor skiing. Looking out across the Fitzsimmons valley from just S of Mount Pattison:



After picking up our backcountry ski passes at guest services at 8:30 on Saturday, we rode the lifts to the top of Blackcomb and left the resort around 10:00. As we transitioned, we met a pair of Canadians (Joel from Squamish and Dave from Nelson) who we leap frogged with for the rest of the trip. They were the only other party we encountered outside the immediate vicinity of Blackcomb and Whistler. Crossing from Decker Glacier to Trorey Glacier:



Clear skies, light winds and hard snow made for fast and easy travel all day. Nothing really softened into corn throughout the afternoon. Navigation was straight forward, and all the crossings were easy. The crossing from Ripsaw Glacier to the Naden is a little boney. There was a bootpack where previous parties had down climbed, but we were able to figure 11 it. Skiing down the MacBeth Glacier:



We arrived on the MacBeth about 3:00 and decided to call it a day in order to enjoy a few hours relaxing in the sun. We shared a campsite with great western exposure at about 2000m with Joel and Dave. The wind picked up a bit in the afternoon, and after Jack and I set up the mega mid, I made the one boneheaded mistake of the trip.
   
As I was moving gear into our tent for the evening, I blew up my sleeping pad and set it on the ground outside the tent. As I turned away, a gust of wind picked up the pad and whisked it down hill. Jack made a heroic sprint and dive (ski boots unbuckled, no less) but it danced inches away from his fingertips. From there, I watched it slide down the MacBeth, pause, then spin off into oblivion in the Fitzsimmons valley.

It was a cold lesson. Packing light, using a 30 degree quilt in February is a good idea until your sleeping pad gets blown away … Luckily I had some ⅛ inch closed cell foam emergency bivy pad. I laid that over both backpacks. For my feet, I laid down both sets of skins and uncoiled our 30m rope. Finally, Jack was kind enough to lend me his down coat. I wore his on top and put my own on my feet. Who's the dumb guy who left his sleeping pad unattended? This guy:



On Sunday, we climbed up onto Couloir Ridge, contoured around and skied down to the Diavolo Glacier. Climbing Couloir Ridge:



Conditions remained firm all day, but we were able to do without ski crampons. The north face of Benvolio has some hangfire. Had it been later in the day/season, a safer option would’ve been to cross over Benvolio to the Benvolio Glacier. Since it was early and conditions well frozen, we contoured quickly and carefully across the top of the Fitzsimmons Glacier and counterclockwise around the summit of Overlord. Skinning toward Overlord:



Accessing the Overlord Glacier required down climbing. We were able to do so with skis in hand. A long glide and a quick skin brought us to Whirlwind Pass and from there we skied  down to Russet Lake. After a snack in the sun, we continued on to Whistler. We made it to the bottom of Symphony Express in time to catch a ride to the top of Piccolo. (Symphony Express closes at 2:30.) From there we skied all the way down to the village. That’s a pretty nice way to finish a traverse.
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ryanl
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Re: February 21-22, 2015, Spearhead Traverse
« Reply #1 on: 02/25/15, 11:17 PM »

Right on Bryan! Nice pics. Too bad about your pad but I'm glad it all worked out.
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avajane
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Re: February 21-22, 2015, Spearhead Traverse
« Reply #2 on: 02/26/15, 09:56 AM »

Sounds like more fun than the lift skiing.  I think I enjoyed my "sleep" in my warm blankets a bit more than you, however. When you have to use a climbing rope to keep warm... you've usually made some sort of dumb mistake. Nice pictures. Surprised you didn't need ski crampons. Monday it warmed and softened real nice in the afternoon - but was then back to the hard again. You moved fast!
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Brian Izdepski, Facebook TAY
runningclouds
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Re: February 21-22, 2015, Spearhead Traverse
« Reply #3 on: 02/26/15, 05:07 PM »

Generally, conditions made for good travelling and poor skiing.

Interesting, we found it exactly the other way around Garibaldi Lake. Perhaps you had a less sidehilling to deal with. For skiing down we had great dust on crust condition.

Just curious, did you see other parties skiing the Spearhead?
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danpeck
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Re: February 21-22, 2015, Spearhead Traverse
« Reply #4 on: 02/26/15, 07:34 PM »

Super good story about the pad.  Nice to hear you had your emergency back up foam!

Great pics.  The views this season have made it all worth it eh?

Thanks for the post
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Bryan_B
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Re: February 21-22, 2015, Spearhead Traverse
« Reply #5 on: 02/27/15, 05:25 AM »

Just curious, did you see other parties skiing the Spearhead?

Between Mount Pattison and Fissile, we only saw two other people -- a pair of Canadians we ended up more or less teaming up with.
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jtack
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Re: February 21-22, 2015, Spearhead Traverse
« Reply #6 on: 02/27/15, 07:33 AM »

Thanks for the report, the views looked great, nice pictures.  It is always nice to have dreamy snow, but not better than not going!
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