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Spearhead Traverse
Timestamp Free: 2019.10.17 - 11:08:48
Ranges: North America Ranges / Pacific Cordillera Range / Coast Mountains / Pacific Ranges / Garibaldi Ranges / Spearhead Range
  (2 days)
Participants: Ian Hopper; Chris Underwood; Paul Henderson; Doug Fleming; Nick Vipond; Tom Kuczmierowski
Difficulty: 3: Glacier travel: The most threatening crevasses are on the Ripsaw, Overlord and Diavolo Glaciers, though this depends on the snowpack. Avalanche danger is a consideration on the many steep slopes on this trip, the worst being the slope between the Overlord and Fitzsimmons Glaciers. Storms and whiteouts are major safety consideration on this route.
The Spearhead traverse is a popular backcountry ski trip near Whistler. The route follows the Fitzsimmons and Spearhead ranges, crosses 12 glaciers, and threads through 15 gaps.
The forecast called for sun, sun, and more sun, but only 6 people called for this trip. I guess most people had enough of this year's powder and put their skis away for the season. The traverse usually starts from Blackcomb Mountain and follows a horseshoe type line through the backcountry towards Whistler Mountain. Since Blackcomb was closed for the season we had to start from the opposite side.

After a quick ride up on the Harmony Express we headed for the Musical Bumps. There were some nice turns from Flute towards Oboe, but we had to deal with a foot of slush when dropping down to the pass. From there it was a slog in a skin blistering sun to the Fissile-Whirlwind col, our destination for the day. There were only two other small groups on the trail with us, a group behind us and a group, which started a day earlier. But once we reached the col,we could see at least 20 people heading in our direction.

It took us 5 hours to reach the col, it was 3 o'clock and we debated if we should continue. We could see that the tracks leading towards the steep slope of Overlord were covered by recent slides, so we decided to stay and enjoy the rest of the afternoon . We could see the Platform Glacier and the Tremor-Shudder col, our objective for the next day. The rest of the crowd showed up a couple of hours later, but since we had the best camping spot they had to camp in the shadows of Fissile peak on the Overlord glacier.

The next morning we were ready to go by 6:30. We skied down Overlord glacier, passed the "city of tents" and started to climb towards a ridge separating Overlord and Fitzsimmons glaciers. According to Baldwin's guide, a route choice could be made there. One can either drop down to Fitzsimmons glacier and start climbing directly towards Macbeth...

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