I went skiing (or rather skittering) on the ice around Baker ski area on Friday, and decided it would be good to check out the snow up in Canada. Jon Schleder, a friend from Alaska, and I drove up to Vancouver Saturday night, planning to backcountry ski somewhere the next day. After answering weird questions from the Border Patrol and getting lost in Vancouver, we found Sky Sjue’s house, checked out some maps of the Whistler area, and sacked out in Sky’s backyard.
The next morning, we met up with Mike and Andy Traslin and Thomas Brunner, and caravanned up to Whistler ski area. The weather called for clearish skies in the morning with some clouds and light snow in the afternoon. Driving up, it was fairly cloudy already, and we wondered if we would be able to get to Fitzsimmons before it moved in. We decided there was a chance we could, bought one-ride tickets at Whistler, and headed up the lifts.
Once off the lifts, I asked someone in our group which one of the peaks was Fitzsimmons. “You can’t see it yet. It’s behind those mountains,” was the reply. Darn that looks super far, I thought to myself. We started off at a good pace, with clouds above us and blue sky to the east. We kept the pace up, and made it to the top in about 4 hours. We skinned to within a hundred feet of the top, with an easy bootpack from then on. We even had a bit of sunshine as we sat on the summit.
We skied down the top of the west side, and then the north face down to the glacier. The snow was pretty good powder for backcountry skiing, with a two inch wind slab in spots. The weather started to move in as we skied down, and the light became quite flat. By the time we were on the glacier, you could hardly see the top of the peak. We’d hit it just right. We had a great 3,000 vertical foot run, and then followed the creek in the valley bottom for a little while.
We skinned back up and headed for the top of Cowboy Ridge. By the time we got to the top it was dark. We donned headlamps, and had some great nighttime powder skiing down to Singing Pass trail. Then there was 8 miles of an icy traverse track that is Singing Pass trail. No trip report can address the incredible joy and fun of an 8 mile icy traverse, so I won’t even try.
Second time backcountry skiing in the Whistler area, had a great time. Still haven’t skied on the ski area though. Who needs that, right? Twelve hours, a good amount of vertical, and about 20 miles of distance. The icy traversing is world-class as well. I will definitely be back soon.