Blackcomb, 1/13/08

Tony Crocker

Staff member
After 4 days of fog, snow and wearing goggles (some of you know how resistant I usually am to that), Sunday morning produced the only blue skies of the 5-day trip. I met Ralph, Tom and Federica at Rendezvous on Blackcomb, took a warmup Jersey Cream cruiser and then watched the previous day's video shot on Whistler's Bagel Bowl.

A couple of runs on 7th Heaven revealed snow more wind-affected than the past 3 days, so we headed up to the Blackcomb Glacier, skied Blowhole and then found a few spots with softer snow. With more clouds on the way we went back up to Spanky's Ladder and Ruby Bowl before taking a late lunch.

I had time for one run before hitting the road for Vancouver airport, and I had hoped to ski Sapphire Bowl for the first time. But the fog had rolled in again, so I thought it was prudent to follw Ralph through Secret Bowl and Pakololo, both of which had great snow for my final run.

5 days, 108,700 vertical, 39K of powder. An average ratio for admin, but very good by my more modest standards.

Finally, some decent weather for pictures!








tony - you were here at the right time. conditions have been about as good as they get for the past few weeks. i have found that from about dec 15 - jan 15 we get the most / best snow, with pretty consistently cold temps.

a friend sent me some pretty cool pics of that avi that ran above blackomb glacier. it was pretty huge - class 3 apparently. i posted 'em here:

avi pics
I love Whistler.

I question the person more than the place when someone says they had a bad time there.

Is this inverted? It's just not orienting to me correctly.

Blackcomb Glacier is kinda N-S with Sapphire on the east-facing/west-located slope. Right?
My impression was that those steep bowls from Spanky's ladder were all close to north facing. The pictures were taken close to noon, so the shadows should be pointing north. But now we have Google Earth to answer questions like this.

Blowhole, the upper glacier and Sapphire to Ruby Bowls all face northeast. The Blackcomb glacier fall line bends gradually to skier's left and is facing northwest when it passes below those bowls. The runout trail continues the bend and eventually faces west, parallel to the Solar Coaster and Excelerator fall lines.

I've never seen anything other than dry winter snow on either the Blackcomb Glacier or the Spanky's bowls. The open glacier can get some wind effect, but the steeps from Spanky's are exceptionally well sheltered.

I question the person more than the place when someone says they had a bad time there.
I'm inclined to agree with this, but the visibility does create issues in finding the best lines, even with 15 prior days there before this trip. I did a decent navigation job Thursday but not so good at times on Friday. On my own I wasn't going to look for the more technical entrances to steep terrain in the fog and snow. If you turn the navigation job over to Extremely Canadian or other knowledgeable locals you won't be disappointed.

I was lucky that my first 3 days back in 1991 were clear, though with about 70% spring conditions. I do think Whistler is not a good place for beginners (teaching areas are low down where snow conditions are variable) and somewhat less than ideal for low intermediates.

For advanced intermediates and up terrain is unbeatable in North America. And upper mountain snow consistency is first-rate.