February – April is prime time for ski expeditions. The days are longer and glaciers are filling in nicely. A perfect time for some overnight trips into far reaches of the southwest B.C. In this post I will offer some ideas for popular traverses within 100 km from Vancouver. They are sorted in the order of logistical & technical involvement, with those accessible most coming up first. For more information be sure to read my detailed trip reports and further planning resources linked in each.
Garibaldi Neve traverse, 48 km / 2 days
There are two west coast ski classics – Spearhead traverse and Garibaldi Neve traverse. Being easier of the two, Garibaldi Neve will likely be be your first touch with the glaciated landscape of the southwest British Columbia. The well established ski route is fairly mellow. The scenery, however, will be grand.
Read detailed route description and planning guide HERE.
Spearhead traverse, 46 km / 3 days
Now, this might be one of the only two traverses on this list where you will NOT be alone. Spearhead traverse used to be a major undertaking but nowadays, with chairlift access and more and more people venturing into the backcountry of Whistler-Blackcomb, this has become a very popular trip and you will have no trouble following tracks of other people, even following groups of other people. It is still a beautiful traverse, with lots of up and down, best done over 3 days. Crossing some large slopes so make sure avi rating is favourable.
Read a detailed route description HERE.
Powder Cap traverse
Coming soon… Check back on Jan 30, 2021 for a detailed trip report & maps!
Currie-Blackcomb traverse, 40 km / 2-3 days
This traverse gets less credit than it deserves. One drawback perhaps is that it requires a short, 10-minute, helicopter flight from Blackcomb heli base to the summit of Mt Currie (~$350/per person, can take up to 5 with packs and skis). But from that point on it is a smooth sailing down and towards Weart Glacier. Once there, you are in a familiar country and really close to Wedge Pass and Decker Glacier just out of Blackcomb ski resort.
Ashlu-Elaho traverse, 48 km / 4 days
A wonderful shorter traverse on the west side of Sea-to-Sky highway. Relatively gentle terrain and few technical difficulties. Access, though, is a big unknown at the moment. With forest roads in the Ashlu River valley no longer maintained by the logging/IPP projects, many of the access points are no longer easy to get to by car. Still doable for a determined party though!
Read detailed trip report HERE.
There are many more ski traverses that can be done around here, the options are literally limitless as anything past Squamish going NW is just one big backcountry stretching all the way to Alaska. The traverses I have described here are those that are well documented and easily planned and executed from Vancouver.
McBride traverse, 105 km / 6-7 days
McBride traverse crosses the entire length of Garibaldi Park and requires great route-finding skills. This is definitely a trip for someone who already has a few years experience in the backcountry as it requires travelling on glaciers and navigating in an unfamiliar terrain. While remote and involved I see more and more people doing this quintessential southwest B.C. traverse every year. Many variations of the entry and exit points exist.
Misty Icefields traverse, 120 km, 8-10 days
The mysterious, unknown Misty Icefields…. this is the feel you’ll be having crossing this rarely visited terrain where none of the peaks will be familiar to you (as they are not quite visible from Vancouver or Sea-to-Sky). Navigation is fairly straightforward though as the terrain is mostly open and easy to read. The logistics, however, won’t be. This is a Point A to point B traverse so you will need to arrange for some transportation to your starting point on the Lillooet Lake side and exit point at Pitt Lake – two vastly distant places!