We decided to checkout the Blackcomb Backcountry for some early season skiing during the holiday break. It was our first time, so it was an exploratory mission, but we hoped to get some good skiing in the process.
After checking the lift and gate status for the Backcountry Uphill Access Routes and went with Option 6 on the Whistler Blackcomb Backcountry website. It’s a pretty typical route for this time of year, as the high alpine tends to be closed with access to the Blackcomb backcountry limited to the Lower Cloud 9 gate.
The weather wasn’t exactly cooperating with wild temperature fluctuations a few days prior, so the avalanche conditions on the Avalanche Canada Map were touch and go.
We rode the Blackcomb Gondola up in order to take the Expressway down to the bottom of 7th Heaven and waited in the lift line. We were hoping to take it up so we could get a run in as we traverse over for a slightly higher entry point, but after waiting thirty minutes past the projected start time for the lift we decide to just start skinning. This allowed us to take the lift later in the day for alternative exit if we wanted.
Once we got out of the trees and got a look at Blackcomb and Disease Ridge we noticed it looked a lot more bony than we had naively expected.
Approaching Disease Ridge from the bottom of 7th Heaven.
We continued working our way up the ridge, stopping at the first rock cropping and deciding to drop in an test the snow out. That pocket was deeper than expected, but there were no obvious signs of reaction.
In the process, we saw two parties go through the mousetrap towards the Decker-Disease Ridge col, so we decided to follow as that was one of the potential tours we had planned for the day.
Working our way out of the mousetrap to the Decker-Disease Ridge Col.
We caught up to one of the parties at the col and transitioned before dropping down to Circle Lake for a short fun little ski. As we transitioned on Circle Lake to work our way up the East Col, the sun came out for a short bit lightening the mood for the day.
The visibility also opened up a little and the expansiveness of the area really sunk in at that point.
A ray of sunlight shining down on Circle Lake as we head towards the East Col.
We stopped at the top of Body Bag, hoping to get an idea if the entrance was in, then worked our way to the top of East Col. We chatted with the party that was in front of us, sharing objectives and observations of the day, and in the process learning they were locals and this lap was their early season tradition.
Apparently the other party, who I happened to overhear having a conversation with ski patrollers earlier in the day clarifying the uphill policy, continued on even though the area was closed due to avalanche control, not an uncommon thing this time of year.
Tip: Don’t go down Blackcomb Glacier or you can loose access privileges for a year.
Checking out the entrance to Body Bag Bowl from Decker-Blackcomb Col.
The party in front of us said they planned on doing Body Bag as well, so we followed suit knowing we had knowledgeable people to observe as they worked there way through the rocky entrance.
Getting into Body Bag didn’t end up being as bad as I thought, we had to take our skis off for a short section, but we had the luxury of following their boot pack.
Looking back at our tracks on Body Bag.
The rest of Body Bag was fantastic and there was lots of hooting and hollering as we worked out back to the base of Seventh Heaven. Due to the time of day, we decided to ski our Sunset and it was the possibly the most miserable decent. It’s fairly narrow, combined with being fairly crowded and fairly icy, making for a seemingly never ending sufferfest considering our legs were already cooked.
We ended up going back to Disease Ridge the next day and opted to exit via 7th Heaven and the working towards Husame, and that was a much more pleasurable exit. Overall, it’s a great area with great access and looking forward to getting back out there once things are filled in more.