Spearhead: Pushing the Boundaries of B.C.’s Backcountry

Spearhead: Pushing the Boundaries of B.C.’s Backcountry

I recently re-watched the 2019 Arc’teryx production “Spearhead: Pushing the Boundaries of B.C.’s Backcountry.” The 16-minute video chronicles a group of friends on a ski tour across the legendary Spearhead Traverse. The gang crosses 13 glaciers and nine mountain passes along the classic 25-kilometer horseshoe-shaped highline that links the mountains of Blackcomb and Whistler. Rather than taking the now-popular light-and-fast day trip around the range, they opt for five days of traditional tent camping, leaving enough time to explore the storied ski-mountaineering runs in the range—including the north face of Mount Fitzsimmons, termed by the crew “the glory line.” 

Well, the glory days sure seem at risk when the screen fills with the hoards swarming the Whistler Blackcomb sidecountry. Matt Gunn, a local ski-touring advocate featured in the video, points out that as much as we love the route, we are at risk of loving it to death. The quick access from either ski resort has meant the traffic along the traverse has kept pace with the recent explosion in backcountry skiing, and there is a plan to create a Euro style hut-to-hut experience in the range.

“Spearhead” provides fascinating history of the route during a poignant interview with several of the pioneers who first ventured across the glaciated range and built the original Himmelsbach hut. The vignette is complete with vintage film footage and herringbone ascents on scrawny skis and frozen leather boots. 

The producer weaves a delicate line, not promoting a “keep it as it is” opinion, and giving advocates for the Spearhead Hut Society a chance to make the argument that the hut system will improve accessibility and better manage the increased visitor use.

It’s best you watch it and form your own opinion. For me, it was fun to get an aerial perspective of classic local lines that I haven’t skied for a few years. And, what the hell, if there is a comfy hut to park my head at the end of the day, it will give me more time to enjoy them.

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