How not to get lost in the Whistler Backcountry
Please review Whistler Blackcomb's mountain signage before heading out can be found here...
Wb Mountain signage-->
SKI AREA BOUNDARY
|This sign indicates the edge of the Whistler Blackcomb’s patrolled area. Skiing or riding outside the area is done at your own risk and it is strongly recommended that you have the essential personal safety gear. Education (avalanche courses), information (Avalanche Advisory), and a qualified guide are also a must! People requiring rescue from the backcountry can be charged for their rescue. In early season, “Ski Area Boundaries” often exist within the ski area. These boundaries denote parts of the hill that are not yet ready to open. As a result, there is no hazard marking, no patrol and no sweep. Can you go there? Yes, but be prepared!|
This area is not patrolled. This means you should have competant partner, and avalanche safety equipment!!!
This sign indicates the edge of the Whistler Blackcomb’s patrolled area. Skiing or riding outside the area is done at your own risk and it is strongly recommended that you have the essential personal safety gear
How not to get lost, and stay out of trouble........
Back country users in the Whistler area should be prepared to navigate in whiteout conditions, have knowledge of local terrain, proper outdoor gear, a buddy capable of companion rescue, first aid skills, and avalanche training. Cell phones work in some areas, and not in others if your lost conserve your batteries. Always tell someone responsible where you are going, and your time of return, or file a itinerary with the mountain. If you are lost in the back country find a location where you will be visible from the air, and note any prominent landmarks, make a shelter, and stay put. Dial 911 for assistance and don't waste your cell phone batteries.
Whistler SAR would like to remind people that often they will not be reported missing early enough in the day to launch a search, and therefore stand a very good chance of spending the night out. Very likely there will be consequences to your actions.. Many tracks have been spotted from the air from people in precarious situations off the backside of Whistler mtn. Many of the incidents have gone largely unreported probably because no one knew they were out there. Orient yourself using google earth and get a good overview of the topography of the Whistler area. High resolution imagery is available so if you want to scope that new line plan your trip using google earth.
If you leave the ski area boundary into the back country you will most defiantly see signs, and probably duck a rope. Signs are attached to tree 10-15 feet in the air depending on snow pack.
You are leaving the ski area boundary
1. Avalanche transceiver 457khz(on your body)
and demonstrated ability to use it
2. A knowledgeable partner that would go out of their way to help you.
3. Shovel/ Probe
4. Knowledge of the terrain and your ability.
5. Avalanche knowledge
6. Knowledge of local avalanche conditions
7. Basic First Aid/ Survival equipment
8. Food / Water
9. Charged Cell phone, VHF radio, or Sat phone, contact numbers
10. Navigation equipment.
11. Good back country ski/ board
equip in good working order/ ability to ascend
• know this winter’s snow pack layers
• know the recent snowfall & type
• know current CAA Avalanche Center forecast, Whistler mtn Forecast
• know today’s weather forecast (snowfall, temperature & visibility)
Getting lost / How not to get lost
Ski area boundary--pink
Out of bounds/ Caution areas--yellow
Area's to get lost in-- !
Down at the lake: Cheakamus lake is easily accessed during the summer, winter is a different story! You may find yourself 15km away from any civilization. Just a bunch of stinky empty pit toilets full from the summer! Also popular shelters for unintentional night outings!
Cheakamus lake on a beauty day!
Cheakamus at nightfall as the temperature drops to -10c
A cold night in a creek
This picture is the exact spot and a popular spot to spent a cold night. Stay off the ice it's usually thin! Once again people have died here! There is a map on a bill board near the entrance to the river in a partial clearing near toilets!
Backside Whistler: (South West)
Khyber overview.kmz (google earth file)
vert ft down slope, or you will be wandering aimlessly through steep gullies, and eventually cliff bands. You have to clear the pass at this elevation by exiting to the right. The patrol has flagged a low route out (last season) with orange flagging tape follow it to your right. (this route is a little low but will return you back to civilization.) Some side stepping required, or get sucked toward Khyber cliffs, and the Cheakamus Lake area.The terrain is very convoluted in here and goes up, and down all over the place, very disorienting even to locals. If you continue walking along and not regaining the main divide you will end up at the top of Khyber cliffs. You might be left standing on top of a 2000ft cliff just as the sun goes down, and your cell phone goes dead. Exit through the cliffs is not recommended unless your a mountain goat. The main exit from the Khyber is via road in clear cut back to creek side. Don't go unless you are with someone that knows where they are going 100%. Alot of people will tell you they know where there going...Find someone that has been here for 5+ seasons to show you around.
Khyber Pass Area
Cliffs if you screw up and go too far skiers left!
Backside: (South) (Our most popular)
-CAKE HOLE Anywhere off the back of the Peak Chair will put you in here. It is a terrain trap on south west side Whistler mtn ends at a waterfall 2/3 way down flanked by cliffs. Also a Avalanche path. Ducking a rope off the back of the Peak chair (south side) will put you in here. Once your in sucked in it becomes increasing harder to escape the beast! Stay away if you don't know what your doing, you may see some tracks only to find other people lost in the cake! The trail out is at the bottom of the open area below waterfall near to the summer trail 2900ft. Then it 8km of flat back to civilization.
Waterfall at the bottom
A popular place to spend a night!
North East side:
-BELOW CAT ROAD ON HARMONY OR PICCOLO NORTH SIDE: A trail provides access to Singing pass don't miss the trail (marked with reflective markers on trees) or you will be in the creek which is a tangle of logs and is flanked in places with cliff bands, and gullies. Fitzsimmons creek is a ugly place.
North Side Whistler Mtn
-BACKSIDE PICOLLO- South west side Whistler mtn starts in steep terrain flanked by cliffs. Also a huge Avalanche path with big potential for big avalanches. Prepare for a cold night at Cheakamus lake 11km to the road!!! There is a summer trail out but it's hard to follow in winter (marked with reflective markers on trees) Stay out and don't ski off the back of Piccolo.
Avalanche path runs for 3500ft
Whistler's back country includes the musical bumps, and is more mellow than Blackcomb offering excellent back country skiing.
Garibaldi park boundary line / Stay left of Yellow line
-EAST SIDE FLUTE/ BACKSIDE- Ducking the rope of the back of Flute is a popular back country area in Garibaldi park. Many ski tourers, split boarders use this area. The usual exit is from the singing pass trail. Buy a map! Even locals in a whiteout have a tough time navigate it's broad featureless summit area. The backside of Flute towards Cheakamus Lake (going too far right of yellow line!) Will end you up in terrain you will wish you had never entered! Serious avalanche gullies start here and run right to the lake. Even it you make it to the lake you might as well be on the backside of the moon! Exit to the right via cheakamus lake trail (if you can find it!)Don't go east up the lake to what is called moose meadows, putting yourself even further away into the middle of nowhere!! The usual entrance to the park is along the ski area boundary sign line about 2/3 of the way along it. (going left off summit follow rope then cut right towards oboe) If you don't have back country equipment do not use this area!
Backside Piccolo / Cheakamus Lk
Moose meadows on not such a nice day!
From the heli looking for two lost skiiers
-BELOW 7TH HEAVEN: A tangle of steep terrain, tight thick trees, and bluffs, if you make it to the valley you are in the middle of Fitzsimmons creek just as it gets dark. 8km away from any Civilization, you might find a snowmobile tour down the valley. The peak to peak now adds some reference fo navigation.
Below 7th Heaven
-BELOW BLACKCOMB GLACIER SKI OUT: A forest that isn't worth anybodies time. Flat tight trees with two canyon like creeks running on either side. Stay out !!
Blackcomb and Horstman Creeks
Blackcomb's backcounrty is huge! Full of big glaciers/ crevassed areas, cliffs, icefalls, gullies, and big mountain terrain. If you don't know exactly what your doing, and are very good at it please stay away. You will get spanked! Blackcomb backcountry is a place to explore once you've mastered your route finding abilities, and snowpack evaluation.
-DECKER MEADOWS: You can't get here unless you hike!!! Usual exit is via the col between Disease ridge and Decker.If your going to Corona or Husume know where your going. Blindly following tracks will lead you to Whistler Heli ski pick-up. Only to find the tracks vanish. Don't follow heli-ski tacks. The other main travel route is via a large bench on the back of Phalanx back towards the poop chutes. If your going into the Blackcomb backcountry buy a map and know how to navigate in white out conditions. A wrong turn will leave you in Wedge creek for a very cold night in a creek! People have died here before from exposure. 6-8 hours to road if you know where your going! Buy a good map and you'll be looking at a lifetime of skiing.
They are absolutely to be respected. People have died many times ducking ropes!!!!!
Duck a rope and be prepared to get yourself into a mess of trouble. Patrol will be pulling passes of individuals not respecting these closures. (your pass could be gone for a year including summer). Consider that there may be a fire in the hole (bomb above your head). Then patrol will have to stop what they're doing, and deal with you! Thus stopping their avalanche control route which then delays opening the rest of the mountain. Poaching these boundaries not only puts yourself at risk, but others who will follow your tracks.
Area's are closed for a good reason..... People routinely die here!
Enter only through gate
Travel with competent companions, and be prepared for self rescue.
RESCUE MAY NOT BE POSSIBLE!!
If you require assistance dial 911..