FMCBC Update on Planning for Uphill Ski Routes through Blackcomb Resort
As part of the Master Development Agreement (MDA) between the Province and Whistler-Blackcomb, Blackcomb is required to provide public access through their controlled recreation area (CRA) for the public to access the Spearhead Range in Garibaldi Provincial Park. Whistler-Blackcomb (now a subsidiary of Vail Resorts) has been avoiding this requirement for many years. The BC Mountaineering Club (BCMC) found the wording in the MDA and has been pushing the Mountain Resort Branch (part of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations) and Whistler-Blackcomb to meet this requirement.
Southside Low Route – this route would follow the proposed alternate Singing Pass access route towards the IPP starting near Lot 8 and heading up the IPP penstock right-of-way beside the sliding centre. It then continues along the IPP access road to just south of the Peak-to-Peak Gondola cut where a steep switchback section would head from an elevation of about 1000m towards the bottom of Seventh Heaven Lift at 1650m.
Benchlands to Benchlands route – This route would head north of the ski area possibly starting near Lot 6. The route would traverse second growth forest to the Garibaldi Park boundary and then follow Blackcomb Creek to just before the Poop Chutes where the route would head northeast towards a bench below Phalanx Mountain.
FMCBC Looking for Input
I attended the meeting representing the FMCBC and the ACC Vancouver Section. My initial feedback is that the proposed “Southside Low Route” does not have a sustained climb since it is steep at the beginning, flat for two km and then steep for about 1500 m of elevation gain. I would prefer a route that has a sustained grade of about 10% without so many switchbacks.
I suggest that we and the Blackcomb Patrol explore a route just south of Lower Gear Jammer outside of the ski area boundary on the Whistler Trail Map. Higher up, the route would have to cross Sunset Boulevard and traverse up across some seldom used glade runs such as: Raptors Ride, Where’s Joe, Watch Out and Yard Sale to reach the bottom of Seventh Heaven. I think this would meet Blackcomb Patrol’s desire to have the route not impact their heavy use runs and create obstacles for downhill skiers and boarders.
The proposed northern “Benchlands to Benchlands” route has been used in the past. I skied up a similar route about 35 years ago with a heavy pack. This route will be a pleasant trip, but it is not a direct way to the Spearhead Range. I have created a more detailed route description that I’m looking for feedback on.
Another related item is the cost of a single ride Backcountry Access ticket. The BCMC didn’t seem too interested in this since it was outside of their interests. However, I think VOC members and many of our members find that the current price ($80?) for a Backcountry Access ticket is out of reach for their budget. I asked WB if there was any way to reduce that for students or our members.
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