The Spearhead

August 19, 2021


Whistler, BC

The Spearhead is the highest of the three summits immediately above Blackcomb Gondola in the Spearhead Range and because of the gondola this area is very accessible in both winter and summer. This summit can be easily done on skis or alternatively, in summer as a scramble. The scramble is even written in Matt Gunn’s Scrambles in SW British Columbia. Regardless the season this peak can be easily combined with Blackcomb Peak to make a twofer and that’s exactly the plan between Holly and myself. Earlier in the day we had taken the gondola up and climbed the “Blackcomb Buttress” on Blackcomb Peak which was an introductory level alpine climb.

Blackcomb Peak (via Buttress), and The Spearhead loop. GPX DL

From Blackcomb/Spearhead col we mostly just followed the connecting ridge to the SW flanks of The Spearhead. There were a few minor bumps to traverse over and some class 2-3 scrambling was required. We stayed reasonably high on the ridge while traversing over those bumps but on the way back we stayed lower and bypassed some steps. The last 50 vertical meters to the summit was a slog fest on talus field which was easy but not very enjoyable. The view was however, much better than from Blackcomb Peak.

This is looking towards Horseman Hut area from near Blackcomb/Spearhead col
Holly posing in front of the two lakes near Decker Glacier
Holly plodding up with Blackcomb Peak behind
Holly nearing the summit of The Spearhead now
Partial Summit Panorama from The Spearhead. Click to view large size.
Partial Summit Panorama from The Spearhead. Click to view large size.
The very dry Spearhead Glacier is apparently a heli-ski paradise in winter
Mt. Pattison and Tremor Mountain, the highest peaks on Spearhead Range
Phalanx Mountain looks mysterious with the low clouds coming in and out
Decker Mountain behind one of the Decker Lakes
Holly and I on the summit of The Spearhead

Without doing much lingering we quickly made our way back to the north shoulder of Blackcomb Peak. I led us back across some ledges on the west side of a couple bumps to avoid unnecessary elevation regain. We decided to make a loop traverse by going towards Horseman Hut area as per the scrambles book. The ridge was fun, but a bit more involved than expected. After descending the NW Ridge we had to plod up and over a “jagged towers” section that none of us had done a lot of research about. We came to a dead-end with no obvious bypass and there’s where Holly pulled out the beta. We then backtracked and down-climbed onto the south side of the ridge crest and traversed some exposed ledges. This whole stretch also involved more up-and-down than expected, such that by the time we made to just before the last bump we only had half an hour’s time left.

Time to descend The Spearhead with lots and lots of talus hopping
Another wider photo of Decker Mountain and the lakes
All of those are sub-summits of Blackcomb Peak near Horseman Hut
I led us back across a traverse line to avoid some undulating terrain
Me plodding back across the undulating ridge to Blackcomb/Spearhead col
Holly almost back at Blackcomb/Spearhead col
There’s still a bit of scrambling to drop down into the col
Looking back at The Spearhead
Me descending Blackcomb Peak via the scramble route
Ahead would be that jagged towers section on the ridge
Holly scrambling with Blackcomb Glacier behind
Looking south towards that small lake we approached from
Phalanx Mountain behind Blackcomb Glacier
Nearing the jagged towers, we were soon forced to backtrack
We found an exposed ledge on the south side to bypass some towers
We ascended back onto the ridge after bypassing a few towers
That lake again, with Whistler Mtn. and Singing Pass behind

Instead of plodding up and over the last bump to the hut I led us descending a short-cut to intersect the road that connected the hut to the gondola station. This section looked innocent on the map, but involved some never-ending boulder-hopping and took ages. By the time we finally joined the road we only had 15 minutes left and we must cover 2 km distance along with 300 m of elevation loss. This sounded close, but doable. We decided to run to catch the gondola even though that meant to run in mountaineering boots carrying 30 lb backpack for me. I somehow managed to keep running the whole time and we got to the station with 6 minutes of spare. Our feet were sore, but we were happy to not have to walk an additional 2 hours down the hillside.

We bypassed this last bump by dropping down into the south side
That would be Horseman Hut
The short-cut descent was not very pleasant with a shit ton of boulder hopping
Looking back at the west face of Blackcomb Peak
Finally we made down to the road
We must maintain at least a 6 km/h pace so the only way was to run
Me running… I pushed hard to not miss the gondola ride…
Holly running…
The destination’s in sight… We made it…
Holly and I at the gondola station with 6 minutes of spare
Me posing for one last shot before the down ride

After the trip we drove to Splitz Grilled for a dinner and that was good as always. The drive home after that was tiring, but at least the traffic was pretty chilled on this weekday.