Whistler/Blackcomb's double blacks rundown

Subject: Whistler/Blackcomb's double blacks rundown From: rkumar@ichips.intel.com (Rajesh Kumar)

This is a long rambling post on 5 days I spent at whistler just now and my comments on their double black terrain for anyone interested.

I had been to Whistler before and done most of the stuff except the high alpine due to weather conditions. This time around the alpine was open all the time and I had decided to pack in as many technical runs as possible in my 5 stay.

First thing you notice is the accessibility or the lack of it for many of these runs. Further the ski-patrol/guest relations seem to be less than helpful. They are extremely helpful in general but once you start asking about specific skiable chutes they kind of get vague and almost discouraging. I got most of my information from locals I hitched on to by accident. Next time I go I will have a detailed topo map to pinpoint stuff. It also doesn't help that Blackcomb doesnot have actual markings on the terrain for these double blacks. They exist on your trail map but there are no signs on the terrain. I think this is a dangerous thing because you can go down the wrong chute and land up on a cliff top. This happened to me twice on the chutes leading into blackcomb glacier adjoining Garnet Bowl. I guess I am a whiner but marking of runs and HUGE cliffs is something I expect for an inbound marked run. If I am in the backcountry I have time to scout the complete line from below and know the nuances because you climb it before coming down. It would also be nice if the trail map or some other source gave details on the routes including objective dangers: cliff drop, rocks, narrowness etc for the double blacks so one could make good decisions. Any way enough of rambling, here is the scoop on the best runs. All pitches are what I got from guest relations so I cannot vouch for the exact degrees.


  1. Blowhole: I had heard about this from some post on the net. This is basically a natural halfpipe at the entrance to Blackcomb glacier. The pitch is 42 degree. This is definitely not a monster a previous post made it ought to be. The main objective danger other than the narrowness are a big set of rocks right in the middle. In early conditions you CANNOT tumble. This is a short but sweet run. Should be even more fun in later season on a board taking wall hits but there wasn't enough snow for that. The pitch itself is surprisingly mellow so I don't know if the 42 degree number is correct.

  2. Ruby/Diamond/Garnet chutes and bowls. These are a bunch of alternate runs leading down to Blackcomb glacier. The entrance is through Spanky's gate. There are a large number of possibilities here but some are unskiable as I found out:} These are very dependent on snow conditions and some of the terrain is probably skiable with enough snow. These seemed to have the best snow conditions and not too much traffic. The easiest line( Ruby Bowl) is actually overrated and doesnot deserve more than a single black rating. There is potential for some big air here with good steep landings.

  3. Saudan coulair area: This is a steep area coming down from Horstman glacier ridge into the Jersey cream area. There are many skiable lines here. I checked out the famous Saudan coulair. This indeed deserves a double black although it is not the hardest line on this ridge. More importantly it had the worst snow conditions from too much sideslipping traffic. It has a consistent pitch of 45 degree with a steeper entry for the first few yards. There was a group of skiers to the coulair's left who were doing a route they called the climax. This is more technical than the coulair because of a jump in the middle. They were quite condescending of my snowboard at the top but gave me tips at the end of the run. No lasting attitude problems anyway. There is a line called Picalolo(?) they told me was the hardest run on this ridge but I couldn't find it.

  4. Secret bowl/chute: This is a sweet run to the coulair's right which doesn't get much traffic. Not too technical but nice layout. Definitely worth a shot. Probably my favourite because I didn't feel shit scared.

  5. Garibaldi provincial park: This is the stuff on the other side of Blackcomb glacier. This is OB and you have to climb the whole way. There seem to be endless possibilities on this side but I didn't have the time for the climbing. Check these out if you have time.


I didn't have time to explore all the stuff in detail due to time.
  1. Whistler bowl/West bowl: These are not double black stuff per se but you have lots of possiblitiese for entry into these which are short double black stuff. I had time for one called Stephans(?) chute which was probably slightly overrated. I wasn't complaining though as the Bowls are an absolute killer area to freeride.

  2. Coulair into Glacier Bowl: This was one of the two entrances into this bowl which were open. Again a fairly short rocky run. Not a favourite in the snow conditions. Maybe worth it in better snow conditions.

I didn't get to explore the bowls fully but they have some of the best scenery and fun non-technical single black freeriding you can find in North America. Also these would be killer on a board after a powder dump but I wasn't so lucky. Next time I will explore the more tecnical lines into these.

Overall I think the grading of runs is reasonable except a couple of overratings. Most of these runs are true double blacks and not a marketing gimmick.

Rajesh. rkumar@ichips.intel.com

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