Whistler/Blackcomb's double blacks rundown
Subject: Whistler/Blackcomb's double blacks rundown
From: email@example.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
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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
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