Words by Brent Hillier Photos by Brent Hillier & John Kearns
Whistler is great in a lot of ways, one theme that reoccurs in my life is the benefit of learning new things on the slopes of Whistler/Blackcomb. Whether it's skiing or mountain biking I've never left the Resort without some additional skills. It's no surprise that an AST course in Whistler always delivers a fantastic learning experience. One Saturday I headed up with my friend John and introduced him to backcountry skiing, with a private AST 1.
We started the day at 8:30 at Base 2 on Blackcomb. We headed up the Gondola, then up a very chilly Excelerator Express. From there we made a few turns towards the Glacier Creek lodge and loaded the Jersey Cream Chair which dropped us off right at Blackcomb's transceiver plot. Just above the Blackcomb patrol hut is a roped off area with two buried beacons. Every week the patrol staff moves the beacons, making for a great opportunity to stay fresh on ones rescue skills.
One of the best ways to set the tone for any backcountry ski trip is to start with some beacon practise. We went over our Companion Rescue card and went through a multi-burial scenario.
After a quick review of how our rescue scenario went we skied down to the Avalanche Hut and reviewed the Whistler Avalanche Bulletin. Our next stop was Whistler Mountain and thanks to the Peak-2-Peak, it was a mere 11 minutes away.
From the Roundhouse we made our way up the Peak Chair and slide our way to the Symphony Bowl. We put the climbing skins on and started our way up Flute; talking terrain the entire time.
At the top we took in the views and entered the backcountry.
We dug a profile to explore the snowpack, then learn about compression tests. The last order of business for our AST 1 on Whistler/Blackcomb was the best part, skiing!
Stories, Pictures and Video of all my adventures, on skis and bike.