Over towering mountains, through powder-strewn glaciers and down precipitous cliff-side drops, the Spearhead Traverse connecting Blackcomb and Whistler mountains isn’t for the faint of heart.
Recently, local TikToker Ben Rowe, known for his expansive pre-work adventures in the Sea to Sky backcountry, took his 27,000 followers with him on a journey through the breathtaking traverse, all in a day.
“I've wanted to do that for maybe the last three years. I tried a few other times, but I never really got the window, and this year, there's only been about two windows to attempt it. So, yeah, I was super stoked to get it done,” Rowe said.
The Spearhead Traverse is an expansive ski-touring journey that connects the two famous mountains though a series of glaciers in a U-shape. Long before the Peak to Peak Gondola, the traverse was the main connector, offering world-class ski-touring terrain that typically spans between 30 and 40 kilometres, depending on the route, and requires skiers to pass over 13 glaciers and 11 mountain passes.
Depending on conditions, people tend to do the route in two to four days, with some pitching tents and camping on the glaciers, or spending the night at a mountain hut along the way.
Rowe likes to share his backcountry adventures through the popular video-sharing app to educate people on what ski mountaineering is and to show people some of the spectacular spots in the region. “What I tried to do is bring ski mountaineering to the average person, and through my TikTok, I'm able to do that; I can communicate it in a way that other people that aren't into this can understand. And so that's kind of my goal," Rowe said.
While Rowe’s expansive 11-hour journey across the traverse is impressive, it doesn’t come anywhere near the record for the fastest completed time. That record goes to Eric Carter and Nick Elson, who completed the Spearhead-lite traverse, starting at the top of the Blackcomb Mountain and going to the top of Whistler Mountain in three hours and 10 minutes in 2013.
The full traverse record, from the base of Blackcomb to Whistler Village, goes to Brendan Armstrong and Jessie McAuley, who achieved the feat in six hours and 27 minutes.
For his first time completing the traverse, Rowe felt like it went well, and although rapidly changing conditions made his group of adventurers change course a few times, he is excited to try it again soon, on a day with better conditions. He also wants to tackle the full traverse—all before punching in the clock at work.
“I've had it on the top of my list to do before work for the last year. In the next two weeks, I think I'm going to go valley-to-valley before work. That'll be a 2 a.m. wake-up, and I think we can do it in under 10 hours if the conditions are alright,” Rowe said.
If you want to try the Spearhead Traverse, remember to go with someone and be prepared with avalanche training and emergency equipment, or better yet, with a professional guide who knows the area. Whistler Blackcomb backcountry lift tickets can be purchased for $45 at the ticket window, if you're looking to access to the area through the resort's lift system.
More information on the traverse can be found here.
Check out Rowe's TikTok page here.