Course Description

The essence of ski mountaineering racing is moving efficiently through challenging winter alpine terrain. We’ve designed a course with this very much in mind. Utilizing the amazing terrain of Blackcomb Mountain in Whistler, BC, this will be an incredible event!

Below we describe our ideal course, this is subject to change or cancellation based on conditions though we’ll be working closely with ski patrol to make the magic happen. Please understand that our goal is to provide you with the absolute best racing experience possible but we will only hold the race if we can be absolutely sure of racer safety.

Basics:

    • Start at the Rendevouz Lodge at the top of the Blackcomb Gondola
    • Finish at the Glacier Creek Lodge on Blackcomb Mountain
    • Long Course: ~1200 meters of ascent, 1500 meters of descent
    • Short Course: ~700 meters of ascent, 1000 meters of descent
    • Race Duration: 1.5 to 3hrs
    • These stats are subject to change and the final course will be announced at the mandatory racer meeting.

 

THE ROUTE

Please find an example of our “Plan A” course below. We will be doing everything in our power to make this race happen as planned but the course will evolve over the next few months as we tweak logistics with Blackcomb Ski Patrol. The final course will be announced here prior to the race and via social media. Any race day changes will be noted at the MANDATORY racer meeting.
 
Currently this course has four ascents and descents with at least two boot packs. One boot pack (Purple Haze) may require boot crampons and will be equipped with a hand line. Descents will be double black diamond runs and will tentatively include Pakalolo and Spanky’s Ladder. You must be prepared to ski these in any conditions (powder, windboard, moguls, ice). If you aren’t sure – get up there and ride the lifts to give them a try! 
 
The course will use a conventional race marking system: green for ascent with skins, yellow for ascent on foot, and red for descent without skins. 
 

We will do OUR BEST to follow this route. If avalanche conditions dictate a change of course, this will be communicated to athletes via email (based on registration), through our event Facebook Page, and at the pre-race meeting. Please do follow these resources during the lead-up to the race and don’t be surprised by any changes. We will be sending out updates whenever possible!

CAN I DO THIS?

This course will be challenging for all participants and while it intended for first time racers, it is NOT a good time for someones first time on backcountry skis. Racers in both courses will experience very challenging skin tracks (on the ascent) that **will be frustrating** for beginner ski tourers. The descents will range from open alpine bowls to tight trees in steep chutes. If you cannot execute a turn in close proximity to trees OR are unable to sideslip around obstacles, this race is not for you. If you aren’t sure, go do a day of lift served skiing on Blackcomb and try out the descents!

Because of time limitations for both volunteers (we don’t want them to freeze) and concerns with public interaction on the hill, we will have strict time cutoffs that ensure all athletes have returned to the finish line within three hours. For athletes registered in the Long Course, if you reach the cutoff point (announced at pre-race meeting) beyond that time, you will be directed to continue via the short course and included in those results – please don’t be offended, it means you get lunch and prizes sooner!

 

What if the weather sucks or avi conditions are bad?

We’re going to do everything in our power to make this race happen. That being said, the nature of the event makes it very susceptible to weather and conditions. Here’s a few things to keep in mind:

  • Our event backup day is April 7th. When you register you will be prompted to acknowledge that you understand the race MAY BE DELAYED TO APRIL 7th. This will likely be announced in the week prior to the event. If we see an incoming storm for the 6th but a much better forecast for the 7th. We will proactively decide to move it. 
  • If both days look equally bad, we may shorten the course to be within easier terrain for BSP to do avalanche control.  This may be announced as late as the morning of the race.
  • In the days leading up to the event, our organizers will be preparing the course with our guide team who is responsible for ensuring competitor safety. They will be forecasting avalanche risk along with BSP throughout the course on specific features. If certain terrain features are deemed unsafe, the course may be changed or cancelled. 
  • We’ll be doing our best to run the race in some form on one of the two optional days. One of the big positives of holding the event at the Ski Area is that their avalanche control program and ski patrol allows us to run in worse weather than a backcountry event. 
  • By registering, you acknowledge that all this is a possibility!
You might be getting the idea that there’s a lot that could go wrong. We’ve got plans in place to deal with bad conditions but if safety becomes an issue, we’re not taking any risks. We will be VERY communicative via race social media/email list/website about any anticipated issues so you won’t be surprised. It’s the event’s first year so bear with us and let’s make it rad!