Blackcomb to Lillooet Lake traverse
Yesterday, Steve Whitall, Chad Sayers and myself completed a traverse from Blackcomb to Lilllooet lake in a one day push. We traveled from the Spearhead glacier, to Wedge Pass, up what's left of the Berma glacier and crossed the Needles glacier. The Carter glacier took us to ridgelines that we worked over to Gunsight SW1 where we descended to the Tenas Narrows bridge. Spectacular traverse covering approximately 40km and 2500m of climbing.
With Thursday being the hottest day of the year so far we had some doubts on our ability to complete the traverse. However conditions were much better than expected.
High north aspects had not yet been overly cooked and still were winterlike. Below treeline was isothermal on solar aspects, but good travel conditions in the shaded forest areas. Once in the alpine, ski pen was generally 5cm on a supportable crust, including solar aspects. Terrain in close proximity to rocks and buried trees was isothermal and touchy, particularly around treeline. Even with the warm temps as soon as the sun departed a slope the radiative cooling rapidly left a supportive crust.
With the heat we chose our line carefully to avoid overhead hazards and large solar slopes. However, we witnessed no activity larger than sz 1 (multiple) originating from very steep, rocky solar terrain. Recent slides to sz 2 were evident on all solar slopes. These slides did not pull out any slabs. Of note, we passed by debris of a recent sz 3 in E facing terrain at approximately 7000' which ran several thousand feet. We unfortunately could not see the crown. We did not notice any cornice failures along our route and there was certainly some large ones out there.
Overall great conditions despite the heat. Cooler temps this weekend should provide an even better overnight crust to form and allow for some quick travel. As our snowpack transitions into spring, be mindful of the solar input as the day progresses and the overnight crust breaks down.
Enjoy the gorgeous weather. Lots of snow still up there!