Ablation Zones in Garibaldi Park, Whistler

Garibaldi Park Whistler Geology: Ablation ZoneAblation Zone: the lower altitude region of a glacier where there is a net loss of ice mass due to melting, sublimation, evaporation, ice calving or avalanche.  The ablation zone of a glacier such as the Wedgemount Glacier has meltwater features such as englacial streams and a glacier window.  An englacial stream refers to meltwater flowing inside a glacier.  A glacier window is a cave-like opening at the mouth of a glacier where meltwater runs out.  The ablation zone is located below the firn line.  Firn originated from Swiss German and means "last year's snow".  It has been compacted and recrystallized making it harder and more compact than snow, though less compact than glacial ice.  A glacier such as the Wedgemount Glacier which stretches from Wedge Mountain down toward Wedgemount Lake, the ablation zone is very beautiful.  A big pool of meltwater spills down the rock face and into turquoise coloured Wedgemount Lake.  The pool of water is at the toe of Wedgemount Glacier and the large glacier window appears like a huge, gaping mouth.  Big chunks of ice float in the pool and chunks of glacier split off into the water.  Whistler and Garibaldi Park Geology: Ablation Zone continued...

Ablation Zone Wedgemount Glacier

Accumulation Zones in Garibaldi Park, Whistler

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to Z: Accumulation ZoneAccumulation Zone: the area where snow accumulations exceeds melt, located above the firn line.  Snowfall accumulates faster than melting, evaporation and sublimation removes it.  Glaciers can be shown simply as having two zones, the accumulation zone and the ablation zone.  Separated by the glacier equilibrium line, these two zones comprise the areas of net annual gain and net annual loss of snow/ice on a glacier.  The accumulation zone stretches from the higher elevations and pushes down, eventually reaching the ablation zone near the terminus of the glacier where the net loss of snow/ice exceeds the gain.  The Wedgemount Glacier in Garibaldi Provincial Park in Whistler is an ideal place to see an accumulation zone up close.  From across Wedgemount Lake you can see the overall picture of both the accumulation zone and ablation zone of a glacier.  The Wedgemount Glacier is also relatively easy and safe to examine closely and hike onto.  The left side of the glacier is frequented in the summer and fall months by experienced hikers on their way to Wedge Mountain and Mount Weart.  Extreme caution is always needed and if you don't know how to remain safe while travelling on a glacier, you should avoid doing so.  Whistler and Garibaldi Park Geology: Accumulation Zone continued...

Accumulation Zone Wedge Glacier

Aiguilles in Garibaldi Park, Whistler

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to Z: AiguilleAiguille: a tall, narrow, characteristically distinct spire of rock. From the French word for "needle". Used extensively as part of the names for many peaks in the French Alps.  Around Whistler and in Garibaldi Park you will find several distinct aiguilles.  Shown here is the prominent aiguille that stands like a tower at the summit of Rethel Mountain above Wedgemount Lake.  Standing near the hut at Wedgemount Lake, Rethel is the towering mountain directly across the lake.  If you are looking at Wedge Mountain from Whistler Village, Rethel Mountain is the second mountain to the left of Wedge.  In order they are Wedge Mountain, Parkhurst Mountain and Rethel Mountain.  Parkhurst Mountain stretches down the valley to Parkhurst Ghost Town at the shore of Green Lake.  Across Wedgemount Lake and still visible from Whistler are Mount Weart, Armchair Glacier and Cook Mountain.  If you are new to Whistler and are unfamiliar with Wedge Mountain, it is the strikingly wedge-shaped mountain that dominates the skyline from many places in Whistler.  Whistler and Garibaldi Park Geology: Aiguille continued...

Aiguille in the Tantalus Range

Alpine Zones in Garibaldi Park, Whistler

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to Z: Alpine ZoneAlpine Zone or Alpine Tundra is the area above the treeline, often characterized by stunted, sparse forests of krummholz and pristine, turquoise lakes.  Mount Sproatt is an excellent example of an alpine zone in Whistler.  Dozens of alpine lakes, rugged and rocky terrain and hardy krummholz trees everywhere you look.  The hostile, cold and windy climate in the alpine zones around Whistler make tree growth difficult.  Added to that, the alpine areas are snow covered the majority of the year.  Other good places to explore alpine zones in Whistler and Garibaldi Park are Wedgemount Lake, Blackcomb Mountain, Whistler Mountain, Black Tusk, Brandywine Meadows, Brew Lake, Callaghan Lake Provincial Park, and quite a lot more.  Located within sight of Whistler Village, Wedge Mountain is the highest mountain in Garibaldi Provincial Park.  Just a relatively short, 7 kilometre hike takes you to this mountain paradise of impossibly turquoise water and jagged mountain peaks all around.  The shortness of the hike to Wedgemount Lake lulls hikers into thinking it is an easy trail.  Whistler and Garibaldi Park Geology: Alpine Zone Continued...

Alpine Zone Wedgemount Lake, Whistler

Arêtes in Garibaldi Park, Whistler

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to Z: AreteArête: a thin ridge of rock formed by two glaciers parallel to each other. Sometimes formed from two cirques meeting. From the French for edge or ridge.  Around Whistler and in Garibaldi Provincial Park you will see dozens of excellent examples.  At the Wedge-Weart Col above and beyond Wedgemount Lake is a prominent arête that links these two of Garibaldi Park's highest mountains in.  Wedge Mountain is 2892 metres(9488 feet) and Mount Weart is 2835 metres(9301 feet).  Wedgemount Lake is one of the most spectacular hikes in Garibaldi Provincial Park. Though it is a relentlessly exhausting, steep hike, it is mercifully short at only 7 kilometres.  The elevation gain in that short distance is over 1200 metres, which makes it a much steeper hike than most other Whistler hiking trails.  Whistler and Garibaldi Park Geology: Arete Continued...

Arete Above Wedgemount Glacier

The Barrier in Garibaldi Park

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to Z: The BarrierThe Barrier formed as a result of huge lava flows from Clinker Peak on the west shoulder of Mount Price during the last ice age.  About thirteen thousand years ago, the Cheakamus River valley was filled by an enormous glacier, part of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet.  Lava flowed from Clinker Peak and pressed up against the massive glacier.  The lava ponded and formed what geologists call an ice-marginal lava flow.  An ice-marginal lava flow is interesting because it causes the lava flow that pools against the glacier to cool relatively quickly forming a solid, rock barrier.  Behind this barrier of rock, a lava pool forms.  As the glacier retreats as it did after the last ice age, this barrier remains and is characterized as large, steep and unstable.  The Barrier was formed in this way from this massive lava flow from Clinker Peak.  The lava flow has been studied in detail and four “lobes” have been identified.  The First Lobe, closest to Clinker Peak pushes into Garibaldi Lake separating Price Bay from the Garibaldi Lake campground.  The Second Lobe covers the area separating Garibaldi Lake from Lesser Garibaldi Lake and is the lobe that created Garibaldi Lake.  The Third Lobe formed The Barrier and created Lesser Garibaldi Lake.  The Fourth Lobe extends from The Barrier and can be seen today as the very abrupt cliffs along the opposite side of the Rubble Creek valley. 

The Barrier - Hike in Whistler Glossary

In the spring of 1856 more than 25 million cubic metres of rock from The Barrier crashed down the valley of what is today called Rubble Creek.  The incredible torrent of volcanic rock boulders crashed down the valley more than 6 kilometres at a speed of more than 30 metres per second.  The vertical distance of the debris flow was over 1000 metres measured from the top of The Barrier to the end of the debris field where Rubble Creek meets Cheakamus RiverWhistler and Garibaldi Park Geology: The Barrier Continued...

Battleship Islands in Garibaldi Park

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZThe rocky and narrow row of islands in Garibaldi Lake just offshore from the Garibaldi Lake campsite are known as Battleship Islands.  Named by the prolific mountaineer Neal Carter in 1927 "..because they are a group of tiny islands with often a single tree as a mast, presenting the appearance of boats, as viewed from Panorama Point(a lookout on Panorama Ridge)."  The name "The Battleship Islands" originally appeared on AJ Campbell's 1928 map of Garibaldi Provincial ParkGaribaldi Park maps since 1957 have officially shortened the name to "Battleship Islands. 

Battleship Islands from Panorama Ridge

Bears in Whistler & Garibaldi Park

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZWhistler, the surrounding mountains, and Garibaldi Provincial Park are home to two types of bears.  Black bears and grizzly bears.  Black bears are frequently seen throughout the valley and often in Whistler Village.  Grizzly bears, on the other hand, are rarely seen, and only deep in the wilderness, well away from Whistler Village.  Black bears around Whistler are generally skittish and will flee into the forest when approached by people.  Unlike grizzly bears, black bears are usually shy and rarely aggressive toward people.  If you surprise a bear, make it feel trapped or get too close, you may get swiped with a claw as the bear escapes.  To avoid conflicts with black bears, one method is to make yourself known.  For example, if hiking in the forest a bear bell is a good way to announce your approach to bears in the area.  Bears have tremendously good hearing so your foot steps should alert bears to your presence.  If you encounter a black bear in Whistler, you should make yourself heard and seen without being threatening.  Talk in a calm voice and back away from the bear slowly.  Black bear attacks tend to be entirely the fault of the humans involved.  Whether a person doesn’t back away, but tries to get closer, or tries to feed a bear.  Or a combination of these.  In Whistler, if garbage is not secured and bear proof, it will eventually attract a bear to tear it apart.  Then, a person will accidentally or purposely get too close and trigger a panicked attack from the bear.  Black bear attacks in Whistler always seem to be of this type, however even these are pretty rare. 

Blackcomb Mountain Black Bear

There has never been an unprovoked bear attack in Whistler and the provoked bear attacks result in minor scratches from a claw swipe.  Your best strategy if you find yourself in a close up conflict with a black bear is to back away if you can or fight back.  Playing dead will not help you with a black bear, however playing dead has been known to work with grizzly bears.  Whistler and Garibaldi Park Glossary: bears continued here...

Bench: Whistler & Garibaldi Park Geology

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to Z: BenchBench: a flat section in steep terrain.  Characteristically narrow, flat or gently sloping with steep or vertical slopes on either side.  A bench can be formed by various geological processes.  Natural erosion of a landscape often results in a bench being formed out of a hard strip of rock edged by softer, sedimentary rock.  The softer rock erodes over time, leaving a narrow strip of rock resulting in a bench.  Coastal benches form out of continuous wave erosion of a coastline.  Cutting away at a coastline can result in vertical cliffs dozens or hundreds of metres high with a distinct bench form.  Often a bench takes the form of a long, flat top ridge.  Panorama Ridge in Garibaldi Provincial Park is an excellent example of a bench.  The Musical Bumps trail on Whistler Mountain is another good example of bench formations.  Each "bump" along the Musical Bumps trail is effectively a benchRusset Lake in Garibaldi Provincial Park has a prominent bench adjacent to it.  The bench separates Russet Lake and Adit LakesAdit Lakes are two idyllic little tarns in a hidden valley separated from the much busier Russet Lake valley by this benchWhistler and Garibaldi Park Geology: bench continued here...

Bench Next to Russet Lake

Bergschrund or Schrund in Garibaldi Park

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZBergschrund or abbreviated schrund: a crevasse that forms from the separation of moving glacier ice from the stagnant ice above. Characterized by a deep cut, horizontal, along a steep slope. Often extending extremely deep, over 100 metres down to bedrock. Extremely dangerous as they are filled in winter by avalanches and gradually open in the summer.  The Wedgemount Glacier at Wedgemount Lake is a great and relatively safe way to view bergschrund near Whistler.  At the far end of Wedgemount Lake the beautiful glacier window can be seen with water flowing down into the lake.  From the scree field below the glacier you can see the crumbling bergschrund separate and fall away from the glacier.  Up on the glacier you fill find several crevasses.  Many are just a few centimetres wide, though several metres deep.  Hiking along the left side of the glacier is relatively safe, however the right size of the glacier is extremely dangerous as the bergschrund vary in width and can be measure only in metres instead of centimetres.  Hikers venturing up the glacier are advised to keep far to the left or only at the safe, lower edges near the glacier window.  Whistler and Garibaldi Park Geology: bergschrund continued here...

Wedgemount Glacier Bergschrund

Bivouac or Bivy: Glossary of Whistler

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZBivouac or Bivy: a primitive campsite or simple, flat area where camping is possible.  Traditionally used to refer to a very primitive campsite comprised of natural materials found on site such as leaves and branches or simply sleeping under the stars.  Often used interchangeably with the word camp, however, bivouac implies a shorter, quicker and much more basic and naturally constructed camp setup.  For example, at the Taylor Meadows campground in Garibaldi Park, camping is the appropriately used term to describe sleeping there at night as you have constructed tent platforms and are using a tent.  If instead you plan to sleep on the summit of Black Tusk, bivouacking would be more accurately used to describe what you are doing as you are not using a tent.  In the warm summer months around Whistler you will find people bivouacking under the stars in various places with just a sleeping bag.  Whistler and Garibaldi Park Glossary: bivouac continued here...

Twentyonw Mile Creek Bivouac

Blackcomb Mountain: Glossary of Whistler

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZBlackcomb Mountain along with Whistler Mountain make up WhistlerBlackcomb Ski Resort, arguably the largest ski resort in North America.  Blackcomb Mountain gets it name from its serrated, comb-like edge of black rock along its summit.  It is thought to have been named by Don and Phyllis Munday who first climbed it in 1923.  In A Passion for the Mountains: The Lives of Don and Phyllis Munday, Kathryn Bridge quotes the explorers, "Then we climbed up and built a small cairn as there was no sign of previous climbers. We suggested the descriptive name of Mt. Blackcomb. The elevation was apparently about 8,000 feet. The time was 2pm."  Neal Carter credited the Munday's with naming Blackcomb Peak in 1927 when he submitted the name for the new Garibaldi Park map being created by A.J. Campbell.  Carter wrote that it was "Descriptive of the serrated edge of black rock at the summit."  It has also been suggested that the name was already in use previous to Don and Phyllis Munday's first ascent in 1923.  An unattributed anecdote provided to the Whistler Museum in 2011 credits Alex Philip as coming up with the name.  Alex and Myrtle Philip founded Rainbow Lodge in 1914, and it seems unusual that one of the three prominent mountains directly across Alta Lake from the lodge would have remained unnamed for almost a decade.  Wedge Mountain and Whistler Mountain are on either side of Blackcomb Mountain and their names had long been in use by the few residents of Alta Lake.  A photograph at the Whistler Museum of Jimmy Fitzsimmons that is thought to be taken in 1916 with an interesting caption on the back that reads “..man packing dynamite up to Fitzsimmons Mine(half way up Blackcomb)”.  Unfortunately the date and writer of the caption remains unknown, so the reference to Blackcomb is suspected to predate the naming by Don and Phyllis Munday in 1923.

Bushwhack: Glossary of Whistler

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to Z: BushwhackBushwhack: a term popularly used in Canada and the United States to refer to hiking off-trail where no trail exists.  Literally means 'bush' and 'whack'.  To make your own trail through the forest by whacking or cutting your way through.  Often used to plot a new trail and trail markers are used to mark various routes until a preferred route is found.  In Whistler and Garibaldi Provincial Park, bushwhacking may also refer to an early season trail that is littered with fallen trees from winter storms.  Existing trails can also become overgrown and require bushwhacking to navigate through.  The Brew Lake trail in Whistler requires some bushwhacking for some of the overgrown trail.  A bushwhacker is a term used to describe someone who spends a lot of time in the wilderness.

Bushwhacking Newt Lake Trailhead

Buttress: Whistler & Garibaldi Park Geology

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZButtress: a prominent protrusion of rock on a mountain, often column-shaped, that juts out from a rock or mountain.  They are often so distinct as to be named separately from the mountain they protrude from.  Buttresses often make a viable bivouacking option on an otherwise steep mountain.  Numerous in the mountains surrounding Whistler, the term buttress is frequently heard while hiking, scrambling, ski touring and climbing.

Buttress on Whistler Mountain

Cairns & Inukshuks/Inuksuks: Glossary of Whistler

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZCairn: a pile of rocks used to indicate a route or a summit.  The word cairn originates from the Scottish Gaelic word carn.  A cairn can be either large and elaborate or as simple as a small pile of rocks.  To be effective a cairn marking a trail has to just be noticeable and obviously man-made.  In the alpine areas around Whistler, above the treeline, cairns are the main method of marking a route.  In the spring and fall when snow covers alpine trails, cairns mark many routes.  An inukshuk(also spelled inuksuk) is the name for a cairn used by peoples of the Arctic region of North America.  Both spelling versions are pronounced nearly as they are spelled.  So inukshuk is pronounced inook-shuk, and inuksuk with inook-suk.  Though an inukshuk can take many forms similar to a cairn, it is usually represented by large rocks formed into a human shape.  The word inukshuk literally translates from two separate Inuit words, inuk "person" and suk "substitute".  The 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler used the inukshuk for the logo of the games.  Today you will find several giant rock inukshuks in Vancouver and Whistler at various places.  In Whistler there is an impressive inukshuk, several metres high a the peak of Whistler Mountain.  Another huge inukshuk sits overlooking Whistler Valley at the Roundhouse next to the Umbrella Bar.  The first inukshuk that most visitors to Whistler see is the huge one on Village Gate Boulevard.  Whistler and Garibaldi Park Glossary: cairn/inukshuk/inuksuk continued here...

Cairn and Black Tusk

Chimney: Whistler & Garibaldi Park Geology

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZChimney: a gap between two vertical faces of rock or ice.  Often a chimney offers the only viable route to the summit of a mountain.  An example of this is Black Tusk in Garibaldi Provincial Park in Whistler.  The final ascent of Black Tusk requires climbing a near vertical chimney with crumbling rock all around.  Black Tusk is the extraordinarily iconic and appropriately named mountain that can be seen from almost everywhere in Whistler.  The massive black spire of crumbling rock juts out of the earth in an incredibly distinct way that appears like an enormous black tusk plunging out of the ground.  Whether you spot it in the distance from the top of Whistler Mountain or from dozens of vantage points along the Sea to Sky Highway, its unmistakable appearance is breathtaking. 

Black Tusk Chimney

Cirque: Whistler & Garibaldi Park Geology

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZCirque: a glacier-carved bowl or amphitheater in the mountains.  To form, the glacier must be a combination of size, a certain slope and more unexpectedly, a certain angle away from the sun. In the northern hemisphere, this means the glacier must be on the northeast slope of the mountain, away from the suns rays and the prevailing winds. Thick snow, protected in this way, grows thicker into glacial ice, then a process of freeze-thaw called nivation, chews at the lower rocks, hollowing out a deep basin. Eventually a magnificently circular lake is formed with steep sloping sides all around.  Cirque Lake in Whistler is a wonderful example of a cirque lake.  Cirque Glacier: formed in bowl-shaped depressions on the side of mountains.

Cirque Lake in Whistler

Class Rating System For Hiking

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZClass 1,2,3,4,5 Terrain Rating System: a rating system to define hiking, scrambling and climbing terrain levels of difficulty.  Separated into 5 levels of difficulty ranging from class 1 to class 5.  Class 1 is easy hiking/walking, to class 5 terrain, which is very difficult climbing terrain requiring ropes.   Class 5 Terrain: technical climbing terrain and rope required by most climbers for safety.  If you are looking at a vertical rock wall, you are effectively looking at class 5 terrain.  A typical gym climbing wall is replica of a class 5 terrain rock wall.  Class 4 Terrain is one grade easier than class 5 terrain.  Class 4 terrain is defined as very steep terrain which rope belays are recommended.  Though experienced climbers will find class 4 terrain relatively easy and safe to navigate, novices to climbing will find class 4 terrain difficult, frightening and dangerous.  The Lions in North Vancouver requires climbing a short section of class 4 terrain to reach the summit.  Class 3 Terrain: is defined by steep terrain requiring the use of hand and foot holds, however, not steep enough to require ropes to navigate safely.  The final chimney to Black Tusk(pictured here) would be considered a difficult class 3 section.  The final steep section of the Wedgemount Lake trail in Whistler is a characteristic class 3 terrain.  Class 2 Terrain: is defined as terrain that may require basic routefinding skills over scree slopes and somewhat steep terrain where you may need your hands for balance or safety.  The last couple kilometres to Panorama Ridge in Garibaldi Provincial Park is considered class 2 terrain with the occasional short sections of class 3 terrain.  Class 1 Terrain: is defined as a well established trail with little or no steep sections.  Class 1 trails are easy to navigate and you would have difficulty getting lost or encountering problems such as dangerous falls or rock slides.  A class 1 trail in Whistler would range from the very easy Lost Lake trails in Whistler Village to the more adventurous Cheakamus Lake trail in Garibaldi Provincial Park.  Both trails are easy, relaxing, and pose few potential dangers and challenges.

Class 3 Terrain Black Tusk Chimney

Clinker Peak and Clinker Ridge, Mount Price

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZClinker Peak is the volcanic vent on Mount Price which lava flows formed The Barrier.  Roughly 9000 years ago, Mount Price was an active volcano and Garibaldi Lake did not exist.  Where Garibaldi Lake is today was a valley that opened to the much larger Cheakamus Valley.  Driving from Squamish to Whistler, you are driving through Cheakamus Valley.  The Cheakamus Valley, 9000 years ago lay under the retreating Cordilleran Ice Sheet which at its peak covered 2.5 million square kilometres of western North America.  Lava flows from Clinker Peak ponded against this massive ice sheet and formed The Barrier.  The Barrier walled in the valley and created Garibaldi Lake.  The Barrier is part of the enormous Rubble Creek lava flow which extended northwest .  The other main lava flow extended south, then west to form Clinker Ridge. 

Mount Price is clearly visible from the Garibaldi Lake campsite, Black Tusk and Panorama Ridge.  The picture shown here was taken from Panorama Ridge and shows Mount Price and Clinker Peak quite well.  Clinker Ridge extends off behind Clinker Peak and is visible as the ridge in the background on the right.  The Barrier is off the the right of the picture, however the lava flow is visible extending up to Clinker Peak.

Cloudraker Skybridge & Raven's Eye

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZThe Cloudraker Skybridge and the Raven’s Eye Cliff Walk are new additions to the summit of Whistler Mountain.  The Cloudraker Skybridge stretches 130 metres from just steps from the top of the Peak Express Chair across to the West Ridge.  The Raven’s Eye Cliff Walk is a viewing platform that extends over 12 metres up and out from the West Ridge.  Both of these exhilarating viewing areas tower way above Whistler Bowl.  The Raven's Eye Cliff Walk gives you wonderful views over the Whistler valley as well as an excellent vantage point of the Peak Express Chair with Blackcomb Mountain and the Spearhead Range in the background.  The Spearhead Range encompasses Blackcomb Mountain and the Fitzsimmons Range includes Whistler Mountain and extends to Overlord MountainOverlord Mountain is where the two mountain ranges meet, separated by Fitzsimmons Creek that runs through Whistler Village into Green Lake.  At Whistler’s peak you can hike the cliffs adjacent to the top of the Peak Express Chair on the Whistler Summit Interpretive Walk.  This rugged, though very easy 1.6 kilometre set of trails can be done as a figure 8 loop trail.

Cloudraker Skybridge on Whistler MountainThe large area to the right as you exit the Peak Express Chair with the inuksuk and the Cloudraker Skybridge is one side of the figure 8 and the other side ascends up past the Peak Express Chair to some incredible lookouts and interpretive information boards before bending back to meet Mathews’ Traverse, the gravel road that brings you back to where you started.  Many follow Mathews’ Traverse down to the Roundhouse Lodge on a constantly descending and gorgeous 3.2 kilometre or 2 mile route past several stunning views and through the Whistler ice walls.  Cloudraker Skybridge continued here..

Carter, Neal

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZNeal Carter explored and named several mountains around Whistler in 1923 while on a two week expedition with Charles Townsend.  They documented and photographed their adventure which included first ascents of Wedge MountainMount James Turner and Diavolo Peak.  Their record of this trip is a marvellous look at the local history of Whistler and Garibaldi Park, when what is now Whistler, was a small community called Alta Lake.  Neal Marshall Carter was born in Vancouver on December 14th, 1902.  Educated at UBC and McGill Universities, he earned a PhD in Organic Chemistry. In his professional life, he was a marine biologist working in fisheries research. He was introduced to mountaineering, and to the British Columbia Mountaineering Club (BCMC) by Tom Fyles, and was a member of that Club from 1920 to 1926, when he left the BCMC for the Alpine Club of Canada.  His first love, where climbing was concerned, was the Coast Mountains of British Columbia, though he also climbed extensively elsewhere in Canada and further afield. He liked exploring new peaks, and made several first ascents in what is now Garibaldi Park.  He was a skilled surveyor, photographer, and cartographer, and created the first topographical maps of Garibaldi Park, and of the Tantalus Range in the 1920's. In the 1930's he explored peaks at the head of the Lillooet and Toba Rivers, and was a member of a team attempting a first ascent of Mt. Waddington. In the early 1940's he surveyed the Seven Sisters Range near Smithers, and was the first to climb the highest peak, Mt. Weeskinisht. He remained an active climber in the 1950's with two important first ascents: Mt. Monmouth and Mt. Gilbert.  Neal Carter was made an honorary member of the Alpine Club in 1974, and for his mapping work, he was named a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. In March, 1978 he died while swimming in Barbados, at the age of 75.  Mount Neal in Garibaldi Park is named in his honour.

Coast Mountains

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZThe Coast Mountains run from the Yukon down to Vancouver along the west coast of British Columbia in a band that averages 300 kilometres wide(190 miles).  The length of the Coast Mountains is roughly 1600 kilometres(1000 miles).  They are often referred to as the BC Coastal Range or the Coast Range.  The Coast Mountains are comprised of three mountain ranges, the Pacific Ranges, the Kitimat Ranges, and the Boundary Ranges.  The Pacific Ranges, subsection of the Coast Mountains is the mountainous area along the west coast of BC roughly parallel to Vancouver Island.  The Pacific Ranges are divided further into several smaller, easily defined groups of mountain ranges.  One of those mountain range groups engulfs Whistler and much of Garibaldi Provincial Park, the Garibaldi Ranges.  The Garibaldi Ranges cover an enormous stretch of mountainous terrain between two large river valleys.  The Lillooet River valley on the east side and the Cheakamus River/Green Lake valley on the west.  Whistler is located on the west edge of the Garibaldi Ranges, while Pemberton near the north end and Vancouver at the south end.

Coast Mountains: Spearhead Range view of the Fitzsimmons Range

The subdivisions of the Garibaldi Ranges include Garibaldi Névé, Fitzsimmons Range, McBride Range, Spearhead Range, Golden Ears, Misty Icefield and the Bastion Range.  Of these subsections, four are well known and loved by hard-core Whistler mountaineers and skiers/snowboarders.  They are the Fitzsimmons Range, the Spearhead Range, the McBride Range and the Garibaldi Névé.  Coast Mountains continued here..

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZCol: a ridge between two higher peaks, a mountain pass or saddle.  More specifically is the lowest point on a mountain ridge between two peaks.  Sometimes called a saddle or notch.  The Wedge-Weart Col is a popular destination at the top of Wedgemount Glacier.  The Wedge-Weart Col connects these two highest peaks in Garibaldi Provincial Park and is easily visible from much of the area around Wedgemount Lake.  One of the defining features of Garibaldi Park, and Wedgemount Lake in particular, is the staggering number of branching hikes from the main destination of the lake itself. For many, Wedgemount Lake and the Wedge Hut is the base for hikes to Wedge Mountain, Mount Cook, Mount Weart, Mount Moe, Mount James Turner and Mount Currie in Pemberton, crossing glaciers such as Wedgemount Glacier, Weart Glacier, Armchair Glacier, Mystery Glacier and the Needles and Chaos Glacier to name a few. 

Wedge Weart Col in Garibaldi Park

Cordilleran Ice Sheet

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZThe Cordilleran Ice Sheet covered most of north-west North America for much of the last 2.6 million years.  At the Last Glacial Maximum during the Last Glacial Period(26,500 years ago), the Cordilleran Ice Sheet likely covered as much as 2.5 million square kilometres.  Stretching from Alaska to Oregon, British Columbia was entirely covered in ice that in many places over two kilometres thick.  Approximately 9000 years ago the Cordilleran Ice Sheet was in rapid retreat and Mount Price was an active volcano.  Lava flowing from Mount Price met the ice wall that filled Cheakamus Valley and formed The BarrierThe Barrier allowed Garibaldi Lake to form, where previously it was a valley extending into Cheakamus Valley.

Cornice: Whistler & Garibaldi Park Glossary

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZCornice: a wind deposited wave of snow on a ridge, often overhanging a steep slope or cliff.  They are the result of snow building up on the crest of a mountain.  Cornices are extremely dangerous to travel on or below.  A common refrain of climbers is that if you can see the drop-off of a cornice, you are too close to the edge.  Cornices are dangerous for several reasons.  They can collapse from hiking across or they can collapse from above.  A third danger to consider is the fact that they can often trigger a massive avalanche that extends a considerable distance from its starting point.

Couloir: Whistler & Garibaldi Park Glossary

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZCouloir: a narrow gully often hemmed in by sheer cliff walls. From the French word meaning passage or corridor.  Often a couloir  is a fissure or vertical crevasse in a mountain.  Couloirs are often partially filled with scree and when covered in snow form a dramatically beautiful, near vertical channel in mountains.  Couloirs are well loved by extreme skiers and snowboarders and feature in most extreme skiing/snowboarding movies.

Crevasse: Whistler & Garibaldi Park Glossary

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZCrevasse: is a split or crack in the glacier surface, often with near vertical walls.  Crevasses form out of the constant movement of a glacier over irregular terrain.  Crevasses are both revered for their dramatic beauty and feared for their inherent danger.  Crevasses are often dozens of metres deep and less than a metre wide.  The fear of slipping into one of these ever-narrowing chasms is well founded.  When learning about safe glacier travel and roping techniques, extracting someone from a crevasse is a huge part of the training.  Crevasses are sometimes hidden by recent snow and thus instantly plunging through a a snow bridge is a constant worry during glacier travel.

Crevasse on Wedgemount Glacier

Cross-ditch: Whistler & Garibaldi Park Glossary

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZCross-ditch: a ditch that carries water from one side of a road to the other.  They are designed to intercept, direct and disperse surface water, ditch water and creek water across a road to a stable site on the downhill side of the road.  Properly constructed cross-ditches should skew at least 30 degrees from the ditch line and the excavated material should be spread on the downhill grade of the road to create a berm.  Cross-ditches differ from waterbars in that cross-ditches are larger, more visibly man-made, and designed to channel a permanent flow of water.  On active forest service roads waterbars and cross-ditches are designed to allow vehicles to cross them.  On deactivated forest service roads, cross-ditches can be constructed large enough to prevent vehicle access and to allow a more natural looking stream to permanently form.  Culvert: a tunnel used to channel water under a road, trail or embankment.  Many hiking trails in BC have culverts to direct water under, rather than over hiking trails to prevent erosion.  A more permanent and hidden way to channel water than a waterbar or cross-ditch.  Waterbars and cross-ditches are often serious obstacles for vehicles, while culverts allow for smooth vehicle crossings.

Erratic or Glacier Erratic

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZErratic or Glacier Erratic is an enormous rock that has been carried by glacial ice, often hundreds of kilometres.  Characteristic of their massive size and improbable looking placement.  Erratics are frequently seen around Whistler and Garibaldi Provincial Park.  Either as bizarre curiosities or a place to relax on in the sun.  On a sunny day, a large sun-facing erratic will often be warm and sometimes even hot, providing a comfortable and surreal place to rest.  During the last ice age, glaciers covered British Columbia, and where Whistler is today, the glaciers were two kilometres thick.  Glaciers from the last ice age can often be measured by the grinding marks made on the mountains they covered.  In the mountains around Whistler you can see just a few that poked through the glaciers, leaving their peaks jagged.  Other, shorter mountains around Whistler can be easily recognized as completely covered in ice.  Shown by their rounded, glacier ground peaks.  For an erratic to be considered a true erratic it must lay in an area with dissimilar rock types.  For example, rock and mountains around the erratic should be of different colour, texture and composition.  An erratic should look very out of place and distinct from its surroundings.

Erratic at Brandywine Meadows

Erratics are frequently the result of glaciers carrying or grinding the erratic as it slowly moves down a glacier valley.  Rock slides from mountains can deposit house sized boulders onto a glacier which then slides down a valley for centuries, eventually releasing it.  These erratics are easy to trace back to their parent rock by matching them to identical rocks up the likely ice flow route.  Erratics continued here..

The Fissile in Garibaldi Park, Whistler

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZThe Fissile is the stunning Matterhorn-looking mountain that is visible from Village Gate Boulevard in Whistler.  Looking up from Village Gate you will see the distant Peak2Peak Gondola spanning Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain.  In the background distance you will see The Fissile.  In the bright sunshine of summer it will be vibrantly coloured red.  In the evening it turns dark red then fades into an ominous black.  In the winter months, of course, The Fissile is a striking, white pyramid.  For newcomers to Whistler, The Fissile can go unnoticed for weeks, or even months.  Until you find yourself at one of the many perfect vantage points to this beautiful mountain peak, such as Village Gate Boulevard.  One little known fact about Whistler is how intricately designed the Village is.  The Village Gate entrance to Whistler Village was designed in the late 70’s with one thing in mind.  It had to have a view of The Fissile.  Originally called Red Mountain, it wasn’t until 1965 the name was changed to The Fissile.  One motivation may have been the fact that Red Mountain is a very common mountain name.  Two local Whistler legends, Karl Ricker and Neal Carter suggested the name.  Karl Ricker was the mountaineering pioneer that, along with Bert Port, Chris Gardner and Alistair MacDonald that skied and mapped out the Spearhead Traverse in 1964.

The Fissile from the Russet Lake Trail

Neal Carter was an even earlier mountaineering pioneer that was the first to explore many Whistler area mountains in the 1920’s and 1930’s.  Photographing and documenting many first ascents of Whistler area mountains like Wedge Mountain and Mount James Turner.  The name The Fissile is derived from the geological term fissility.  Fissility refers to the tendency of certain rocks to split along flat planes of weakness.  The Fissile continued here..

Fitzsimmons Creek

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZFitzsimmons Creek is the beautiful and huge creek that crashes through Whistler Village.  When walking from Whistler Village to the Upper Village, you will cross the nice, covered bridge over Fitzsimmons Creek.  It passes through Whistler Village and pours into Green Lake at the north end of Whistler.  Fitzsimmons Creek originates from Overlord Glacier and Russet Lake, about 9 kilometres up the valley that separates Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain.  The Singing Pass trail, one of Garibaldi Park's main access trails, runs parallel to Fitzsimmons Creek up to the alpine leading to Russet Lake, The Fissile, Overlord Glacier, Overlord Mountain, Musical Bumps, Whistler Mountain, and quite a lot more.  Fitzsimmons Creek, along with Mount Fitzsimmons and Fitzsimmons Glacier are named after Jimmy Fitzsimmons, a miner that worked the area a century ago.  Jimmy Fitzsimmons had a little cabin near the head of Fitzsimmons Creek in the meadow just before the the Singing Pass trail now splits left to  Russet Lake or right to the Musical Bumps trail.  The cabin was used by Neal Carter and Charles Townsend during their famous mountaineering expedition in the area in 1923.

Fitzsimmons Creek in Whistler

Fitzsimmons Range

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZThe Fitzsimmons Range is a subsection of the Garibaldi Ranges that covers the area between the valleys of Cheakamus Lake and Fitzsimmons Creek.  Fitzsimmons Creek cuts between Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain and largely originates from the Fitzsimmons Glacier.  The Fitzsimmons Glacier and Mount Fitzsimmons are part of the Overlord Massif, which gets its name from the highest peak in the area, Overlord Mountain.  Massif is a term used in geology to refer to a compact group of connected mountains that easily identify into one large mountain mass.  Massif is a French word that means “massive”.  The Fitzsimmons Range includes several locally famous summits, including the summit of Whistler Mountain, Oboe Summit, Piccolo Summit and Flute Summit.  These form the Musical Bumps trail which is a gorgeous route to the Russet Lake campground in Garibaldi Provincial Park.  Next to Russet Lake is The Fissile and next to The Fissile is Overlord Mountain.  Near Russet Lake and connecting to the Musical Bumps trail is the Singing Pass trail that descends along Fitzsimmons Creek to Whistler Village at the base of Whistler Mountain.  The Fitzsimmons Range, Fitzsimmons Creek, Mount Fitzsimmons and Fitzsimmons Glacier are named after Jimmy Fitzsimmons, a prospector that mined Whistler Mountain a century ago.  He cut a trail up between Blackcomb Mountain and Whistler Mountain to his cabin.

Fitzsimmons Range Topo Map

What today we call the Singing Pass trail and Whistler Mountain, at the time was called Avalanche Pass and London Mountain.  If you have hiked the Singing Pass trail to Whistler Mountain or Russet Lake, you will understand how appropriate the name Avalanche Pass was.  There are several creek crossings that are frequently brutalized by winter avalanches.  One section of the old access road to the original trailhead/parking lot was wiped out by an avalanche decades ago and has yet to be fixed, adding almost 5 kilometres to the trail!  Fitzsimmons Range continued here..

Garibaldi Neve

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZThe Garibaldi Névé is the large icefield that stretches out along the east side of Mount Garibaldi.  With a size of 35 square kilometers(14 square miles), the Garibaldi Névé is a subdivision of the Garibaldi Ranges, which in turn is a subdivision of the Pacific Ranges of the Coast Mountains.  The Garibaldi Névé Traverse is a tremendously beautiful and very treacherous winter skiing route that runs between Elfin Lakes and Garibaldi Lake.  It is generally done as a three day expedition beginning and ending at two BC Parks Garibaldi Provincial Park trailheads.  The Diamond Head(Garibaldi) trailhead in Squamish and the Rubble Creek, Black Tusk(Garibaldi) trailhead halfway between Squamish and Whistler.  A common itinerary is the Diamond Head(Garibaldi) trailhead to Elfin Lakes on the first day.  Sleeping in the very nice and well equipped Elfin Lakes hut.  The second day covers the difficult Garibaldi Névé which runs from the Opal Cone north of Elfin Lakes to the foot of Sentinel Glacier northeast of The Table.  The second night is usually spent at the Burton Hut at the east end of Garibaldi Lake.  The third day involves crossing the length of Garibaldi Lake to the Garibaldi Lake campground and then the comparatively easy descent to Rubble Creek.  The south to north route is favoured over the north south route because of the net elevation loss and much prized north facing ski descents.

Garibaldi Ranges

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZThe Garibaldi Ranges are a subdivision of the Pacific Ranges of the Coast Mountains.  Deriving its name from Mount Garibaldi, the Garibaldi Ranges cover the huge stretch of mountains between two enormous river valleys.  The Lillooet River valley on the east side and the Cheakamus River/Green River valley on the west.  Whistler is located on the west edge of the Garibaldi Ranges, while Pemberton near the north end and Vancouver at the south end.  The subdivisions of the Garibaldi Ranges include Garibaldi Névé, Fitzsimmons Range, McBride Range, Spearhead Range, Golden Ears, Misty Icefield and the Bastion Range. The Fitzsimmons Range is a subsection of the Garibaldi Ranges that covers the area between the valleys of Cheakamus Lake and Fitzsimmons Creek.  Fitzsimmons Creek cuts between Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain and largely originates from the Fitzsimmons Glacier.

Overlord Mountain where Fitzsimmons Range meets the Spearhead Range

The Fitzsimmons Glacier and Mount Fitzsimmons are part of the Overlord Massif, which gets its name from the highest peak in the area, Overlord Mountain.  Massif is a term used in geology to refer to a compact group of connected mountains that easily identify into one large mountain mass.  Massif is a French word that means “massive”.  Garibaldi Ranges continued here..

Garibaldi Volcanic Belt

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZThe Garibaldi Volcanic Belt is a line of mostly dormant stratovolcanoes and subglacial volcanoes largely centred around Whistler and extending through much of the Coast Mountains. Divided into sections with the Mount Garibaldi Area at the southern end and the Mount Cayley Area southwest of Whistler.   The Mount Meager Area is west of Pemberton and the Bridge River Cones Area northwest of the Meager Area.  Another section of the Garibaldi Volcanic Belt is the Silverthrone Caldera Area which is a couple hundred kilometres northwest of Whistler.  The Garibaldi Volcanic Belt makes up the northern section of the Cascade Volcanic Arc which includes Mount St. Helens, which had a major eruption in 1980. The Garibaldi Volcanic Belt is potentially active from several locations.  Mount Garibaldi, Mount Price and many of the mountains in the area were tremendously active during the last ice age less than ten thousand year ago.  Mount Price produced a lava flow that formed The Barrier and allowed Garibaldi Lake to form.  Mount Meager had several massive eruptions in the last 2 million years, with the most recent one just 2360 years ago!  This makes Mount Meager the most recent volcanic eruption in Canada.

Mount Meager in the Garibaldi Volcanic Belt

The Garibaldi Volcanic Belt is caused by the Juan de Fuca Plate and the North American Plate colliding together along the coast of British Columbia.  The Juan de Fuca Plate is subducting under the North American Plate.  It is estimated that these plates build up stress for centuries before slipping and producing a massive earthquake.  The most recent mega-earthquake, the Cascadia earthquake occurred on January 26th, 1700.  It is estimated that this megathrust earthquake ran from the centre of Vancouver Island down to northern California and produced a tsunami powerful enough to hit Japan.  Similarly large earthquakes have occurred along this fault in 1310, 810, 400, 170BC and 600BC.

Glacier Window: Whistler & Garibaldi Park Glossary

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZGlacier Window: the cave-like opening at the mouth of a glacier where meltwater runs out.  Glacier windows are often extraordinarily beautiful.  A blue glow often colours the inside and the walls are filled with centuries old glacial till.  You can often see deep into the clear walls and the enormous magnitude of a glacier can be appreciated from up close.  The popular and easily accessible glacier window at the terminus of the Wedge Glacier at Wedgemount Lake is a stunning example of this.

Wedgemount Glacier Window

Green Lake: Whistler & Garibaldi Park Glossary

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZGreen Lake is the marvellously vivid, green coloured lake just north of Whistler Village.  Driving north on the Sea to Sky Highway, Green Lake appears along the highway on your right.  The vivid colour is always impressive and on a sunny day can be spectacular.  One of the best(and easiest) places in Whistler to capture an extraordinary sunrise or sunset photo, is along the Green Lake viewpoint along the edge of the highway.  Compared to the other lakes around Whistler Village, Green Lake is huge.  Over a kilometre long and has an average width of 650 metres.  Because of its large size, Green Lake doesn't warm up much in the summer and is not known as a swimming lake as Lost Lake, Alta Lake, Alpha Lake and Nita Lake are.  With the railway line on one side of the lake and the Sea to Sky Highway on the other, Green Lake has relatively few houses along the shore.

Green Lake Aerial View

Nicklaus North Golf Course sits at the end closest to Whistler Village, along with Whistler's airport.  The airport consists of about three float planes docked at a small wharf.  The beautiful Valley Trail runs along the southern shore of Green Lake, past the airport, then veers right, through the golf course and on to Lost Lake

Hoary Marmot: Whistler & Garibaldi Park Glossary

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZHoary Marmots are the cute, pudgy, twenty plus pound ground squirrels that have evolved to live quite happily in the hostile alpine areas around Whistler.  In the northwest of North America, marmots have a distinct grey in their hair, a hoary colour, so have been named hoary marmots. They manage to survive quite happily in the alpine, largely by hibernating for 8 months of the year and largely for having a surprisingly varied array of food in such an inhospitable environment.  Hoary Marmots live off of grasses, berries, lichens, mosses, and roots and flowers. And live quite well it seems, as they always look well fed, which has one great drawback. They are sought after by bears and wolves. They have a wonderful defence system though. They are constantly on watch and whistle loudly at the first sign of danger, alerting the colony. The prevalence of these "whistlers" as they came to be locally called, in the early days of London Mountain resulted in it's name being changed to Whistler Mountain in the 60's.

Hoary Marmot at Cirque Lake

Hiking on Whistler Mountain, Blackcomb Mountain or Wedgemount Lake in the summer will almost guarantee an encounter with a chubby, jolly little hoary marmot.  Found almost everywhere in the alpine of Whistler, marmots are usually heard before being seen.  The oddly abrupt, whistle sound erupts from fields of boulders when you enter their territory.

Krummholz: Whistler & Garibaldi Park Glossary

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZWhen you hike in the alpine in Whistler and Garibaldi Provincial Park, you will often encounter unbelievably hardy and sometimes mangled looking trees.  Weathering high winds, freezing temperatures, deep snow and usually growing where most other things can't.  These weather battered trees are called krummholz.  Krummholz is a German derived word that comes from two words, krumm and holz.  Krumm means bent, crooked, twisted and holz means wood.  The lodgepole pine is commonly found in the alpine regions around Whistler.  There are many other types of trees that are known to form into bizarre krummholz trees, including spruce, mountain pine, balsam fir, subalpine fir and limber pine.  The krummholz tree pictured here is on a cliff above Cirque Lake in the Callaghan Valley.  A tremendously hostile place to live in the winter months, however, during the summer Cirque Lake is a tranquil paradise.  Most krummholz trees you will see will be found growing out of a rocky landscape with just a thin layer of dirt.  Often they have a short, yet very solid shape, pushing the bedrock apart as they grow.

Krummholz on Garibaldi Lake

Other common krummholz trees form into a flag shape, where high winds have blasted the branches so they form on one side only.  Regardless of the shape of krummholz trees, they always appear to have lived through brutal winters in improbable locations.  This krummholz tree pictured above is growing out of a rocky island, one of the Battleship Islands in Garibaldi Lake, Garibaldi Provincial Park.

Lillooet River

Coming soon..

Mathews' Traverse on Whistler Mountain

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZMathews’ Traverse & Pika’s Traverse are two connected access roads/hiking routes that connect the Roundhouse Lodge to the summit of Whistler Mountain.  Both have almost constantly amazing views of Whistler valley, the Spearhead Range, Black Tusk, Musical Bumps and quite a lot more.  The combined length of both roads between the summit of Whistler and the Roundhouse is 3.2 kilometres or 2 miles.  With an elevation change of 354 metres or 1161 feet, hiking up is pretty arduous, though hiking down is very pleasant.  Many hikers hike it down from the summit in order to see the marvellous ice walls along Mathews’ Traverse.

Whistler Mountain Mathews Traverse Ice Walls

Expect to take a bit less than an hour to hike down from the summit of Whistler to the Roundhouse.  Hiking up takes most people an hour at a fast pace or over an hour at a slower pace.  Because small children cannot ride the Peak Express Chair, hiking up is the only option for many.  There is a sign at the start of the short hike to the Peak Express Chair with a bear standing, indicating you have to be this tall(1 metre) to ride the Peak Chair.  Kids under 4 years old will likely not make the height restriction.  Another reason hikers may need to hike up Mathews’ and Pika’s Traverse is when the Peak Express Chair is not running.  Stormy, windy days, mechanical problems and early summer and late summer are times when the Peak Express Chair is unavailable to access the summit of Whistler.

Moraines in Whistler & Garibaldi Park

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZMoraines are glacially deposited ridges of debris that accumulate at the sides or terminus of a glacier.  Lateral moraines form at the sides of glaciers and terminal moraines at the terminus of a glacier.  Terminal moraines mark the maximum advance of a glacier.  Moraines are made up of glacial debris ranging in size from enormous boulders to fine glacial flour.  Boulders and rocks in moraines are generally rounded due to the churning and grinding within the glacier as it moved.  One of the most striking lateral moraines in Whistler to see is located just down from Russet Lake in Garibaldi Provincial Park.  Russet Lake is located at the base of The Fissile.  Overlord Glacier flows down from The Fissile and Overlord Mountain into the valley that separates Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain and leads to Whistler Village.  Just a short hike from Russet Lake takes you down to the lateral moraine of Overlord Glacier.  You can hike to Russet Lake via the Singing Pass trail which begins next to the bus stop just up the stairs from the Dubh Linn Gate Pub in Whistler Village. 

Lateral Moraine Overlord Glacier

Mount Garibaldi in Garibaldi Park

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZMount Garibaldi is the huge, potentially active volcano that Garibaldi Provincial Park is named after.  Mount Garibaldi also lends its name to the Garibaldi Ranges, the group of mountain ranges that fill Garibaldi Park.  A subsection of the Garibaldi Ranges is the Garibaldi Névé, which is the large icefield that stretches out along the east side of Mount Garibaldi.  Whether you are standing in Squamish or high up on Panorama Ridge, Mount Garibaldi towers in the distance.  From a wonderful vantage point such as Brandywine Meadows high up in the mountains across the valley, Mount Garibaldi appears monstrously huge.  It is easy to imagine it bursting to life as an active volcano, which it technically still is.  Named after a 19th century patriot and soldier, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Mount Garibaldi is a massive 2678 metre giant at the southern end of the park.  It was named after Garibaldi by Captain George Henry Richards of the Royal Navy in 1860.  Guiseppe Garibaldi had gained worldwide acclaim that year by unifying Italy by repatriating Sicily and Naples.

Mount Garibaldi from Brandywine Meadows

In 1907 a group of Vancouver climbers reached the summit of Mount Garibaldi and provided the inspiration to develop Garibaldi Lake as a climbing and hiking base.  In 1920 the Garibaldi Park Reserve was established and in 1927 became Garibaldi Provincial Park.

Mount James Turner in Garibaldi Park

Coming soon..

Mount Price in Garibaldi Park

Coming soon..

Northair Mine in Callaghan Valley

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZNorthair Mine is a surreal little world of colourful murals on abandoned cement foundations, surrounded by an astoundingly tranquil little lake in a secluded forest.  Just a short logging road off of the Callaghan Valley Road takes you to this unusual little abandoned mine.  You would have driven by the turnoff if you have been to Whistler Olympic Park or Alexander Falls, both of which are just a couple kilometres away.  Northair Mine gets its name from the Vancouver based mining company the Northair Group.  The mine was in production from 1976 and extracted 5 tons of gold before being abandoned in 1982. Today it is a bizarre little world in the mountains that has become an incredible place to escape the world and camp out under the stars.  Northair Mine is tricky to find and even when you near it, the turnoff is not obvious.  The access road takes you high into the mountains and is only free of snow in May most years.  In 2016, for example, the snow melted enough for vehicle access during the first week in May.

Northair Mine Driving Directions Map

Driving to Northair Mine is along a bumpy, potholed, old logging road drivable by most vehicles, though at least one deep washout may give even SUV's some difficulty.  Once Northair Mine comes into view it is quite a sight.  The area that surrounds the old ruins is unexpectedly huge.  About 2 kilometres long, edged by a cliff on one side and a beautiful lake on the other.

Overlord Mountain and Overlord Glacier

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZOverlord Mountain is the highest peak in the Fitzsimmons Range.  Overlord is surrounded by several mountains that collectively are named the Overlord Massif.  Massif is a term geologists use to refer to a group of mountains that tends to move as a unit while shifted by movements of the crust.  The Overlord Massif is dominated by Overlord Mountain which is impressively visible from Whistler Village, Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain.  The collection of mountain peaks of the Overlord Massif are Overlord Mountain (2625m/8612ft), Mount Fitzsimmons (2603m/8540ft) and Mount Benvolio (2613m/8573ft). Just south of the Overlord Massif is Cheakamus Mountain (2588m/8491ft), Angelo Peak (2561m/8402ft) and Diavolo Peak (2569m/8428ft).  The Overlord Massif is part of the Fitzsimmons Range, which is a subdivision of the Garibaldi Ranges which is a subdivision of the Pacific Ranges of the Coast Mountains.  Deriving its name from Mount Garibaldi, the Garibaldi Ranges cover the huge stretch of mountains between two enormous river valleys.  The Lillooet River valley on the east side and the Cheakamus River/Green River valley on the west. 

Blackcomb Mountain view of Overlord Glacier and The Fissile

Whistler is located on the west edge of the Garibaldi Ranges, while Pemberton near the north end and Vancouver at the south end.  Another subsection of the Garibaldi Ranges in the vicinity of the Fitzsimmons Range is the Spearhead Range on the Blackcomb Mountain side of the valley.  The overall length you travel one way is 4.4 kilometres or 2.7 miles and that distance is covered in just 11 minutes!  The entire 11 minutes is pretty thrilling right from the start as you creep along in the loading bay then suddenly shoot out at full speed, gaining elevation rapidly.  Owing to the great span of the supporting columns, over 3 kilometres, the journey across dips down into the valley before rising up the other side.  Despite this considerable dip in the middle, you are still chillingly high.  From over 400 metres or nearly 1500 feet above the ground Fitzsimmons Creek and the thousands of treetops looks wonderfully distant.  One side of the cabin faces Whistler Valley descending to Whistler Village and several lakes.  Alta Lake and Lost Lake are visible and the much larger Green Lake in the distance.  Fitzsimmons Creek that flows below runs through Whistler Village and into Green Lake.  Green Lake then empties into Green River, north to Lillooet Lake.

Peak2Peak Gondola in Whistler

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZThe Peak2Peak Gondola connects Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain at a dizzying height of 436 metres(1427 feet).  It runs all winter and in the summer when the mountains are open for sightseeing and hiking.  The Peak2Peak Gondola runs very fast as it carries up to 4100 people per hour at 7.5 metres per second or 16.8 miles per hour!  The overall length you travel one way is 4.4 kilometres or 2.7 miles and that distance is covered in just 11 minutes!  The entire 11 minutes is pretty thrilling right from the start as you creep along in the loading bay then suddenly shoot out at full speed, gaining elevation rapidly.  Owing to the great span of the supporting columns, over 3 kilometres, the journey across dips down into the valley before rising up the other side.  Despite this considerable dip in the middle, you are still chillingly high.  From over 400 metres or nearly 1500 feet above the ground Fitzsimmons Creek and the thousands of treetops looks wonderfully distant.  One side of the cabin faces Whistler Valley descending to Whistler Village and several lakes.

Peak to Peak Gondola Whistler

Alta Lake and Lost Lake are visible and the much larger Green Lake in the distance.  Fitzsimmons Creek that flows below runs through Whistler Village and into Green Lake.  Green Lake then empties into Green River, north to Lillooet Lake.

Peak Express Chair on Whistler Mountain

Coming soon..

Whistler Mountain Peak Express Chair

Price Bay in Garibaldi Park

Coming soon.

Roundhouse Lodge on Whistler Mountain

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZThe Roundhouse Lodge is the centre of activity on Whistler Mountain.  It is where the Whistler Gondola drops off and next to where the Peak 2 Peak Gondola crosses to Blackcomb Mountain.  Restaurants, patios, gift shops and even an Umbrella Bar perched at the edge of the newly expanded patio with incredible mountain views.  If you arrive at the Roundhouse Lodge via the Whistler Gondola, you can enter it without going outside.  On the main level you see the large staircase on your left that takes you up to the restaurants and patios.  Past the stairs you see a gift store and on the left are the washrooms.  Another gift store is on this floor near the main entrance that takes you outside with an immediately striking view of the Peak Express Chair rising up to the summit of Whistler Mountain.  At the summit, the new Cloudraker Skybridge is easily visible spanning the large gap above Whistler Bowl.  From where you are standing, outside the front steps of the Roundhouse Lodge, you can walk to the Peak Express Chair in 5 minutes.  Or start hiking the easy hiking trails that descend off to the left just beyond the Peak 2 Peak Gondola building.

The Roundhouse Lodge

Or you can hike up the fairly exhausting, but beautiful Pika's Traverse and Mathews' Traverse for an hour to the summit of Whistler Mountain.  Another option is to cross over to Blackcomb Mountain via the amazing Peak 2 Peak Gondola.  On Blackcomb Mountain you have similarly good hiking trails, gift stores, restaurants and patios.  When you finish on Blackcomb Mountain, you can return to Whistler Mountain on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola again or ride down on the new Blackcomb Gondola.

Spearhead Range

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZThe Spearhead Range is a subsection of the Garibaldi Ranges that runs in an arc that connects Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain.  The Spearhead Range is effectively the brother of the Fitzsimmons Range which runs east from the summit of Whistler Mountain to Russet Lake.  The Spearhead Range covers the area on the north side or Blackcomb Mountain side of Fitzsimmons Creek.  Fitzsimmons Creek cuts between Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain.  Where the Fitzsimmons Range ends at Fitzsimmons Creek, the Spearhead Range begins and continues along a set of peaks resembling spearheads to Blackcomb Mountain.  These peaks include The Spearhead, Mount Trorey, Tremor, Shatter, Shudder, Quiver, and more.  The Spearhead Range is home to the increasingly popular and extraordinarily beautiful Spearhead Traverse.  This amazing ski traverse traces a very challenging route from Blackcomb Mountain to Whistler Mountain via the Spearhead Range.  It has, in recent years, spawned the Spearhead Huts Project.  An ambitious plan to install mountain huts along the Spearhead Traverse.  It has considerable public support and funding via donations.  The first hut, the Kees and Claire Hut was completed in September of 2019.  Located at Russet Lake with a gorgeous view over Russet Lake to The Fissile.

Tarns in Whistler & Garibaldi Park

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZTarn: a small alpine lake.  The word tarn originates from the Norse word tjorn which translates to English as pond.  In the United Kingdom, tarn is widely used to refer to any small lake or pond.  In British Columbia however, tarn is used specifically for small mountain lakes.  Around Whistler tarns number in the hundreds and many are so small and/or hidden as to remain unnamed.  Russet Lake in Garibaldi Provincial Park could be called a tarn, however its relatively large size dominates the area and the term lake seems more appropriate.  The nearby Adit Lakes are more accurately called tarns as they are small, shallow and sit in an alpine zone, buried in snow most of the year.

Valley Glacier: Whistler & Garibaldi Park Glossary

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZValley Glacier: A glacier that resides and flows in a valley.  Many glaciers around Whistler and in Garibaldi Provincial Park are valley glaciers.  The Wedge Glacier above Wedgemount Lake flows down the valley from Wedge Mountain.  When you reach Panorama Ridge in Garibaldi Provincial Park, valley glaciers dominate the view along with the unnaturally brilliant Garibaldi Lake below.

Waterbar: Whistler & Garibaldi Park Glossary

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZWaterbar: the purpose of a waterbar is to capture and redirect surface water from the road and channel it across the road surface beyond the shoulder of the road.  A waterbar, unlike a cross-ditch, collects only road surface water and not water flowing down a ditch line or creek.  Waterbars often form naturally across forest service roads over time by seasonal flooding.  Man-made waterbars are visibly different than natural ones in that they are deeper, straighter and have a berm on the downhill side.  A berm is an artificial ridge or raised bank running along the downhill side of the waterbar.  A berm uses the excavated material dug out of the ditch to allow the waterbar to channel a higher volume of water, yet be shallow enough to be crossed by vehicles.  Waterbars and cross-ditches are similar, however cross-ditches are generally larger, more visibly man-made, and designed to channel a permanent flow of water.  On active forest service roads waterbars and cross-ditches are designed to allow vehicles to cross them.  On deactivated forest service roads, cross-ditches can be constructed large enough to prevent vehicle access and to allow a more natural looking stream to permanently form.

Western Redcedar: Trees in Whistler

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZWestern redcedar is a very large tree commonly found in the Pacific Northwest. Frequently growing up to 70 metres and with a trunk diameter of 7 metres, they can live well over 1000 years. Specific is tricky to accurately measure on living trees, however, the oldest verified western redcedar was recorded as 1460 years old. The big western redcedars in Whistler's Ancient Cedars forest are thought to be 1000 years old. The awkward name spelling attributed to the western redcedar is to indicate that it is not a true cedar, but rather one of two Thuja species native to North America. Though western redcedar appears to be the most authoritative spelling used, many other variations of the name are frequently used.  Western red cedar, Pacific red cedar, giant arborvitae, western arborvitae are some examples of many of these variant names. Continued here...

Winram, Mills: Early Mountaineer

Garibaldi Park Whistler A to ZMills Winram was a very active mountaineer from Vancouver with some very notable ascents in the 1920's and 1930's.  He, along with Fred Parkes and Stan Henderson made the first ascent of Mount Slesse in August of 1927.  In 1932 Mills Winram, Tom Fyles, Neal Carter and Alec Dalgleish went on an exploratory expedition to the headwaters of Lillooet River, where they made the first known ascent of Mount Meager and several surrounding peaks. The following year, the same group set off to explore the mountains they had seen from Mount Meager to the west, toward the coast. To reach these mountains they took the long boat journey from Vancouver up into Toba Inlet and up Toba River. As Mills Winram recalled in an interview several years later, "The Toba Inlet had been mapped. But the upper half of the Toba River, and the mountains above it, were unknown. So in July of 1933 , four of us set out to explore the headwaters of the Toba River.  Continued here...

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Bergschrund or abbreviated schrund: a crevasse that forms from the separation of moving glacier ice from the stagnant ice above. Characterized by a deep ...
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The Fissile is the stunning Matterhorn-looking mountain that is visible from Village Gate Boulevard in Whistler.  Looking up from Village Gate you will see ...
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Emerald Forest is a cute little forest that is well hidden between Whistler Cay and Alpine.  From Whistler Village, if you go down to the end of Lorimer ...
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Inosculation is the technical name for two or more trees that have fused together into a single bizarre looking tree. They are colloquially known as ...
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Alec Dalgleish (1 August 1907 - 26 June 1934) was a highly respected mountaineer and climber out of Vancouver in the 1920's and 1930's.  His enthusiasm and ...
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Col: a ridge between two higher peaks, a mountain pass or saddle.  More specifically is the lowest point on a mountain ridge between two peaks.  Sometimes ...
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Nunatuk: a rock projection protruding through permanent ice or snow.  Their distinct appearance in an otherwise barren landscape often makes them ...
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Waterbar and Cross-Ditch: the purpose of a waterbar or cross-ditch is to capture and redirect surface water from the road and channel it across the road ...
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Rent Hiking Gear Whistler Garibaldi Park

Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking

Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerAlexander Falls  Moderate Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyAncient Cedars  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerBlack Tusk  Pay Use Hiking Trail WhistlerBlackcomb Mountain  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerBrandywine Falls  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyBrandywine Meadows  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyBrew Lake  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerCallaghan Lake  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerCheakamus Lake  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyCheakamus River  Whistler Hiking Trail HardCirque Lake  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyFlank Trail  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerGaribaldi Lake  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerGaribaldi Park  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerHelm Creek  Moderate Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyJane Lakes  Joffre Lakes Hike in Whistler in SeptemberJoffre Lakes  Moderate Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyKeyhole Hot Springs  Hiking Trail Hard Dog FriendlyLogger’s Lake  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyMadeley Lake  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyMeager Hot Springs Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerNairn Falls  Whistler Hiking Trail HardNewt Lake  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerPanorama Ridge  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerParkhurst Ghost Town  Hiking Trail ModerateRainbow Falls  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerRainbow Lake  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyRing Lake  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerRusset Lake  Whistler Hiking Trail EasySea to Sky Trail  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerSkookumchuck Hot Springs  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerSloquet Hot Springs  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyMount Sproatt  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerTaylor Meadows  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyTrain Wreck  Hiking Trail Hard - Whistler TrailsWedgemount Lake  Pay Use Hiking Trail WhistlerWhistler Mountain

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Rainbow Falls is located just a short hike from the start of the Rainbow Trail to Rainbow Lake.  The trailhead is along Alta Lake Road on the far side of ...
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Holloway Falls is the beautiful waterfalls you see partway along the Joffre Lakes Provincial Park trail.  Located between Middle Joffre Lake and Upper ...
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Mount Meager erupted here 2400 years ago and filled the valley with debris that cemented into rock that blocked Lillooet River.  Eventually water erosion ...
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Shannon Falls towers above Howe Sound at 335 metres as the third tallest falls in BC.  The wonderful, though very short trail winds through a beautiful old ...
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Skookumchuck Hot Springs(aka T'sek Hot Springs and St. Agnes Well), located two hours north of Whistler along the edge of the huge Lillooet River. The name Skookumchuck means "strong water" in the language of the ...
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*Temporarily closed in 2020* Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is a gorgeous park with extraordinarily coloured lakes, waterfalls, stunning mountain peaks and ominous glaciers pouring into the valley.  Joffre ...
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The short, winding, and ever-changing hiking trail to Rainbow Falls is the same as the much more popular trailhead for Rainbow Lake.  The trailhead is marked as the Rainbow Trail, and the trail quickly ...
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Helm Creek is a cute, meandering creek that winds its way from beyond Black Tusk, down the valley to the wonderful campground that takes its name. From the Helm Creek campground, Helm Creek descends further ...
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