Weart South Face: A Classic Coastal Link-Up
Mar 12

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Update: This is a good reminder why I write these stories down, otherwise I forget. Ptor Spricenieks and I were skiing around the Weart zone last year and he mentioned a solo descent he did way back in the 90′s. Anyways, I totally forgot about it. I sent Ptor an email at the beginning of the week, but he was in the middle of nowhere in Asia. But just got an email back. He soloed from Blackcomb, climbed the same route we did, skied the South Face line, then hiked out the trail. He met Jeff Holden who was coming up the trail (who was about to do his solo on the Armchair), and they smoked one. Classic!! 

While climbing the North Arete on Wedge, two days prior, I snapped some photos of the boys behind me. At home, I saw the South Face of Weart and zoomed in.  There was a very exposed and intriguing line hidden on the face.  Something you’d only see if you were on Wedge and had a telephoto or some quality binoculars. The day temps were finally rising and the South faces were corning up nicely, so I recruited Julian Stoddart for an early morning Saturday mission. My legs were still sore from the Currie-Blackcomb, so it would be good to have a fresh ski partner to chase up the steep Wedgemount trail.

We stayed at my family’s cabin in Whistler and woke at 3:15am. We were hiking by 4:30am. A couple hours later we were skinning past the lake and the toe of Wedge glacier. Some stiff skinning with crampons had us up in the bowl at the bottom of the line. The sun was out in full force, so we decided to climb Weart’s East Ridge instead of the line. We made a mental note of the line, so we wouldn’t get lost in the many gullies on the face.  We skinned most of the ridge, and only switched to crampons near the summit. After spending my entire life looking at Weart, I finally made it to its perfect pyramid summit! The air was warm and calm, but the winter sun wasn’t nuking the snowpack, so we took our time and ate lunch. Although we were about to drop in on a very exposed line, the mood was light hearted and certainly a benefit of not being solo.

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Julian on the summit of Weart

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Nice summit views with the always steep JT on the right

After poking around the ridge a bit, and guessing that the snow would have softened on our route down the West ridge, we clicked into our skis. The skiing wasn’t very steep, but the ridge dropped steeply on both sides.  Finally reaching the face above our line, we made wonderfully exposed turns towards the entrance rib.  The rib was about 10feet wide and flat on top, and dropped off on both sides. Such a unique feature! When the rib ended, we dropped an uber steep half-pipe sidewall, into our main couloir. From there the turns were super soft. At the bottom we negotiated a small cliff, and then arced big turns down the bowl.

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Me on the Summit ridge

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Looking down the line

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Julian styling the steep half-pipe entrance to the main couloir

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Looking down the couloir

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Me making a turn in the lower part of the line

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Nice exposure

We’d spotted some nice lines on the sub peak beside Weart, so we skinned towards its East Ridge. We had a short and steep section of climbing to gain the ridge proper. Unfortunately the snow was bottomless sugar and interspersed with rock outcrops that were very loose. I had two snow axes which aided in my swimming upwards, but Julian only had one, and had an interesting time of it. After a quick skin up the ridge, we reached the second summit of the day.  We had no specific descent route, but eventually found a tasty gulley with a steep entrance.  After some tight turns, the gully opened and we simul-skied fast turns the rest of the way. All in all, about a 2500foot run of some of the best corn skiing I’ve done. We got to the car about 12hrs after starting. Hard to communicate how great this day felt. It’s been such a shitty season, that a successful day like this is even sweeter.

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Julian enjoying sketchy micro-terrain

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Second summit, looking over to Weart

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Above Wedge lake. Hikers in top right

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One of my best corn runs ever! You can see the single skin track heading up the glacier (top right)

After spending my life in and around Whistler, it was amazing to be able to possibly author such a classic link-up in such a well-traveled zone.  The best link-ups are ones where you don’t retrace your steps, and this was a perfect alpine loop. This should definitely be on the spring ski list of any expert who doesn’t mind some exposure.

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