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2022 SheJumps Alpine Finishing School: Spearhead Traverse

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Squamish Adventure Center

38551 Loggers Ln

Squamish, BC V8B 0H2

Canada

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No Refunds

Event description
An all-women's ski and splitboard mountaineering course led by ACMG Apprentice Ski Guide, Holly Walker.

About this event

The SheJumps Alpine Finishing School presented by Arc'teryx: An all-women's ski and splitboard mountaineering course

This course is an opportunity for advanced backcountry skiers and splitboarders to learn the skills of ski mountaineering in a supportive and encouraging environment.

The SheJumps Alpine Finishing School was first held in 2012 at the Selkirk Lodge outside of Revelstoke, British Columbia. We’ve decided to change things up a bit this year by offering three shorter backcountry snow-camping courses instead of one weeklong lodge-based course! Why? SheJumps is committed to accessibility—including location and price—as well as helping our participants learn and practice hard skills that directly translate to approaching big mountain objectives.

Three Alpine Finishing School courses are being offered in 2022:

While we might have traded lodge-life for tents and snow-camping, we’re excited to offer this dynamic opportunity to "learn while doing." Our curriculum includes terrain management, route finding, glacier travel, crevasse rescue, navigation, and companion rescue, and more.

The Alpine Finishing School is a program of the nonprofit SheJumps, a US public charity (68-0662227) dedicated to increasing the participation of women and girls in outdoor activities. 

SPEARHEAD TRAVERSE

The Spearhead Traverse is a popular way to escape the crowds of Whistler-Blackcomb and experience wilderness in the Coast mountains of British Columbia. This small-group course (6 ppl) includes a day of prep/training for rope skills so that participants can gain as much experience as possible toward their own big-mountain goals. Guided by ACMG Apprentice Ski Guide, Holly Walker, the course is 3 days, 2 nights in the field, and includes incredible skiing. Participants will be able to ask questions and learn from an experienced and highly-skilled guide as they complete this bucket-list adventure!

The Spearhead is a stunning, high-level, U-shaped ski traverse linking Blackcomb and Whistler Mountains via a series of glaciers, summits, and mountain passes. The traverse has been described as a classic Canadian ski mountaineering objective and has often been compared, in quality, to the world-famous Haute Route.

The Spearhead Traverse is geared towards anyone who has logged a variety of days ski touring, has a strong ski ability level, and is now looking to experience the mountains on a unique and challenging overnight trip. The Spearhead Traverse is not only a physical challenge but also a mental challenge as this trip is 3 fully self-supported days in the backcountry. Participants will snow camping and moving camp every day carrying everything they need themselves. The route covers 35 km, 13 wild glaciers, and 11 mountain passes.

TRIP COST

The TOTAL cost of the course is $925 USD. A $500 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your space. 

The price of the course reflects equitable wages for our guides, access to comprehensive online training and curriculum, and a guided educational experience in the mountains. The Alpine Finishing School is a top-notch backcountry experience to learn tips, tricks, and systems for keeping you and your team healthy, happy, and ready to ski amazing lines each day.

Upon submitting your $500 deposit, you will be asked a series of questions pertaining to your skiing/splitboarding abilities and experience in the backcountry. You will also be required to provide a couple of references; these should be people with whom you have spent time in the backcountry. We strive to ensure our course maintains a similar skill level for participants. First-time backcountry skiers should not apply for this course.  You should have at least two prior seasons of backcountry skiing/splitboarding in order to get the most out of this course. But please don't let that scare you - feel free to read the FAQ or contact us if you have questions on skill level.  

You will receive instructions on final payment (less your $500 USD non-refundable deposit) upon acceptance of your application. The tuition covers guiding, course instruction, food during course field days, and group gear.  It does not cover your transportation to and from Whistler, personal camp gear (sleeping bag, mat, tent), avalanche safety equipment, Whistler Blackcomb Backcountry lift ticket ($59 CAD), or food and accommodation in Whistler.  Gratuity is not included in the price, and we encourage our participants to consider 10-15% additional as a tip for the guide.  

If you are paying in CAD, please pay your deposit in USD and then payments can be accepted in CAD. 

We highly recommend also purchasing trip insurance for this event. 

SCHEDULE

Day 1 - March 21 (Dryland Training)

Meet at 9am at Squamish Adventure Centre, and finish at 4pm

The following topics will be covered:

Inside (note: coffee shop with food available)

  • Introductions & intentions (.5h)
  • Weather forecast (.5h)
  • Route plan and navigation skills (2h)
  • Check over backpacks & final packing (1h + lunch break)

Outside at Smoke Bluffs climbing area (3h)

  • Introduce rope systems for glacier travel
  • Anchors and lowers
  • 3 to 1 haul systems

Day 2 - March 22

  • 8:00 am Meet at Whistler base for avalanche transceiver training.
  • 8:30 am Take the lift system up and out of the Blackcomb ski area. Expect to travel 8 hours, with possible ascents and descents of many different peaks such as Decker North Face, Pattison North Face, and Tremor Peak. Around 3 pm, we will set up camp in our desired location.
  • Highlights: Skiing off Decker north face, crossing the Shudder glacier. Distance: 7.9km. Vertical gain: 1100m

Day 3 - March 23

  • Start early, break down camp, eat breakfast, and head off for another full day of ski touring. On this day, we will be travelling quickly around the very furthest back of the Spearhead range.
  • Highlights: Macbeth glacier descent, Ripsaw Ridge, Iago camp! Distance: 5km. Vertical gain: 600m

Day 4 - March 24

  • Start with a fun descent to the Cheakamus Glacier before the biggest climb of the trip. Push up past the iconic Mount Fitzsimmons and Overload peaks in a solid climb. From here, it's smooth sailing with lots of scenic descents and short climbs past Fissile and eventually back to the Whistler resort.
  • Highlights: Touring past Fitzsimmons and Overlord peaks, long glacier descent off Overlord. Distance: 18.5km. Vertical gain: 1200m

About the Guide: ACMG Apprentice Ski Guide, Holly Walker

Although Holly was born in Vancouver B.C. to a family of skiers and mountain lovers, she was swept away from Canada's West Coast at age 10 to lead a vagabond lifestyle all around the world. Now settled in Squamish, Holly is an ACMG Apprentice Ski Guide and shares a new appreciation for the mountains she grew up with. A past Freeride World Tour athlete, she now spends her winters guiding and ski patrolling in Whistler. She fills her summers leading hiking trips in her backyard- the mountains of Southwest B.C. An explorer at heart, when she is not working it can only be guessed which mountain range Holly is wandering in with skis, boots, crampons, ice axe, mountaineering kit, camping gear and more. Holly holds the following certifications:

  • ACMG Apprentice Ski Guide
  • ACMG Hiking Guide
  • Canadian Avalanche Association - Professional Member
  • CAA Operations Level 2
  • Avalanche Search and Rescue
  • Wilderness First Responder

SheJumps Alpine Finishing School Guiding History

The Alpine Finishing School curriculum we teach at these events has been refined by an incredible group of female guides over 9 years. Anne Keller (ACMG/AMGA) led the first two events, supported by North Cascades-based ski guide and experienced outdoor educator, Michelle Smallman. From there, Kate Devine continued to fine-tune many details over the years as she was the AFS lead guide from 2014-2019. We also had amazing input from the one and only Diny Harrison, the first North American woman to become an International Mountain Guide (IFMGA). For several years, we were fortunate to host Shannon Werner, ACMG ski guide, who is a forecaster, avalanche educator, and former professional ski patroller. Christine Feleki (who will be guiding/instructing the Backcountry Basecamp) has been involved with the Alpine Finishing School curriculum since 2014 when she was a practicum (aspiring guide) on our course. Since then, Christine has continued her professional journey—recently becoming the first female ACMG ski guide to pass her exam on a splitboard. New to this roster of guides for 2021 is Holly Walker, an ACMG apprentice ski guide based out of the Whistler/Squamish area. Holly has experience in the freeski world as well as ski mountaineering. As a professional skier who has made a strong commitment to her training and accomplishments in the backcountry world, we’re really excited to include her input and experience as we continue to revolutionize backcountry education events for women, by women.

FAQs 

Is my registration/ticket transferrable?

If there is no waitlist, yes, but the person must have the necessary skill and fitness level to participate in the course. If there is a waitlist, we will go in the order of the waitlist. Thanks!

If I have to cancel for some reason, do I get my deposit back?

No. Your deposit is non-refundable. The closer we get to the course, the harder it will be for us to fill your spot. We recommend looking into options for trip interruption/cancellation insurance.

If SheJumps cancels the course, do I get my deposit back?

Yes, if the trip gets cancelled from our end, you would be refunded in full.

What does the tuition include?

The tuition covers a full day of dryland training, guiding/course instruction, food during course field days, and group gear.  It does not cover your transportation to and from Whistler, personal camp gear (sleeping bag, mat, tent), avalanche safety equipment, Whistler Blackcomb Backcountry lift ticket ($59 CAD), or food and accommodation in Whistler.  Also, gratuity for the guide is not included, please budget accordingly; it's greatly appreciated.  

How strong of a skier/boarder do I need to be to take this course?

Participants should be advanced skiers or splitboarders with previous ski touring experience and powder skiing experience (minimum 20 days). You need to be able to ski or snowboard in a variety of backcountry snow conditions.

How fit do I need to be?

Good fitness is required. You need to be able to ski and climb a MINIMUM of 3,000 vertical feet/1,000 vertical meters with a 30lb backpack. The reason we say minimum is because if this amount of skiing pushes you to your limit, it will be difficult for you to focus on the learning objectives.

Total trip distance is around 35 km (approx 22 miles), so you should feel comfortable ski touring for 5 to 10 miles a day.

How much backcountry skiing experience do I need to have?

Depending on how often you get out, you should have a minimum of 1-2 years.  Try to be an honest judge of your skills and experience level when it comes to basic ski touring (non-mountaineering) objectives.  If you are feeling maxed out most of the time, then you may benefit from another season of touring before you come on the AFS.  

Do I need to have Alpine/Rock climbing or mountaineering experience?

No. If you do, that’s great and you will still get a lot of value out of the course, but it is not a requirement.

Is an avalanche course a pre-requisite?

Taking some kind of recreational avalanche course is not required, but it is highly recommended. We will be talking about terrain management, decision-making, and risk management so it will be to your benefit to have some prior avalanche safety knowledge so that we can build on those skills.

What kind of gear do I need?

Please see comprehensive gear list at HERE. Wherever possible, we recommend renting gear so you can get a sense of what you prefer to use before committing to purchasing. (To be clear: we do NOT recommend renting ski touring boots!)

When do I need to arrive? 

Dryland training starts at 9am on the first day of the course, so if you're flying in, you should plan to arrive to Whistler the day before your course starts. Also, please plan flights for the following day or later in the evening on the day you fly out in case of any inclement weather. 

SheJumps COVID Policies

By registering for this event, you acknowledge and agree to the SheJumps COVID Code of Conduct.

Where can I contact the organizer with any questions?

Please email rgelfand@shejumps.org. Please expect 3-5 days before response.

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SheJumps increases the participation of women and girls in outdoor activities. Partnering with nature, SheJumps creates safe, educational outdoor experiences for girls and women that nurture growth and transformation.

We believe in increasing diversity in the outdoors and providing ALL women and girls with the spark that will lead to a lifetime of outdoor learning and empowerment. We welcome all women and girls (transgender and cisgender) as well as non-binary people who self-identify with the women’s community.

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Date and time

Location

Squamish Adventure Center

38551 Loggers Ln

Squamish, BC V8B 0H2

Canada

View Map

Refund policy

No Refunds

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Organizer SheJumps

Organizer of 2022 SheJumps Alpine Finishing School: Spearhead Traverse

SheJumps is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the participation of women and girls in outdoor activities to foster confidence, leadership, and connection to nature and community through free and low-cost outdoor education.

Our vision is to unearth the potential of all women and girls through outdoor play and connection to nature.

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