Elevation Gain: 966m
Total Time: 6 hours 19 minutes
Date: January 27th, 2023
Gin Peak is a rather small summit located just West of the Whistler ski village. It’s a super popular ski touring destination with a well established up-track and numerous ski lines down. For those reasons, it really caught my attention for the upcoming sunny weather window. Andrea and I have been on the hunt for ski-friendly summits all season and Gin Peak fit the mould perfectly. The trail head starts at the Whistler Olympic Park with an entry fee of $19 for backcountry access. The fee is nominal considering the alternative is parking several kilometers away near Alexander Falls. However, one caveat is that you must be back at your vehicle by 4:30PM, which can make timings tricky.
Andrea and I were confident in how long it’d take us so we opted for a not too early start; arriving at the trailhead for around 9am. We briefly skinned along the cross country track before shooting up into the woods on the official back country access trail. Despite being well into February, there were numerous bare creek crossings lower down. We leap-frogged back and fourth with a few other parties as we made our way up to Hanging Lake, but otherwise it was uneventful.
At around 11am we crested onto the edge of Hanging Lake where a large party had gathered. We skinned past them and trended North East towards Rainbow Pass. Based on our maps it seems the normal route goes all the way up to Rainbow Pass and then heads up the ridge line to Gin. However, there was really no concern on snow stability from our perspective, so we just zig zagged straight up the Western slopes above Hanging Lake.
Once we reached the top of this we were met with the bluffy contours of Gin’s summit block. An easy route presented itself around the south side and so we continued up the ridge further under a warming afternoon sun. We entered into a small cirque/bowl feature at the Southern end of the summit block and then looped back and up the easy summit slopes. A few snow mobilers were motoring around the bowl features but took off shortly after.
At this point I sprinted ahead to the summit to catch some views and Andrea joined up with me shortly after. I was really surprised by how nice the vantage point on the summit was. It’s not often a low summit like this will offer such unobstructed views, but there we were with Rainbow, Callagahan, Castle Towers, Tantalus and more all in sight. It was 12:30PM by now, so we took advantage with a nice long lunch and some minor sun basking.
By 1:30PM we had our fill and transitioned for downhill skiing. We made our way to the top of the bowls and just before dropping Andrea ran into a big issue. Her right ski, refused to stay locked in. Any drastic enough turn resulted in her popping out and tumbling or chaotically regaining control. We did a bit of troubleshooting, but couldn’t pin point the cause. Andrea went down first for the remainder of the descent to Hanging Lake as a precaution. Despite the calamity we had some awesome turns down the lake and the ski did manage to behave for this portion.
Once beyond the lake the ski returned to its devilish mood again. After two more falls below the lake we decided to come up with something more permanent. The remainder of the descent would be in tight trees and luge track conditions, so that was not the place to fall. Andrea did a little debugging and we ruled out some first thoughts. Then upon checking the toe section more closely, discovered that ice had jammed up the spring and it wasn’t fully depressing down. She cleared it out and we were good to go again.
We descended down through the forest with a few fun creek crossing jumps lower down and pulled up to the car just before 3:30PM. As always the descent really makes the extra faff with the skis all worthwhile.