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Recommended This Week

Bivouac or Bivy - Sea to Sky Hiking Terms

Bivouac or Bivy                                                     Sea to Sky Hiking Terms

Bivouac or Bivy: a primitive campsite or simple, flat area where camping is possible.  Often used to refer to a very primitive campsite comprised of natural materials found on site such as leaves and branches.  Often used interchangeably with the word camp, however, bivouac implies a shorter, quicker and much more basic camp setup.  For example, at the Taylor Meadows campground in Garibaldi Park, camping is the appropriately used term to describe sleeping there at night.  If instead you plan to sleep on the summit of Black Tusk, bivouacking would be more accurately used.  In the warm summer months around Whistler you will find people bivouacking under the stars with just a sleeping bag.  The wonderful, wooden tent platforms at Wedgemount Lake in Garibaldi Provincial Park are ideal for this.

Bivouac Along the West Coast Trail

The image above is along the hostile West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island.  The bivouac below is along the serene and tranquil Russet Lake in the summer.

Bivouac at Russet Lake

Russet Lake is a fantastic alpine lake that lays at the base of the Fissile.  The Fissile is the strikingly bronze coloured mountain so visible from Whistler Village.  From the Village look into the distance at the Peak to Peak hanging between Whistler and Blackcomb and you will see the Fissile.  Its pyramid shape in the distance perfectly separates the two mountains.

Aerial Video of the Fissile

There are several ways to get to hike Russet Lake.  The Singing Pass Trail from the base of Whistler Mountain near the Whistler Gondola.  The Musical Bumps Trail that begins near the top of the Whistler Gondola.  The High Note Trail that begins at the top of the Peak Chair on Whistler Mountain.  There is an increasingly popular route that begins from Blackcomb Mountain.  And finally, a very infrequently hiked route from Cheakamus Lake that runs along Singing Creek.

Blackcomb in Garibaldi Provincial Park

Blackcomb Mountain has come alive with beautiful hiking trails in recent years.  With the 2008 addition of the Peak to Peak Gondola which connects Blackcomb to Whistler, the demand for mountain trails is higher than ever.  A dozen years ago, you would just have had some rough hiking trails to follow, and not many hikers to follow them.  Now you have mapboards, trail signs, viewpoint seating areas and six popular, named trails to hike.

Bivouac on the Flank Trail

The image above is bivouacking along the Flank Trail in Whistler.  The image below is and aerial video of Bivouac Island in Callaghan Lake, Whistler.

Bivouac - Callaghan Lake Provincial Park

Glossary of Hiking Terms                                    Squamish Hiking Trails

Ablation Zone: the annual loss of snow and ice from a glacier as a result of melting, evaporation, iceberg calving, and sublimation Ablation Zone - Squamish Hiking Termswhich exceeds the accumulation of snow and ice. Located below the firn lineFirn 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.  An excellent place to see an ablation zone is Wedgemount Lake in Garibaldi Provincial Park in Whistler.  The Wedgemount Glacier has been receding for decades.  In the 1970's the glacier terminated with a steep and vertical wall of ice at the shores of Wedgemount Lake.  Today the glacier terminates a couple hundred metres above Wedgemount Lake.

Overlord Glacier Ablation Zone

Accumulation 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.  Accumulation Zone - Squamish Hiking TermsSeparated by the glacier equilibrium line, these two zones comprise the areas of net annual gain and net annual loss of snow/ice.  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 hikers on their way to Wedge Mountain and Mount Weart.

Alpine Zone or Alpine Tundra: the area above the treeline, often characterized by stunted, sparse forests of krummholz and Alpine Zone - Squamish Hiking Termspristine, turquoise lakes.  The Sproatt alpine 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 are Wedgemount Lake, Blackcomb Mountain, Whistler Mountain, Black Tusk and Callaghan Lake.

Alpine Zone Aerial Video - Squamish Hiking

Arête: 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.  Below Russet Lake in Whistler, the glacier at the bottom of the valley, below the lake has a wonderful example of an arête.  The far side of Mount Price, near Garibaldi Lake also has an enormous arête.  The Wedge-Weart Col beyond Wedgemount Lake is a prominent arête to the summit of Wedge Mountain.

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Blackcomb Mountain Hiking TrailsVictoria Hiking - West Coast TrailLions Gate Bridge