If your bindings have hinges and you view the top of the chairlift as the start of your climb, then you’ve probably been to the backcountry a few times.
This weekend marks the return of the Diamir World Backcountry Freeride Jam, and a celebration of everything it means to go beyond the boundary rope. There’s a photo expo, industry parties, a demo village, telemark clinics, backcountry safety clinics, randonnee tours by the Whistler Alpine Guides Bureau, kite clinics, and two events aimed at the touring crowd.
On Saturday, April 19 the competitions are The North Face Whistler Dash Inbounds Race and The North Face Spearhead Passage Out-Of-Bounds Race.
The Whistler Dash is a recreational race taking place on a 10 km course in Whistler’s alpine that will take participants anywhere from one to three hours to complete, depending on their level of experience. This is a good way to get into Randonee racing, which includes elements of touring and downhill skiing.
For the more experienced skiers — and some of the top racers in the world from Spain took past last year — there’s the Spearhead Passage Race. This is a 26 km race that starts on Whistler Mountain and follows an out-and back course along the Spearhead Traverse. Participants will climb more than 2,200 metres from start to finish.
While that’s a lot of climbing, it’s not quite as brutal as the Whistler Windup, a race taking place on Sunday that takes skiers 1,200 metres from the base of Whistler Mountain to the finish at the Roundhouse Lodge. There are no flats, just different degrees of steepness.
More information for the World Backcountry Freeride Jam and registration for all three events is online at www.wbfj.ca.