Has Climate Change Brought an End to Summer Skiing on Horstman Glacier, Whistler Blackcomb, BC?

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No more T-Bar on Horstman Glacier. Credit: Liftblog

In 2015, Whistler Blackcomb, BC announced that due to melting snow and the retreat of the Horstman Glacier they would take the unprecedented move of snowmaking in summer to preserve the long-held tradition of summer skiing on the glacier. It now looks like they managed to hold off the melting for five years, as photos of the area show the resort dismantling the T-Bar lift. Is this the end of summer skiing in Whistler?

The lift was removed because the glacier has receded to the point where the top section was too steep, and the towers were becoming unsafe.

Horstman Glacier.

The writing has been on the wall since that snowmaking experiment in 2015. In 2017, local man Ken Achenbach, who founded Camp of Champions in 1989 and has organized freestyle coaching sessions for skiers and snowboarders every summer, said that conditions on Whistler’s Horstman glacier made it impossible to build a terrain park to an acceptable standard. As a result, the 2017 camp was canceled and all bookings are being refunded. Camp of Champions subsequently filed for bankruptcy.

“Every year, the final pitch of the Horstman T-Bar shrinks more and more making it harder and harder for Whistler Blackcomb to maintain. The giant pile of snow connecting the glacier to the top of the lift and the glacier itself is melting. This has accelerated over the last four summers. To give you an idea of how much melting has happened the last few years, in 2015 alone the glacier lost 35 vertical feet of ice.

It’s not Whistler Blackcomb’s fault. They excel at ensuring their customers and COC receive an exceptional experience and they have always delivered. Simply put, it’s the effects of global warming. I wanted to give you an exceptional experience, and now I can’t. I haven’t slept in a week. After 28 years my dream is over. Honestly, I want to crawl under a rock. I feel like I have died. Camp is my life.”

Ken Achenbach

Level 1 posted the following on their Instagram page yesterday:

💔 Sad day for skiing.

The Horstman T-bar has apparently been removed, falling victim to the receding glacier. First installed by @whistlerblackcomb in 1987, over the course of its 33-year lifespan it provided access for numerous summer camps, public park laps, and good times, harkening back to the glory days of slush bumps, hand-dug quarter pipes and some of the first tables and rails that helped to jumpstart a revolution. In the early 2000s the Horstman glacier was the epicenter of skiing’s rebirth, and to say it played a pivotal role in our sport is an understatement, as the likes of @auclairjp @jfcusson1 @mikedski @julienregnier @candidethovex @tannerhall420 and more cut their teeth on a host of never-been-done tricks, inspiring both their contemporaries and generations to come.

The glacier played a role in nearly every major film from this era, as crews from @poorboyzproductions @mspfilms and @tetongravity made the annual migration during the months of June and July. @level1 was there, following in the footsteps of those paving the way at the time, and the glacier contributed a good percentage of the content that made up our first few films.

RIP. #climatechangeisreal

The Horstman Glacier is a glacier located on Blackcomb Peak in Garibaldi Provincial Park. During the ski season at Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort, it is used for skiing and riding on. During the summer ski season on Blackcomb Peak, it is one of two glaciers in North America used for summer skiing and riding.

Park on Horstman Glacier. Credit:: Camp of Champions

Many ski camps used to descend on the glacier during the summer for training, and crews did a fabulous job of building parks and features.

whistler, canada, British Columbia
Whistler, BC

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