Standing at the top of either Whistler or Blackcomb it is impossible not to notice the Black Tusk. It is probably one of the most recognizable landmarks in the Garibaldi National park. What I didn’t realize when I first came to Whistler is that you can climb it. It took me four and a half years to make the trek.
View of the Black Tusk from the top of the Peak Chair, Whistler Mountain.
It can be done in one day, one epic day. It can also be done an overnight trip, which is what we did. The most popular route is the Black Tusk/Garibaldi Lake trek which starts about a 20-25 minute drive south of Whistler. We chose a different, slightly less traveled route. The Cheakamus Lake trail head is where we began; about 20 minutes in we turned right, crossed the river and then begin our climb up to the Helm Creek campsite. It took us around four hours to hike in.
Campsite at dawn
The Bivy sack that I slept in.
The campsite at Helm Creek is great. Very basic; a few wooden tent sites, a running stream and a bear cache. And an incredible view of the Black Tusk.
Black Tusk at dawn from Helm Creek campsite
The hike to the ‘Tusk’ from camp is fairly simple. A well beaten path that is easy to follow. The day was just starting as we began and some of the views along the way were incredible. I could easily spend a couple of days and nights up there, ascending some of the other peaks around that area.
Trek to the Tusk
Still trekking to the Tusk
Mellow river crossing
As we climbed higher, some awe-inspiring vistas appeared. We had incredible views of Garibaldi lake, the backside of Whistler mountain and the ‘Tusk’ began to loom larger as we headed for the final ascent.
Whistler from a very different angle
Inukshuk on the top of the Black Tusk
Once at the base of the ‘Tusk’ all that is left is the chimney up to the peak. This bit can be quite hair-raising if heights aren’t your thing. It is fairly simple, however the rocks feel loose so that gets the heart pumping.
Chimney up to or down from the peak
It is well worth the adrenaline because once we were at the top the 360 degree panoramic views were absolutely phenomenal. We were fortunate to pick a beautiful day and we could see for miles.
Black Tusk peak
No matter where we stood, there was a great view to capture
- Looking back at what has been conquered
The hike out was straightforward. We cut back to camp, packed up and headed out. It was a fairly big day, I think about 9 hours of hiking, but we weren’t rushing at all.
This hike is definitely one of the more well trodden paths around the Whistler area and there is a large chance you will pass many people along the way. It is all well worth it once you reach the top.