Why is that ski-run called ‘Hooker’?

A Whistler Mountain trail map from the simpler days

It is with some trepidation that I write this post, as place names are notorious for having multiple people claiming that they named them.  Speaking to the archivist at the BC Geographic Names Index she tells me with a laugh how she’s lost count of the number of times that people have claimed that their ancestor named this or that mountain, only to discover that the mountain was named before their ancestor was born!

I’m sure Whistler Blackcomb’s ski runs will be no exception to this rule, so if you disagree to any of the descriptions to follow, feel free to correct us by commenting below – we are always looking for new information at the Whistler Museum.

So here goes, I roll up my sleeves and give you a brief guide to Whistler Blackcomb’s ski run names. Of course, there are many, many more runs than I can include in one blog post, but here are a selection that caught my attention:

Whistler

Jimmy’s Joker

Not named after Jim McConkey, as I had assumed.  Apparently one of the surveyors, named Jimmy, got lost in the fog and marked out a trail that turned out to be very different than he had expected.

McConkey’s

Is named after Jim McConkey! ‘Diamond Jim’ took over management of Whistler Mountain Ski School in 1968.

Pig Alley

A short cut from Whiskey Jack to Ego Bowl.  Named after ski patrol’s first skidoo, -a pig of a machine that always got stuck. The patrol had the trail cut because it was easier to cross over to Ego Bowl and climb that with the skidoo than to climb Whiskey Jack.

‘Diamond’ Jim McConkey, the eponymous hero of McConkey’s but NOT Jimmy’s Joker

Blackcomb

Once slated for logging, many Blackcomb runs have logging themes to them:

Jersey Cream: Extra good timber; cream of the crop

Stoker: A person employed to fuel the steam engines used to pull the logs.

Hooker: A foreman of a logging “side”.  The yarding crew had 8-10 men. (So, in answer to the title question, ‘Hooker’ is in fact a logging term, not a ‘lady of the night’.)

Cruiser: A logger who surveys standing timber for volume.

Catskinner: A tractor driver.

The Bite: an area in the curve or slack of a cable.  When the cable pulls a log, the slack snaps out causing this area to be very dangerous.

Couger Milk: A term referring to the grease used on logging equipment.

Crosscut: Means to cut across like “crosscut saw”.

Skid Row: A rod on which logs were dragged by bulls.  Later horses, then logging skidders.

Springboard: A board that a hand fallers stood on above the broad base when falling a large tree.

Choker: A short length of wire rope used to wrap around the log to be yarded to the landing.

Gearjammer: A nickname given to a heavy equipment operator.

7th Heaven

Blackcomb president Hugh Smythe named the area after he figured out that the lift servicing it was Blackcomb’s 7th lift.

Ladies First

I got this little gem from the Guide to Whistler Blackcomb. Ladies First on Blackcomb Glacier was named after Whistler Patroller Cathy Jewett who was first to (sort of) ski the line in 1984. Jewett dropped in and instantly set off an avalanche that she rode down the slope until she managed to self-arrest. So, although she was theoretically “first”, she didn’t really ski it that day!

Bushrat

A technical chute off of Chainsaw Ridge, Bushrat was named after Museum President John Hetherington who was working on Ski patrol at the time. Ken Newington, Blackcomb’s first Ski Patrol director named this run after John soon after the area opened.

That’s all for now, but if you liked this post, let us know and we’ll do some more!

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12 responses to “Why is that ski-run called ‘Hooker’?

  1. Excellent. How about Schoolmarm and Barber Chair (now Buzz Cut)? Also the story of how Blackcomb was named.

    Regards,

    Alan

  2. Well, I can definitely tell you the story of Blackcomb, right now. For years we at the Museum, thought that Blackcomb was named by Alex Philip of Rainbow Lodge, but we have recently changed our minds. An account by BC mountaineer Don Munday, who is credited with the first ascent in 1923 reads “Then we climbed up and built a small cairn as there was no sign of previous climbers. We suggested the descriptive name of Mt. Blackcomb [descriptive of the serrated edge of black rock at the summit]. The elevation was apparently about 8,000 feet. The time was 2pm.”

    Don was a well respected mountaineer and well known for attributing names to their proper source, and not falsely claiming the glory for himself, so at the Museum we are 99% convinced that Blackcomb was named by Don Munday.

    Schoolmarm and Buzz Cut are more challenging, however. I will have to investigate further….

  3. Great post. Cougar’s Milk can also refer to a high-calorie drink that was common among bush workers and mountaineers in the early twentieth century, based on condensed milk, and sometimes including rum. I always assumed the run name referred to that, but now I know otherwise.
    In fact, I first learned about this other type of “cougar’s milk” when reading an old Don Munday climbing story as well!

    A lot of the run names come from old patrollers, so they would be a great resource to get more of the stories behind the names.

  4. What about Tokum? Is is what I think it stands for?

    • Hi Patrick, Sorry it took so long to get back to you on this one – I was doing some sleuthing. The short answer is “Yes, it is”. The long answer is that Tokum is actually named after a ski-bum cabin called “Tokum Corners”. One of Tokum’s residents was working on the mountain and “Tokum” was his route home.

  5. I thought I read that he named the 7th Heaven chair after the 7th Heaven chair at Stevens Pass WA which was installed in 1960?

    • Maybe? We’re not sure about that, and will check up on it. We’ve had our story confirmed by a few individuals, but it doesn’t mean that he was also inspired by the other lift. Thanks for the comment!

  6. Pingback: Who Burnt the Stew? Ski Run Names, Part 2 | Whistorical

  7. Curious about Kybers or as I was told by a long term local that it is actually supposed to be called Kybes. Is it named after somebody or after the mountain pass trek that connects Afganistan and Pakistan.

    • Hey Silas,

      I’m looking into it. I’ve heard it referred to as “Khyber’s Pass” which, of course, is a reference to the central Asian mountain pass, but there might be more to the story as well. Maybe it’s time to do some research and put another ski-run names blog post together. I’ll let you know what we find out.

      -Jeff

    • Hey Silas,

      So I got the following answer from long-time local Binty Massey regarding the name of Khyber Pass (Not Khybers, or Kybes):

      “We used to hike the peak years before a chair went up the peak. We would go up the t-bar and hike up Little Whistler then hike all the way around the back of the peak to access this killer zone of steep chutes that are a prefect load zone for powder during big storms. We figured it was so far away to get to that the Kyhber Pass was an apt name, after the afganistan pass. The logging slash down below had not been logged yet so it was premo tree skiing all the way to Bunburys road then out to creekside. This route was pioneered by my father Geoff Massey and John Frazee back in the 60s .”

      There you have it!

      -Jeff

  8. Pingback: What’s in a Name? | Whistorical

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