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:
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.
Is named after Jim McConkey! ‘Diamond Jim’ took over management of Whistler Mountain Ski School in 1968.
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.
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.
Blackcomb president Hugh Smythe named the area after he figured out that the lift servicing it was Blackcomb’s 7th lift.
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!
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!