Classic Sidecountry Lines: DOA, Whistler Blackcomb
by Mike Douglas | Photo of Ryan Oakden shot by Paul Morrison
You can’t miss it. A giant cleft in the rock on the southwest side of Blackcomb Peak marks the line called DOA. It starts as a 40-plus-degree slot couloir, barely two ski lengths wide, then gradually opens up into a series of rolling shelves before depositing you on to 7th Heaven’s buffed groomers, 1,600 vertical feet below.
Generations of Whistler’s top shredders have earned their stripes on DOA. Early pioneers like Trevor Peterson and Eric Pehota were among the first. After Petersen died in a Chamonix avalanche in 1996, his ice axe was bolted to the rock near the top of the line. The memorial marks Peterson’s favorite place at Whistler Blackcomb. Skiing it was part of the healing process for his son, Kye, who made his first descent before he was a teenager. Pehota’s sons, Logan and Dalton, along with Sean and Callum Pettit, are regulars to ski the line.
From the top of the Showcase t-bar, follow the crowds up the short bootpack to Blackcomb Glacier, then follow the highest traverse to the right. Down near the rocks, you’ll pass through a ski area boundary gate where you can check your avalanche beacon. From there, it’s a 20 to 30 minute skin up the south flank of the Blackcomb Glacier. Follow the skin track to the right. When you reach the col, take your skins off, then stay high and continue traversing around to the west. About 100 meters past the col, you’ll find DOA.
DOA is a serious line. Never head out if the avalanche danger is higher than “considerable.” Always give the snow a day to settle after the last storm, and when in doubt, go with some locals.
Hike: 3 Ski: 7
– Introduction to Classic Sidecountry Lines, plus Cody Peak, Jackson Hole
– Classic Sidecountry Line — Munchkins, Alpine Meadows
– Classic Sidecountry Line — Hell Brook, Stowe
– Classic Sidecountry Line — Shuksan Arm, Mt. Baker