The enormity of the Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort in Canada is appealing but often overwhelming. A strategy is required for skiing the right terrain at the right time. The resort is comprised of two adjacent mountains, which are connected by the Peak to Peak gondola. Its 8,100 acres of terrain receive an annual average of 360 inches of snow, and are divided into 15 percent beginner, 55 percent intermediate, 15 percent advanced and 15 percent expert trails. The resort boasts 12 bowls, three glaciers and more than 200 trails. Lift tickets cost $96 Canadian in 2010. Whistler Blackcomb Resort 4545 Blackcomb Way Whistler BC, Canada V0N 1B4 (866) 218-9690 whistlerblackcomb.com
When to Go
There’s a reason why the Olympic Committee chose February for the 2010 Winter Olympics at Whistler Blackcomb. Snow conditions are best between late January and mid-February. This is not a holiday or spring break season, so the resort will be less crowded. March is extremely crowded with spring break visitors from all parts of the globe. Shakespeare’s warning about the “ides of March” could be applied to Whistler around Saint Patrick’s Day. The resort is exceptionally crowded, and the parties are rowdy.
How to Get There
Whistler was designed as a pedestrian village, so you don’t need a car. Perimeter Bus will pick you up at Vancouver Airport or downtown Vancouver. The trip takes two to three hours, depending on weather conditions. In 2010, round-trip fares ranged from $102 to $128 Canadian, depending on your pick-up and drop-off point. Perimeter Bus 410-319 West Pender Street Vancouver, BC V6B 1T3 Canada (604) 717-6600 perimeterbus.com
Most people have heard of the legendary Pacific Northwest rain. Rainy days at Whistler often cause people to take a day off from skiing, but if it’s raining in the village, it is usually snowing on the upper part of the mountain. Seek higher ground, and you’ll be treated to great conditions. Watch out, however, for late afternoon snow and whiteout conditions. If you are skiing a cat-track during a whiteout, get off the track and into a bowl or a wider trail. This will provide you with a greater margin of error if you lose your balance. Be sure to bring a goggle wipe.
If you’ve never skied Whistler, sign up for the free, 90-minute tour of the mountain. The Whistler orientation tour meets at the guest satisfaction center at the top of the Whistler gondola. The Blackcomb tour meets at the top of the Solar Coaster Express lift.
Beginners can have fun on Whiskey Jack and Ego Bowl on Whistler Mountain. Confident novices can ski Burnt Stew, a long and winding trail that goes around the perimeter of the mountain. This is a perfect trail for groups of mixed abilities, because the novices can stay on Burnt Stew, the more experienced skiers can ski in the bowls and everyone can remain in eye-shot of each other. Intermediates can hone their skills on the wide-open blue trails of Blackcomb Mountain, and advanced skiers will enjoy big mountain bowl skiing on Whistler and Blackcomb, as well as the Blackcomb Glacier.
End of Day Suggestions
It’s tempting to get your bragging rights by skiing from top to bottom. Most people try it at least once, but they usually regret it. Everyone skis down the same route at the end of the day. The snow at the lower part of the mountain has a high water density, making it difficult to ski. Downloading on the gondola is a safer choice.