Whistler Blackcomb (WB) has earned the distinction of “Best Overall Resort” in FREESKIER’s annual Resort Guide nine years running. [Please pause to let that sink in.]
Not quite 80 miles to the north of beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia, lies what FREESKIER deems to be the gold standard of North American ski resorts. This shred Mecca’s appeal is in its sheer size and its world-class terrain, yes, but also in its versatility—there’s something for everyone at Whis’, and visitors can do it up big, or on a budget.
Skiing at Whistler Blackcomb
With regard to size and terrain, skiers enjoy a combined 8,171 acres of terrain across WB, including 5,280 feet of vertical, 200+ trails, five terrain parks, 16 alpine bowls and three glaciers. Add 458 inches of average annual snowfall to the mix and therein lies the winning combination.
We can’t possibly understate the raw size of this place. And no matter where you roam on the ski hill, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a trail that doesn’t leave you with a shit-eating grin on your face.
Our own staffers would tell you to start out your day skiing the terrain accessed by Whistler’s Peak Express chair. Standing atop Whistler Mountain is a darn special experience (the views are insane), and so too is shredding down from its summit, via the likes of Glacier Bowl, West Bowl or The Cirque. On a deep day, while standing in line to load the Peak chair, you’ll invariably find yourself among a raucous bunch, shouting at the top of your lungs in applause of other skiers’ performances on the surrounding faces—the bigger the air, the louder the roar. Outstanding yard sales will also garner similar ovation. The powerful energy that permeates the Peak chair line-up is mirrored in happenings elsewhere around the resort, particularly in the famed Whistler Village, situated at the base of the ski hill. But, more on that later…
When you’ve had your fill of Whistler Mountain, you’ll want to take advantage of the engineering marvel that is the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola, which connects Whistler with Blackcomb. Be sure to snap a selfie for the ‘gram when you’re suspended 1,430 feet above the ground. When you touch down on Blackcomb, make your way to the Glacier Express chair—then, shred your face off in the high alpine (Spanky’s Ladder is a must). Later, descend to the CBC & Excelerator glades, where tree-skiing bliss awaits.
Also located on Blackcomb is The Nintendo Highest Level Terrain Park, home to the World Ski and Snowboard Festival / AFP World Championships; the park features massive, pristinely sculpted features and a smooth flow, praised by the world’s top freeskiers. Beginners will find themselves at home in the Big Easy or Habitat parks, too.
The diversity of terrain ensures you’ll enjoy kick-ass adventures each day on the hill. Blast through open pow fields, dip and dodge through epic glades, point ‘er down top-notch pillow lines or hit the parks—the baddest of shredders will find plenty of hair-raising offerings, while entry-level skiers can take advantage of top-notch, fun-filled lessons and guided tours.
In summation, you’re blowing it if you haven’t experienced skiing at Whistler Blackcomb.
More, more, more
Avid adventures take note: fun hardly stops at the ski area boundary. Consider Whistler Heli Skiing, and its exclusive rights to 430,000+ acres of terrain, including more than 150 glaciers and upwards of 500 designated runs.
Or, hit up Canadian Wilderness Adventures for guided snowmobile tours. If you thought catching face shots on your skis was fun, wait until you experience the same feeling while throttling a 400-pound machine. It will change your life.
Canadian Wilderness Adventures also offers a Snowshoe package (imagine: you’re walking silently among absolutely massive fir and hemlock trees, basking in the serenity of the BC wilderness) as well as dogsled tours—a family favorite. Rest assured, all of your cares in the world will fade as you’re ripping through old growth forest under the power of a rambunctious team of dogs. Your musher will also provide lessons in harnessing and staging the dogs, plus you’ll learn the standard commands and get the low-down on handling a sled.
Other offerings that might tickle your fancy include guided tours centering on geology and ecology, alpine photography and sustainability. And really, we’re only scratching the surface here.
Then, of course, there’s plenty to do for those who simply want to eat and/or drink ‘til they’re blue when the ski day is done.
“Meet me at the Longhorn.”
Whistler Village is home to a bounty of rockin’ party patios for all of your après needs. Enjoy a jug (read: pitcher) or a Caesar (the Canadian version of the Bloody Mary) at the likes of the Longhorn Saloon, Garibaldi Lift Co. (GLC), Merlin’s, Dusty’s, El Furniture Warehouse, etc. We’re not exaggerating when we say there’ll be a rager happening around every damn corner. So, when your legs can’t hang on the slopes anymore, kick your feet up, go HAM on a plate of Nachos, soak up the sun, savor the taste of that ice cold Kokanee and do your best to woo the gorgeous babe at the adjacent table—heck, you’ve earned it.
Later, break for dinner. FREESKIER favorites include Sushi Village (be sure to order a personal pitcher of sake margarita), Earls (the servers are all 10s), Mongolie Grill (epic stir-fry) and the upscale Bearfoot Bistro (pay a visit to the Belvedere Room and sample vodka at sub-zero temps, and inquire about sabre-ing bottles of champagne in the cellar, where you’ll be surrounded by 20,000 bottles of the world’s best vintages). Or, you can always just go to Splitz for a delicious burger. The options are seemingly limitless.
Keep the ball rolling at one of a slew of nightclubs: Longhorn (again), Maxx Fish, Tommy Africa’s, Buffalo Bill’s, Garfinkel’s a.k.a. Garf’s, Moe Joe’s or Savage Beagle. Here, locals and visitors become fast friends—odds are actually quite good that you’ll run into Sean Pettit somewhere along the way. Play your cards right and you may very well end up at his house for the after party.
In the past six years, on average, Whistler has received more than 100 inches of snow in the month of March alone. Keep this in mind as you’re looking to book spring travel. Should a March outing elude you, though, do not fret—April brings with it one of FREESKIER’s absolute favorite spring bashes: The World Ski & Snowboard Festival (WSSF).
The event goes down this year between April 10-19; it’s one giant, amazing, rockin’ fusion of sport, art, music and partying. On the docket: The 2015 Association of Freeskiing Professionals World Championships (including mind-boggling big air and slopestyle showdowns), free concerts galore in the Village, the highly acclaimed Olympus Pro Photographer Showdown, the 72-Hour Filmmaker Showdown and the Intersection Film Fest, a roller derby, silent disco, and so much more. Pure sensory overload. Note: tickets are required for some of the latter items, and should be purchased online sooner than later. Be there, or be a giant square, folks.
Our editors will be on-site amid WSSF. Look for us at the Longhorn—first Caesar’s on us.