Some of my most memorable experiences on snow have been touring the many ski resorts Canada has to offer. Last count I believe there were just over 225 ski resorts from coast to coast. Canada has such much variety and options to choose from, time to start planning out where and when.
My all time favourite mountain is Whistler/Blackcoomb. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with this mountain for over 25+ years. I’ve seen it grow into a world class resort over the years with all the amenities and ‘bells and whistles’ that only a world class facility can offer up. The only variable can be the weather, being so close to sea level. I’ve had days when I was soaked to the bone and couldn’t see a foot in front of me – then those magical days on top of what is appropriate named 7th Heaven – thinking I couldn’t be more in synch with nature and what heaven must be like for a skier.
Whistler receives an average annual snowfall of 914 cm and the minimum average daily temp is -5 most of the winter months. No eastern skiing here with these balmy temperatures. There is no lack of stuff to do when you need a day to rest those ski legs. A visit to all the Olympic venues is well worth the day off piste touring. One of my favourite venues is the Lost Lake path. You can walk the trail or rent a pair of cross country skiis and tour either morning or night under the lights and stars.
When you legs are screaming for some rest and relaxation, head to the Scandinave spa. Why not turn this ‘treat’ into a real ‘need’ when you’re away – 20,000 square foot of outdoor spa, engulfed in a peaceful spruce and cedar forest on the edge of Lost Lake. Soak in the calming hot water whilst drinking in the incredible mountain vistas. Need I say more?
One of my biggest treats was to do a helicopter drop up on Rainbow Mountain. You truly have never experienced life until you’ve been catapulted up a mountain – with all the power and incredible speed a helicopter offers to then touchdown peacefully and be left on top of Rainbow Mountain. A truly inspiring vista of mountain tops and glaciers. True bliss and a spectacular ski out down to the valley. Grab a group of keen skiers or boarders and find the right guide. You won’t regret this trip of a life time.
Another incredible experience was my zip line tour through the old growth forest. I’ve done this in both winter and summer – and it truly offers you up an incredible experience no matter the time of year. If you’ve ever wondered what it feels like to be a ‘bird’ soaring above the old growth forest, this adventure is something you can’t pass up. Whistler has done a great job of combining the thrill of flying to weaving in the educational piece of teaching the public about Whistlers ecology and wildlife.
Back up to the mountains and the real reason we planned this trip to Whistler. With 8100 acres of terrain and its mile-long vertical you have got incredible opportunities to ski 2 very distinct ski areas – all combined with the option to buy a pass for the day or week and ski or board both sides. Totally doable and I highly encourage it. Since the weather is different on both mountains – you can watch the clouds ascend or descend up and down both areas and plot your ideal day to get max visibility. The areas are linked by 2 modes of transport. The awe inspiring Peak to Peak Gondola is nothing like you’ve ever experienced. I’ve taken many gondola rides while in Europe – but Peak to Peak is a one of a kind experience. This is the longest and highest lift in the world and soars above the old growth forest and valley taking you to either peaks of Whistler or Blackcomb. It takes less than 15 minutes to go to either side. The other option is to ski down to the village and hit the gondola village on Whistler side or Chairlift up to Blackcomb.
Blackcomb is a mountain of many incredible descents, built along the fall line. If you truly want to get your adrenaline flowing, you can truly link a run top to bottom with incredible fall lines. The upper half of Blackcomb Mountain, in particular, is a popular expert skier’s hangout. The area features glacial skiing, bowl skiing, chutes, cliffs and challenging, exposed lines, as well as steep and deep powder fields.
Whistler Mountain’s Whistler Bowl, Shale Slope and West Cirque offers some short hike-to’s with incredibly long powder-filled descents. A gentler slope, but not to be fooled, some incredible decents especially when you hit the Peak to Creek run which is no less than 11 km of thigh burning craziness. My goal each year is to mid-way through the week do it top to bottom without stopping. If I ever caught myself on camera, I am sure it wouldn’t look as pretty or technical as I’d like, but it sure feels like a major accomplishment each year when I strap on my skiis and do this annual adventure.
Enjoy everything the Canadian Alpine has to offer. Before attempting any 11 km thigh burning craziness, head to our facility at Alpine Indoor and do some ‘big mountain’ training specially designed to prepare you for your trip to the mountains