Whistler Blackcomb in Canada has been nominated for three consecutive years to be the number one overall ski resort in North America. On top of that, it is in close proximity to Vancouver and has hosted the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. We visited Canada during the spring of 2014, arriving on Vancouver Island mid March. When we heard that Whistler still had good snow, we did not wait and immediately took a ferry and bus from Vancouver Island to Whistler.
How excited I was when I had the chance to ski in this beautiful and famous resort, with its diverse slopes, fun activities to do, beautiful Whistler vacation homes and of course to be able to take the Peak 2 Peak gondola. Skiing in Whistler was an experience I had never expected to tick off my bucket list.
Whistler Winter Wonderland
Whistler village, nestled at the foot of the Whistler and Blackcomb mountain, is a quaint town that has the European ski town look of the Alps. Connected by a maze of pedestrian-only alleys, a multitude of lively restaurants, bars and shops welcome each visitor into its charming vibe. The village is the central area of the the whole Whistler Blackcomb ski resort. When arriving in this quaint town, you immediately get this pleasant feel to walk around the town and start exploring everything it has to offer during your stay.
The resort really gave me that feel of walking around in a winter wonderland, just like in the movies, only this wasn’t a movie set. I was there in spring and summer time, but I can only imagine how beautiful it must be in the middle of winter when the whole town is covered in snow. What also immediately drew my attention was the friendly and energetic atmosphere. From the hotel to restaurant and ski hire staff, everyone genuinely seemed to like being part of Whistler. They went out of their way to help each visitor get the most out of their stay.
Whistler Blackcomb ski resort
The ski resort is made up of both Whistler and Blackcomb mountains together with Whistler village at their base. The resort has around 200 marked runs, lots of off-piste terrain and 3 glaciers, all varying from beginner to advanced. Dozens of ski lifts and gondolas go up to the various slopes of each mountain from the village. Previously, in order to enjoy the trails of each mountain, you had to go down to the village and up again to the other mountain. Nowadays, both mountains are connected by the iconic record breaking Peak 2 Peak gondola. Both mountains offer great and varying skiing terrain with a large range of slopes for all abilities.
The Peak 2 Peak gondola is a true engineering masterpiece as both the worlds highest and longest continuous lift. It has an unsupported span of just over 3 kilometres and the highest point is 436 metres above the ground. The views from the Peak 2 Peak are just breathtaking. The advantage for taking this connection is that it is easier to get from one mountain to the other, and you don’t have to ski all the way down to the village anymore. Especially when we visited it was already April and the snow had started to melt on the lower parts of the mountain. For a not so experienced skier like me, it is really hard to make your way down in slushy and soft snow.
My skiing experience in Whistler
I have never really been a good skier. The reason is that I was introduced to skiing only at a later stage in life. I did go skiing once in my early twenties, but without lessons. Sadly, back then, I was not able to recreate the glamorous vision I had of skiing. Think James Bond at St Moritz in the 1970’s. In my case though, it was like a scene from a comedy movie the way I was sliding down the piste with next to no technique and my arms out wide. Sean however is a very keen snowboarder and he loves spending time in the mountains with his snowboard strapped to his feet. This made us decide one day to work as chalet hosts in Austria. I would enjoy the mountain by taking long walks while Sean would go snowboarding during our free time. When I did try to ski on one of my free days, I never expected to like it that much, but I did. And on top of it all, I didn’t do too bad either. It felt like I could finally conquer those slopes in a more glamorous way than I had done when I was fifteen years younger. So when I got to Whistler, I could now glide down the slopes with just a bit more class and style.
My few months skiing experience in Austria turned out to be a complete success and I could finally call myself a true skier and not an absolute beginner anymore. Unfortunately I could not continue practising since we decided to try conquer the African bush instead. Even though there are a few small ski resorts in Southern Africa, like Afriski in Lesotho and Tiffendell in South Africa, the time frame or season to ski there is really short.
When we decided to spend some time in Canada, we didn’t really expect to get a lot of skiing done, since it was getting towards the end of March already when we arrived. It was in Canada that we heard that Whistler Blackcomb still had very good snow higher up and the resort would still be open for a few more weeks. We took the opportunity and headed towards this famous ski resort. It turned out it had just snowed and the fresh powder made me immediately feel at easy skiing again. On the lower section of the mountain the snow was not that good anymore and slowly melted away. But the higher slopes were just great for me, being a novice / intermediate skier.
We stayed in Whistler for a few days and divided our time between the two mountains. We even made a detour via the glacier. Taking the Peak 2 Peak gondola was one of the highlights, the views from the gondola are just amazing. It should be on your bucket list when visiting Canada.
How to get to Whistler
The ski resort of Whistler is very easy to get to. It is located in close proximity to Vancouver. The best and easiest way to get to Whistler is by bus. Various bus companies leave at various times throughout the day from Vancouver to Whistler and the ride takes about 2h15. Once in Whistler, you don’t need a car to get around. You can either walk from your accommodation to the resort or take the local shuttle services. The drive from Vancouver to Whistler and back is really scenic and worth the ride.
The Sea-to-Sky Highway, also known as Highway 99, runs along the coast and offers stunning views on the coastal mountains, the ocean and thick forests. When driving yourself, there are plenty of places to stop and enjoy the view. When taking the bus, you will enjoy the whole scenic drive without having to pay attention to the road.
Why you should go skiing in Whistler Blackcomb
Why should you go skiing or snowboarding in Whistler Blackcomb at least once in your life? It is a prime ski resort in North America with great facilities and amenities, very good snow quality, lots of snowfall, friendly people and a great and energetic vibe. It’s not far from Vancouver or Vancouver Island and the drive to Whistler takes you through some of the most scenic countryside. All in all a perfect winter getaway.