Going Skiing on Whistler? Here’s what you need to know

By Marion Fernandez
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Going Skiing on Whistler? Here’s what you need to know

Marion Fernandez
 
 
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The Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort has to be one of the most impressive and immense places in the entire world where you can ski. And because of it’s so awesome, actually going there can feel a little overwhelming and might even deter you from wanting to take to the slopes. With over 8,100 acres of terrain which includes three glaciers, over 200 runs, 38 chairs, and 16 bowls, this Canadian skiers dream can seem too vast.

If you are thinking of trying your hand at skiing or snowboarding on Whistler, you do not need to feel overwhelmed and here’s what you need to know to make the most of a trip to this awesome winter sports location.

Best time to go

Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort in January
Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort in January

With an average of 360 inches of snow a year, the ski slopes at Whistler are ideal to visit in the winter months. The ski conditions are best in January and February, where there is a guarantee of good snow and fresh powder, but without the harshness of December. Since January is not a high vacation time, most visitors arrive on the mountain in March during spring break. When the Winter Olympics were held at Whistler in 2010, the games were cleverly timed in February, missing the boisterous spring break crowd.

Many people will avoid going skiing on a wet and rainy day, but the elevation is so high there that even if it is raining down in town, it will be snowing up on the mountain tops. Unless the weather is dangerous or at blizzard level, do not let the weather deter you from planning your trip or having a good time. You should be warned as well that there are afternoon snows that have been known to cause whiteout conditions. If you find yourself in a whiteout, do not panic. You will need to get into a bowl or wide trail to ensure you do not fall down and then follow it down to the bottom.

Getting There

There are some things that you should know about Whistler before you get there and are surprised. The first thing is that there are no cars allowed in the main area of the city, meaning you are going to have to be prepared to hoof it. The advantage is that if you were flying to that part of Canada, you would not need to worry about obtaining a car to get around.

Cable car to Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort
Cable car to Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort

Vancouver Airport has commuter buses that can get you to and from Whistler. You can also catch a bus from Vancouver itself, though keep in mind that Whistler is not just around the corner from Vancouver. You would still have a three-hour bus ride ahead of you.

There is a 90-minute tour of the mountain that is available for visitors where you can see the mountain via gondola. This will help you know where everything is as well as give you a good idea of how Whistler is laid out.

How Long to Stay

How long you want to spend at Whistler greatly depends on how much time you have. It would not be worth the trip to go all the way there for only one day of skiing. There are three-day passes available, which are a good idea, but you may want to stay longer than that. Even if you can’t visualize yourself skiing on the mountain for more than three days, you may enjoy stomping around the village for a day or two before you head out again. If you are making your way there, you might as well use the time as best as possible.

Whistler has more than skiing and snowboarding to offer as well. You can try out bobsledding or take a sleigh ride led by Clydesdale horses. The town also has impressive cuisine options so you should also try out the great food offerings while you’re in town.

Avoiding the Crowds

Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort
Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort

As Whistler is the largest ski mountain in North America and is well-known for hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics, it is an attraction for skiers from all over. In fact, even Olympians love to ski there. As a result, it is going to be crowded when you get there. The best time of year to really avoid the crowds is in April when there is still a good quantity of snow, but the spring breakers have left. As a bonus, ski gear and lift tickets are often reduced in April because of the low number of visitors they receive.

You can also avoid crowds while you are there by planning ahead. If you try to get into a restaurant at noon for lunch, you are looking at a long wait to get something to eat, taking away from your ski time. Instead, you can ditch the crowds in both the restaurants and on the slopes by skiing when everyone else is out to lunch. You should still eat something to keep your energy up but maybe catch a bite early or later, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the slopes and cut out the waiting for food.

Fresh Tracks

Buying a fresh tracks ticket means that you will be first up the gondola to the top of the hill and when the horn sounds that skiing is open for the day, your tracks will be the first ones made in the snow on the way down
Buying a fresh tracks ticket means that you will be first up the gondola to the top of the hill and when the horn sounds that skiing is open for the day, your tracks will be the first ones made in the snow on the way down

One of the best things about Whistler is the ability to upgrade your lift ticket for an extra $20 and get yourself on the hill first in the morning. Buying a fresh tracks ticket means that you will be first up the gondola to the top of the hill and when the horn sounds that skiing is open for the day, your tracks will be the first ones made in the snow on the way down. This is not a good idea if you are not an early riser, however, because if you are late, you will have to wait in line, regardless of whether you spent the extra $20 or not.

If the idea of going to Whistler has been on your mind, now is the time to get out there. The entire village is made for winter sports and will cater to your outdoor and skiing needs. You will not be disappointed.

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