27 March 2019

Eight curious facts about skiing at Whistler Blackcomb

Today I’m going to talk to you about one of the most iconic ski resorts in the world. It’s a resort that’s probably on the wishlist of every single ski fan out there. That’s because Whistler Blackcomb never fails to impress. Even for people who don’t ski!

1. Signage on the slopes
Whistler, along with Niseko and Sapporo, get more snow over the course single season than any other resorts. That’s why the signage on the slopes is so different. The slopes are only well marked at lower elevations, which is where the most highly trafficked areas are. On the rest of the mountain you can ski more freely, because you’ll never find an area without snow. However, areas with risk of avalanche and cliffs are very well marked. With Skitude Premium I could see my tracks in 3D and that’s when you can see how expansive the resort really is.

2. Operating hours
Another very important point to remember is that the ski resort opens from 8:30 to 15:00. That is because of its latitude. In December the sun sets around 16:20, so opening until 17:00 would be impossible. The neighbouring Cypress resort (closer to Vancouver) has artificial lighting, so the ski day goes until 10 at night.

3. Types of skis.
With skis under 80 mm wide you won’t have a good time at Whistler. The only groomed trails are at key points in the resort: at low elevations and main trails. To ski well it’s best to use rather wide powder skis.

4. Safety on the slopes
Kamikazes are not welcome at Whistler. We’ve all seen skiers and snowboarders going down very crowded slopes at excessive speeds. The Canadian resort has tried to solve this problem by putting trail workers at lower elevations of the mountain where people tend to go fast. They warn skiers if they’re going too fast, and even rescind their passes if necessary.

5. Ski pass prices
We’re not going to lie, skiing at Whistler isn’t just expensive, it’s super expensive! A one-day pass costs 178 Canadian dollars (around €118). You then have to add in the cost of hiring skis, rocketing the price of a ski day up to €200. That’s why I only skied two of the six days I was there. In the end there are lots of other activities that are both fun and affordable: cross-country skiing, uphill skiing, snow-shoeing, hiking, etc.

6. Vertical drop
Skiing at Whistler is a thrilling and exotic experience. The winter resort has a skiable drop of nearly 2,000 metres. That’s right, I said 2,000 metres! The base of the resort is at 653 metres of elevation and the summit is at 2,436 metres. Skiing all the way from top to bottom is definitely exhausting but the experience is unforgettable. With the Skitude app you can see that in just 9 runs I did a total of 32 km. The longest was a run from an elevation of 2,400 metres to 600 metres.

7. Apres-ski for everyone
At the base of the resort there is an area with shops, a supermarket, restaurants, pubs, etc. The area is 100% pedestrian so there are no cars, and although there are lots of bars to have a beer or wine after a day of skiing, it’s worth pointing out that the vibe is very sporty and the party usually wraps up rather early. I experienced this on New Year’s Eve. We were in a restaurant on the outskirts of Whistler and when the clock struck midnight we decided to head off to bed because we were tired from the whole day of skiing and still a big jet lagged. Around 1:00 in the morning we walked through the centre of Whistler and nobody was there. Everyone had gone to bed!

8. The Peak 2 Peak gondola
Although it doesn’t seem like much, a trip on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola is a sensational experience. This ingenious machine joins the two mountains that give the resort its name: Whistler and Blackcomb. It was built in 2007 by the Austrian company Doppelmayr. The trip is 4.4 kilometres long and lasts around 11 minutes. The most spectacular part of the trip is the central part of the cable car where there are no towers and you are suspended more than 400 metres off the ground. It’s absolutely a must-do if you visit this Canadian ski resort.

I hope these eight points were able to let you in on a tiny sample of the sensations I had when I skied at Whistler Blackcomb. I would recommend it very highly.

Roma Martí, Skitude Ambassador.

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