Whistler Ski Holiday Guide
With more than 8,000 acres of terrain Whistler Blackcomb is the largest ski area in North America.
The two vast mountains are linked by Peak 2 Peak gondola and are home to more than 200 runs, glaciers, powder bowls, groomed trails, six terrain parks and plenty of back-country to explore.
And with a massive annual average snowfall, conditions are often incredible.
The Olympic Park, built for the 2010 games, is where you can try out a range of other winter activities. These include snowshoeing, tours of the ski jump complex and the biathlon rifle range. There is also skating available between December and March. Visit the Whistler Sliding Centre on Blackcomb to have a go at the three man or skeleton bobsleigh. Or take on one of the 129 cross country trails.
At over a kilometre, Whistler has Canada’s longest zipline, and you can even ride at night with just a head torch lighting your way. Take a snowmobile or dogsled tour of the area, exploring frozen lakes and the ancient cedar forests. And if all that sounds a little energetic, why not relax in the outdoor spa overlooking the mountains before cooling off in the waterfalls?
Whistler is also home to arguably the liveliest après ski scene in North America. You’ll find live music everywhere, and the bar terraces fill up with revellers mid afternoon, and the nightlife keeps going until the sun rises.
With more than 100 places to eat, all tastes and budgets are amply catered for. On the mountain, get classic dishes at Christine’s or check out the wood oven at Crystal Hut. For non-meat eaters, Raven’s Nest is one of the best vegetarian options.
In the village, top family options include the Spaghetti Factory, get a great pizza at Caramba or try something different at the Mongolie Grill. Good all round eating places include Earl’s and the Keg, with high end dining available at Araxi and Bearfoot Bistro.
Opened in the mid 1960s and built for an Olympics that never happened, Whistler Blackcomb has become one of the most famous ski areas in the world. In 2008 the record-breaking Peak 2 Peak gondola was opened, and Whistler finally hosted the Olympic Games in 2010.
The ski area is one of the largest in the world, with more than 8,000 acres of pistes and a vertical of more than 1,600 metres. The season runs from November until May with summer skiing also available. And with on average 12m of snow each season conditions are usually excellent.
There are lots of dedicated beginner areas, with the biggest being located at the Olympic Station. Here you’ll find slow zones, short lifts and magic carpets to help you find your ski legs. And once you’ve got the basics down, there is a huge number of green and blue runs to build confidence.
Some of the best intermediate runs on Whistler include Peak to Creek, Franz’s and Fisheye. And on Blackcomb, take on Ridge Runner, Rock’n’Roll and Honeycomb. If you want to move up to advanced, then try Bear Paw, Rat Fink and Harmony Bowl on Whistler, and Heavenly Basin and Blackcomb Glacier on Blackcomb. There is plenty of expert level skiing here too. The Whistler Bowl is a real challenge, as are Big Timber and Gun Barrels.
There are six parks between Whistler and Blackcomb, covering almost 100 acres in total. In all, there are 150 features and 40 jumps to try, all rated according to their difficulty. You can also ride the Olympic standard half pipe with walls seven metres high, or take on the boardercross course.
With so much snow Whistler is regarded as one of the best places for powder on the planet. All of the inbounds territory is avalanche controlled and patrolled meaning the entire mountain is available to freeride. However, if you are heading outbounds into the backcountry you will need a guide and all the avalanche gear as it can be very dangerous.
Some of the top inbound options include the Musical Bumps accessed via Flute Summit. It’s relatively protected so ideal for when the weather is not perfect. Cowboy Ridge is an extension of the Musical Bumps area and perfect for sunny days with a good choice of descents. Blackcomb glacier can be heaven after a big dump and Spanky’s ladder is well worth checking out. But there is off-piste fun to be had literally everywhere.
Out of bounds Spearhead Glacier is one of the most impressive backcountry areas. You’ll need to climb to it from the East Col. It’s a vast expanse of snow and can be a little risky but look around you and the views are majestic. Other popular areas include the northwest face of Mount Pattison and the Spearhead Traverse.