WHISTLER, B.C. — There are many great debates to have when in Whistler, such as where to party, which restaurant to eat at and which hotel to stay at, but none can be so challenging as standing at the base of Whistler and Blackcomb and making the call on which mountain to hit.
At the north end of Whistler Village, you will hear your name being called by some of the best runs you’ll ever shred. Even if there was only one mountain you could be kept busy for weeks, but combined, Whistler/Blackcomb makes for an unrivalled experience. Over 200 runs, 8,000 skiable acres (the largest in North America), 38 lifts and an average of over 10 metres (33 feet) of snow in a season are just a few of its impressive stats.
Blackcomb is home to some of my top picks for runs, including Seventh Heaven and the Blackcomb Glacier. Blackcomb’s upper alpine area is supreme, and Seventh Heaven has lived up to its name more than a few times. Massive glade options on the lower half and wide open powder bowls on the top make this my #1 choice for any powder-filled morning.
If you are looking for something a little more adventurous, make the hike up and onto the Blackcomb Glacier, accessible by the Glacier T-Bar found at the top of the Glacier Express Quad. You may note that while on the Jersey there is a line of hikers to your left making their way up to what’s known as Spanky‘s Ladder, which provides access to Ruby Bowl - I recommend you follow their lead.
Not for the faint of heart, this is an adrenaline pumping double diamond run which most days delivers a grin from ear to ear.
The Blackcomb Glacier is more tame, and features a nice little hike to its entrance with a wide open powder bowl waiting to reward you for your efforts. And don’t miss out on a signature Blackcomb experience - a stop in for some stellar waffles at the Crystal Hut.
The slopes of WhistlerBlackcomb have incredible snowfalls, even in March.
Over on the Whistler side, I'd suggest heading right in for some sweet turns coming out of Symphony bowl. It was just recently that Whistler developed this area, and a great new quad chair has been added.
With some outstanding hiking options, here you’ll get to “ski the backcountry” while still in bounds. The lower half of Symphony, accessible by blue and green runs, feature some stellar skiing and riding for the entire family. Whistler is also home to the “fresh tracks breakfast,” which provides you access to the mountain before everyone else and features a great breakfast at the Roundhouse mid-mountain.
On a powder day this is an investment which cannot steer you wrong.
This season Whistler/Blackcomb helped to make the decision of which mountain to hit just a little easier, by installing its newest lift transport system, the $55 million dollar Peak 2 Peak Gondola.
“Peak 2 Peak really gives you options; you don’t have to stick with which ever mountain you started with,” said former Crazy Canuck and ski legend, Steve Podborski. “This project is simply unique, two mile high mountains now joined at their mid points.” Bridging the gap between both mountains at around their mid-mountain points, this engineering marvel is the world’s longest horizontal spanning gondola in the world at over three kilometres long and over 400 meters above Fitzsimmons Creek below.
One of the biggest things this development allows for is exploring both mountains with only an 11-minute transfer.
The official symbol for the 2010 Olympics, a real Inuksuk can be found on the slopes of the host venue, Whistler Blackcomb.
“If the snow is really good, my pick is to head up Spanky’ s Ladder and into Ruby’s Bowl, but if it’s a bit more skied out, I like to head into Lower Franz,” said Podborski, who was also part of the 2010 Olympic organizing committee.
With Ruby’s on Blackcomb and Franz on Whistler, now both options are that much closer. This development is really going to come in handy in the early and late parts of the seasons, keeping you high and in where the powder’s at.
However, a little word from the wise – because of their size, work to master one mountain before making your way to the next. This way you won’t spend so much time lost and can truly unlock all the secret stashes that await on either Whistler or Blackcomb.
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