Powder in focus—the rest is a blur on Blackcomb
You need to visit Whistler-Blackcomb if you like any of the following: skiing; snowboarding; après ski; sore quads; shit-eating grins induced by big bowls, narrow chutes, and excess powder; sushi that tastes as if the fish was caught, killed, and filleted within the previous five minutes (and maybe it was); meeting Europeans outside of Europe; Kokanee or Molson; and stumbling upon attractive Aussies and Kiwis around every corner.
The largest ski resort in North America, Whistler-Blackcomb is nearly 50% larger than its nearest competitor in terms of size, has the greatest uphill lift capacity of any resort in this hemisphere, and features a mile of vertical descent. Do you dream of skiing at a place where there’s always new terrain to uncover, untouched snow to find, and new best friends to make at an après scene whose fame rivals that of the slopes? If your answer is yes, book a flight to Vancouver, British Columbia ASAP. Whistler is only 70 miles away up the Sea to Sky Highway.
More than 8,000 skiable acres cover Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain, and the world’s highest and longest unsupported cable car, the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, connects them. In addition to the distinctive peaks, the mile-long vertical drop gives each mountain a microclimate of its own. While it can rain at the base and snow at the top of many western and eastern U.S. mountains, this phenomenon has assumed a regular cadence at Whistler. If it’s raining when you walk outside, it’s snowing at the top of the first chair (and the second chair and the third chair), so that by the time you’ve reached Horstman’s Hut high up on the flanks of Blackcomb, you’re standing in knee-deep PNW powder.
I first skied Whistler-Blackcomb in 2006 with a group of friends from college. We skied for three days in January and, after experiencing some of the best snow and most riotous fun of our entire lives, we booked another trip out in February. A decade and many bacchanalian excursions later, our yearly ski trip to Whistler has taught me many things, not least of which is to avoid Chilly Willy shots (snorting vodka from the concave bottom of a shot glass) at all costs. There’s the obvious—this is a skier’s dream destination—and the not-so-obvious—30 Kokanee beers and two 650-ml bottles of Fireball are going to cost you $100 USD in Whistler. (Alcohol prices in the town liquor stores are akin to highway robbery.)
Best of Whistler
- Most surreal vista (tie): Top of Blackcomb Glacier; Riding the Peak Express lift to the top of Whistler Bowl
- Top-to-bottom cruiser run on Blackcomb: Cloud Nine to Sunset Boulevard to Lower Gear Jammer
- Top-to-bottom cruiser run on Whistler: Upper Peak-to-Creek to Highway 86 to Expressway to Crabapple to Lower Olympic
- Tree run: In The Spirit (Blackcomb)
- Sushi, sake and shoe-less dining experience: Village Sushi
- Bar for those under-25: Moe Joe’s
- Bar I know I’ve been to approximately 8 times but cannot remember at all: Garfinkel’s
- Après ski nachos and general après ski ambiance: Longhorn Saloon
- Bar for live music: Dubh Linn Gate Irish Pub
- Biggest beef ribs and best poutine: Brewhouse
- Grub on the mountain: Thai and ramen station at the Rendezvous Lodge (Blackcomb)
- Drinks on the mountain: Hot spicy wine at Horstman Hut (Blackcomb)
- Ski-in/Ski-out hotel: Coastal Suites (Blackcomb)
Is there such a thing as too much powder?