Posted by: martinworster | January 25, 2011

111. WHISTLER, BC

Big mountain fun in Canada – Whistler is ‘the nuts’…

Just returned from an amazing little jaunt with the family to Whistler. I’ve always wanted to visit this resort in British Columbia, Canada and as I live relatively close I thought I’d make it happen. I’ve been back a few days and the mountain still haunts me. I had such an amazing big mountain experience there. By big mountain experience I mean ‘propa’ mountains with leg acheing runs, off piste potential and spiritual scenery. We only had two actual days in Whistler but I certainly packed it in and saw a lot of both mountains. Next time I must remember to take a GPS app so I can see how much ground I really cover.

Whistler – along with the now linked by the new Peak to Peak cable car to Blackcomb mountain – is the largest ski resort in North America. It is indeed massive. And consistently steep and challenging. Home to the Winter Olympics last 2010, just two hours north of Vancouver. I just did a quick search and of the 50 biggest (in terms of piste length) ski resorts in the world, Whistler is the only one in North America on the list, coming in at number 33 pop pickers. Even though we are in North America, big doesn’t necessarily mean best.

I can still feel the memories. Scooting around a little blue run mountain pass that snaked through forests after completing the 6 K Blackcomb glacier, trees whispering as the winds tickled the branches. Then I took the world record breaking (biggest, longest, tallest, bestest etc) cable car across to Whistler mountain and did the Peak To Creek run – at 11K, the longest single run in North America. It certainly tested the old legs.

The first day was perfect blue skies so I really got a great perspective. It had been raining a few days earlier which had then frozen so a lot of the lower runs were very icy. By very icy I mean shear sheet ice. That was also a test for the old legs. The next day it was snowing with light flurries and terrible visibility. On a few runs it was total white out, the type where you are launching yourself into a white abyss in which up or down is indistinguishable. I fell over a few times as you hit bumps on moguls. One time I launched into the air into a little ditch which could have quite easily been a cliff. 

I skied the second day and did the glacier run again – this time on my own and in poor visibility. I was on the mountains on my own – it’s moments like this I live for, out there all alone in the freezing elements feeling totally alive. At the end of the day muscles I never knew existed were acheing – but a pleasant, deserved and almost enjoyable ache, a lingering physical memory of the day.

I am a mug though. We left on the Friday morning and it was snowing. Big chunky snowflakes. It had been snowing all night. As we drove down the mountain it occurred to me that I should be staying. It was the weekend, and here I was, in Whistler with powder beckoning. A once in a lifetime opportunity to bounce around the mountain in the fluffy stuff and I pack my bags? In fact I’ve been regretting my decision to not turn around since leaving!

That said, I feel invigorated by this trip, my mountain appetite satiated for now. I will go back to Whistler and stay longer. I fell in love with the place and I will return.  The resort is flawless – friendly (loads of Australians working there), well organised, big and challenging, beautiful and rewarding. Okay enough gushing…see for yourself.

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