The Whistler Blackcomb Experience
Whistler, BC is Western Canada’s Mecca for outdoor winter activities and after our first visit there, it’s not hard to see why. Growing up in Banff, you hear a lot about Whistler – how much its similar in terms of activities, culture and size – essentially Banff’s “twin” village. I have to say that the ski-in, ski-out / après ski experience was phenomenal and I’m not sure that Banff, even with its reputation as a party town, has the same thing going for it. I’m definitely not going to play favorites because there are pros and cons to each village and I’d gladly give up real life to live in either, but here are the few things I noticed about the Whistler Blackcomb experience:
Whistler Blackcomb is HUGE
Whistler Blackcomb is actually so-named because it consists of two different mountains: Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain. That’s right, you get TWO mountains for the price of one! The entire area is a maze of t-bars, chairlifts and gondolas (38 in total, to be exact). When you compare that to Albertan hills like Lake Louise and Sunshine Village, it’s obvious that Whistler is the winner in terms of size. It’ll cost you, however, with the average price of a day ticket costing around $120. There are a variety of runs to suit every type of skier/snowboarder – tree runs with pockets of powder, long groomers and a super fun terrain park that just doesn’t seem to end!
Our favorite runs from Blackcomb Mountain:
- Blackcomb Glacier (accessible by Showcase T-Bar and then a short hike up and over the ridge): Big, steep, long bowls filled with POW! They all funnel into a cat track on which you’ll find the famous Ice Cave.
- 7th Heaven: if you love tree runs, this is the place for you. Unlike most tree runs where the trees are too tightly spaced and you can barely tell where you’re going, this one has widely spaced trees with just enough powder in between them so that you don’t lose control.
- Peak to Peak Tram (P2P) which connects the two mountains is a fun ride and you’ve got to get that iconic P2P photo!
It is BUSY
Maybe it’s the fact that it was the Family Day Long Weekend, or maybe just the fact that more space and more lifts equals more people, but I have to say I’ve never waited over an hour to get on a gondola in Banff before. Not to say it wasn’t worth it, but when it starts to pour with rain (I’ll talk more about this later), you don’t particularly want to be standing in a humungous queue.
Wet = cold.
We took one day to ski each mountain and came away with the conclusion that Whistler Mountain has much more people, lines for the lifts are longer in general, and the terrain isn’t as diverse.
On a powder day, Blackcomb Mountain is the better choice, because there are way less people there to scrape the snow away and you can enjoy the knee deep powder until late in the afternoon.
Whistler’s food is unreal
Nanaimo bar ice cream, fresh made Waffles, Australian pies topped with mashed potatoes and gravy, the list goes on… The food in Whistler is not only authentic and LOCAL, it’s unique.
In fact, I probably spent more time snapchatting food than actual scenery. The best part about Whistler village is that everything is close, easy to find and it has that small community feel that I grew up with and love.
Here are a list of the places we would definitely recommend while you’re there:
Whistler is beautiful
Everyone knows that Banff is a national park where the scenery is stunning and the views are breathtaking, but I wasn’t sure what to expect from Whistler. I have to say that even the drive along the coast from Vancouver to Whistler is shockingly beautiful.
No matter what you’re interested in, the Whistler area has got it all. If you want to fill up your time with other activities besides skiing, there are a TON of options. Here are just a few:
- Hiking in Garibaldi Provincial Park
- Dog Sledding
- Twilight Zip lining
- The Scandinavian Spa
- Hot Springs
I’m not trying to hate on Banff but it’s been a while since I’ve snowboarded in powder. So long, in fact, that my thighs were burning after just 2 runs. It snowed about 30 cm collectively over the course of the weekend, which is insane.
Of course, all the powder came at a price – we barely saw the sun the entire time we were there. Vancouver in the wintertime has the reputation for being cold, grey and dreary and Whistler was certainly no different.
While it was dumping snow up on top of the mountain, we skied down to the base to find ourselves in pretty much torrential rain.
While you’re packing for a ski trip to Whistler, make sure what you’re packing has some waterproofing.