I can’t remember what sparked the conversation in the Ski Independence office, but we worked out that between us, we’d visited Whistler Blackcomb over 60 times. That’s far more than any other ski resort we feature but there’s a very good reason; Whistler is our biggest selling North American resort. Apart from meaning we’ve racked up a lot of both air and ski miles, and stayed in a lot of Whistler hotels it also means we know Whistler Blackcomb inside out. Our clients can therefore be confident our unrivalled Whistler knowledge allows us to recommend the perfect flight, transfer and accommodation recommendations to ensure the perfect Whistler ski holiday.
We then took it a stage further and asked what our favourite things about Whistler were. After some debate we came up with our Whistler Top 10 which you’ll find below.
Do you agree with us? We’d love to hear what you love about Whistler and you can leave comments at the end of this blog.
1. Get Fresh
If there’s fresh snow in the forecast, say no to that nightcap, have an early night and make sure you’re at the base of Whistler Gondola at 7am for Fresh Tracks. They let a maximum of 650 skiers and boarders up on the first gondolas between 7.30am and 8.30am – first stop is a hearty breakfast at the Roundhouse and then you’ll be let out to play in the virgin powder and groomers.
Tickets cost around $18 for adults, $13 for children aged 7-12 and it’s free for anyone under 6
2. Steeps and Ladders
Spanky’s Ladder is on Blackcomb Mountain and is Whistler’s most famous steep, expert only terrain. Take the Glacier Express chair and ski or board along the ridge and then it’s a short 50ft hike up to the way in. Catch your breath, say a prayer, clip in and drop in to some seriously steep terrain. Fresh snow makes this special experience an extra special one.
3. Don’t Look Down
The Whistler Peak 2 Peak gondola linking Whistler and Blackcomb mountains is an engineering marvel that was completed just before the 2010 Winter Olympics. It holds a number of world records including the longest unsupported span of over 3kms (gulp) and is 436 metres above the valley floor at its highest point (gulp). Two of the 28 cabins have glass bottomed viewing windows but you’ll be pleased to hear there are separate queues for each type otherwise waiting in line would be a kind of Russian Roulette for the vertiginous.
4. The Ultimate Backcountry
Stick ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ on your ipod as the helicopter takes off and whisks you to your 1500 square mile backcountry playground. Whistler Heli-Ski has been running for over 30 years and offers daily heli-ski packages offering various amounts of vertical but with every turn being a powder turn. At the end of the day there’s an après party at the Bearfoot Bistro where they show videos of the day’s adventures. You can book your Whistler Heli-Ski package with Ski Independence from £559 per day
5. Feel the Burn
Peak to Creek is a four mile (7km) top to bottom leg burner over on Whistler Mountain that starts in the Upper Bowls and ends 5000ft later at the Creekside base area. It’s more of a zone than one single run, with lots of different ways down and in the main this is intermediate terrain. Time it so you hit the bottom at the end of the day and get stuck into some of the legendary après ski offered at Dusty’s Bar and BBQ.
6. Slopeside Apres
Irish bars have sprung up all around the world and even Whistler hasn’t been immune. It’s fair to say that some of them can leave you flat but not the Dubh Linn Gate. Located at the Whistler Mountain base under the Pan Pacific Mountainside hotel, the Dubh Linn Gate is one of the best we’ve been to. It’s an après ski mecca, dishing out pints and great bar food with an Oirish accent. If you prefer something more Canadian there’s the legendary Garibaldi Lift Co (GLC) or The Longhorn and over in Blackcomb you won’t go wrong at Merlins. Down at Creekside everybody ends up at Dusty’s. However be warned; some of us have found ourselves in ski boots past midnight – so don’t go before a powder day!
7. Scream If You Want to go Faster
The 2010 Winter Olympics at Whistler Blackcomb brought a lot of practical improvements. They spent many millions rebuilding the Sea 2 Sky highway cutting half an hour off airport transfer times. The Olympic legacy also meant some less practical and altogether more exciting projects that remain to this day. The Whistler Sliding Centre is the rather underwhelming name for the bobsleigh and skeleton track – 1700 metres of steeper than you’d think sheet ice capable of spitting you down at speeds of up to 75mph. The brave and the foolhardy can now experience this for themselves for around $150 as part of the Whistler Sport Experience programme.
8. Fine Dining
As well as being an exceptional winter sports destination, Whistler is also renowned as having arguably the best dining options of any North American ski resort. There’s a mind boggling choice of restaurants offering everything from fast food to high-end fine dining. The stand out for us is The Rimrock Café in Whistler Creekside. The Rimrock offers superbly cooked and presented fish and game in a relaxed atmosphere with a diverse and eclectic wine list. Although they modestly call themselves a café, this is a grown up fine dining restaurant with prices to match but we feel it’s worth every penny.
9. Hot Air
No Ski Independence top 10 would be complete without mention of the Fairmont Chateau Whistler in the Upper Village at the base of Blackcomb Mountain. A resort institution and a firm favourite with our clients, the Chateau offers guests a relaxed, stylish five-star experience and yet manages somehow to do it at a surprisingly affordable price. We highly recommend an après ski drink by the fire pits on the terrace outside the Mallard, the Chateau’s famous lounge bar. It’s the perfect slopeside spot to regale each other with tall tales from your epic day on the mountain.
10. Down Time
If you’ve ticked off the first nine things on our list we reckon your body might be in need of a little TLC. The Scandinave Spa is a spectacular outdoor eco spa located a little north of Whistler Village, spread over three acres with staggering views of Whistler Valley. The Scandinave concept is based around Finnish hydrotherapy and the spa offers Scandinavian baths, massages and relaxation areas. The focus is on nature and natural healing so expect lots of outdoor pools and treatment areas plus a bistro serving healthy fresh food and juices.
Ski Independence are the leading UK Tour Operator featuring Whistler Blackcomb. To find out more about the resort or to plan a holiday there contact our reservations team on 0131 243 8097 or fill in a quick online quotation.