Winter Olympic Experience Day 3: Fresh Tracks
Got up at 6am on Friday to get ready for an epic ski day…
Jumped on the first bus at Creekside and travelled 5 minutes up the road to Whistler Village to grab our skis from the Salomon store underneath the Pan Pacific Mountainside. I’d rented a new pair of K2 Apache Xplorer all-mountain skis (which turned out to be so good, I think I’ll have to buy a pair). We then walked the 200m over to the Whistler gondola for 7.15am to head up the mountain for full buffet breakfast – this is called Fresh Tracks and is a separate ticket to your lift ticket: you get early access to the mountain and a huge buffet breakfast at the top of the mountain – it is one of Whistler’s best features, especially on a powder day. Today was a powder day!
After gorging ourselves on bacon and scrambled eggs, and wondering why Canadians have maple syrup on their bacon, we waited for ski patrol to finish avalanche blasting. It was windy and snowy and cold with poor visibility at the top, with 10cms of new snow – not ideal conditions but perfect for what we had in mind. Ski Patrol rang the bell, and we scrambled to be first on the slopes. After a few warm up runs in hero-snow conditions on the piste, we headed off into the trees for some trickier stuff. The amount of snow Whistler has had this winter is mind-blowing. There’s a huge snowbase and all the obstacles (fallen trees, rocks etc) were fully covered – it was literally ski what you can see stuff. Had a very cheeky little run down underneath the Garbanzo chair with huge drops and rolls, took a peak at the Olympic Downhill courses and generally skied like a hooligan. We even had time for coffee. Lunch was back in the Roundhouse at the top of Whistler for a sit down meal in Steeps – white table cloth plus a fabulous wine menu.
After lunch the weather looked clearer over on Blackcomb, so we hopped on the staggering new Peak-to-Peak gondola which links Whistler to Blackcomb in 11 minutes. The stats on this lift are super-impressive, ie: it cost $50M, it’s 1400m off the ground in the middle…and some of the gondola’s have a glass floor… Over on Blackcomb, the weather was indeed much better and we hammered down to the Glacier Express to make the last uplift towards Blackcomb Glacier. It was the last run of the day so we took a vote and decided that Spanky’s Ladder would be a fitting way to finish off. After a short hike up to the ridge, we then slid along the arete to the high entrance into Ruby Bowl – Whistler/Blackcomb double black diamond terrain par excellence. Steep and deep, with a couple of tight pitches thrown in, plus a massive vertical drop down onto the Blackcomb Glacier. I have to say it was some of the best turns I’ve ever had – amazing snow depth, no bumps, great pitch and predictable quality. I was knackered at the bottom. If you’ve never skied Spanky’s, you need to put it on your list – you will not be disappointed.
Once we were down onto the glacier it’s a fairly long high-speed 6kms ski down through Blackcomb to a cold pint of Kokanee waiting at the Mallard Bar in Fairmont Chateau Whistler. After scooping a few lagers, we took a quick bus ride back to Creekside we had all our Canadian friends round to the condo to watch some more ice hockey and to drink more beer, then headed over to Canada House to watch the last period of the ice hockey (which Team Canada won), drink more beer and have dinner with 36 Canadian suppliers. A fun night – a long day, but too much beer…
Nicely done Nick!!
Loving it – sounds awesome. But turning green with envy stuck here behind my desk.
Love it!!! I am so happy you had such a good time…and thanks for recapping all the beer and wine consumption and summarizing our LOVE for hockey!!!
Whistler thoroughly enjoyed having you and we are all still buzzing from an amazing 17 days. We are now on the eve of the Paralympic Games and just as excited.
21 cms to enjoy in the past 24 hours…must get out and ski…..