Whistler Blackcomb Travel Guide

Skiing Whistler
Skiing Whistler © Tourism Whistler

Consistently rated as the number one ski resort in North America, and among the best in the world, Whistler Blackcomb is just a two-hour drive from the city of Vancouver in the Coast Mountain range. The Village of Whistler lies cradled in a valley between two mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb, that rise up 5,280ft (1,609m) to provide more than 8,100 acres of prime mountain terrain, including 12 alpine bowls, three glaciers and more than 200 marked ski trails to enjoy while on holiday. In fact, the state-of-the-art facilities at Whistler provided the cross-country, biathlon, Nordic combined, and ski jumping venues for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

The resort offers state-of-the-art lifts that can carry 60,000 skiers per hour to jump-off points throughout the area. With two million visitors coming on holiday to Whistler Blackcomb every year, such lift capacity becomes a necessity! Skiers and snowboarders flock here from the world over, not for the weather (which can often be wet and foggy) but for the exceptional variety of skiing.

The village of Whistler is set around a cluster of small lakes and is British Columbia's fastest-growing municipality. It boasts a quaint village atmosphere and offers shopping areas and après-ski restaurants bordered by squeaky-clean streets. In summertime, Whistler Blackcomb is a popular holiday destination when the focus shifts to outdoor activities like mountain biking, hiking and fishing.

Snowfall is rare in the city of Vancouver, but is more than adequate for the ski slopes on the Coast Mountains to the north where Whistler is situated. As with all Canadian ski resorts, Whistler can get very cold. Go prepared for the occasional blizzard. In general though, temperatures are moderate throughout the winter season, rarely dipping below 12°F (-10°C) in the valley and 5°F (-15°C) on the peaks during the coldest part of the year. Average daily alpine temperature during most of the winter months is 22°F (-5°C).

Both Whistler and Blackcomb mountains offer a huge variety of skiing for all standards of skiers. Generally, Whistler has more scenic alpine bowls while Blackcomb has more tree runs, so is better on days with poor visibility. Beginners will particularly enjoy the Green Line, a very long, gentle run from the upper terminal of the 7th Heaven Express in Blackcomb.
Whistler and Blackcomb also offer a massive choice of on- and off-piste skiing for intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders. Experts will be challenged by the black-diamond chutes running off the back of the Horstman glacier (below the Mile High summit). Due to the crisp temperature, powder skiing in Whistler is often touted as the best in the world. Whistler and Blackcomb are very family friendly with child-minding services and all-day ski lessons for children.

If the glare of the snow becomes a bit too much while on holiday in Whistler Blackcomb, take time out to explore the shopper's paradise which is the village of Whistler. In the quaint plazas of Whistler Village, Upper Village and Village North nestle about 150 attractive shops, boutiques and art galleries, open seven days a week. Warm interiors beckon with a wide variety of merchandise, from native artwork and jewellery to high fashion for label lovers, and plenty of souvenirs.

Comfortable and casual are the keywords for dining while on holiday in Whistler Blackcomb, with a choice of more than 80 top-class restaurants offering a variety of cuisines covering the flavours of the world. There are options from luxury fine dining, like the Bearfoot Bistro (rated as one of Canada's Best restaurants by the American Wine society journal) to small bistros and cafés. One of the busiest eateries all year round is The Brewhouse, which offers speciality beers and handcrafted ales along with its menu, pool tables, cosy fireplaces and large screen televisions. For a satisfying filler why not create your own pizza at the popular Busterino's.

Whistler rocks with some of the best nightlife in British Columbia. Visitors on holiday in Whistler Blackcomb can browse the options presented in the holiday resort's news magazine, The Pique, which provides updated bar and nightclub listings every Thursday. Popular spots are Garfinkels, where the holiday crowd is treated to funky classic dance hits, and the intimate Moe Joe's. Older revellers on holiday in Whistler Blackcomb will enjoy Buffalo Bill's, which specialises in comedy nights.

Clubbers can get going at Tommy Africa's and Maxx Fish from 11pm till the small hours. Those preferring a cosy pub head for Le Brasserie, in the Village Square, for some people-watching. Whistler Blackcomb's wine and cigar bars provide a mellow alternative for the more sophisticated visitors who enjoy sipping cocktails. Whistler's public transportation system runs until 3:30am to accommodate the nightlife crowd.

It is not all skiing and snowboarding. Whistler Blackcomb provides a host of other fun holiday diversions like cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, sleigh rides, dog sledding, snow-shoeing and ice hockey. There are also spas offering beauty and massage treatments, excursions to Vancouver and other places of interest, eco-tours and flightseeing trips on offer.
In summertime the list of Whistler Blackcomb holiday activities is even longer, including horseback riding, guided fishing tours, glacier tours, jet boat adventures, zip-trekking, canoe trips, river rafting and bungee jumping. The resort also boasts four championship designer golf courses. Children's programmes operate all year round.
In addition to the regular activities, there are always exciting sports events and festivals on at Whistler Blackcomb. For 10 days in April, the TELUS World Ski and Snowboard Festival entertains with high-energy action. Free outdoor concerts, demo days and the Ripzone Snowboard Invitational and World Skiing Invitational guarantee an action-packed celebration.
An eclectic menu of entertainment, music and magic fill the Whistler Blackcomb calendar from June through September ensuring holiday fun for the entire family. The Village comes alive with strolling musicians, dazzling magicians and colourful comedians. July means the Whistler Arts and Music Festival. This annual festival showcases local artist exhibits, street entertainers, art walks, outdoor films and live music from jazz to Calypso and funk to Miriachi.
Champion mountain bikers hurl themselves down Whistler Mountain at break-neck speeds and perform gravity-defying bike stunts during August's CrankWorx Festival.

As with all Canadian ski resorts, Whistler Blackcomb can get very cold. Go prepared for the occasional blizzard. The resort can be overrun with young partiers around the holidays, and shops and accommodation can be expensive.