Skiing at the largest ski resort in the world outside Europe is simply like no other. And the drive along the scenic “Sea to Sky” Highway to reach the twin mountains from Vancouver makes it more unforgettable.
The ski resort is Whistler Blackcomb , located in Whistler, a beautiful town north of Vancouver, British Columbia, with almost 12,000 residents and three million annual visitors. The consistently ranked number I year-round resort consists of the interconnected Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain . The two areas, situated on two ridge-lines, are separated by a deep valley with a creek, Fitzimmon’s Creek, running along the valley floor. Besides alpine skiing and snowboarding, the area with an incredible 8,171 acres (3,307 hectares) of terrain and huge vertical drop of 1,609 meters and over 200 ski trails, offers snowshoeing, tobogganing, and ski jumping. In 2010, before the Whistler Blackcomb holdings were bought by the American Company Vail Resorts, Whistler was the proud host mountain resort for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
Whistler Blackcomb features the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, holding the record for being part of the longest continuous lift system in the globe, to move and transport skiers between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains at the top. Skiers are served by a lift system of 36 lifts (Whistler – 19, Blackcomb – 16 ) plus Peak 2 Peak. There are 5 gondolas (including 1 high-speed quad: Blackcomb Excalibur), 2 high-speed six pack chairlifts, and 12 high-speed quad chairlifts.
The area is quite big – you don’t need a terrain map; it’s easy to get lost in the slopes. So, what you need to enjoy the slopes is an atlas! It’s unbelievable that the longest ski runs, from Peak to Creek, the easy green road at the twin mountains are eleven (11) kms or 7 miles. Out of the 200 ski runs 35 of them are the easiest green, 110 more difficult (marked by blue square) 35 most difficult, and 20 experts. Whistler Mountain has more beginner terrains than Blackcomb, so we start at Whistler Mountain by taking the Village Gondola and later go up to Olympic Chair and then hop back on the Whistler Village Gondola to head for higher terrain taking us to the family zone. Here the view is fantastic! Then we need a bite to eat here at the Roundhouse Lodge, one of the eighteen (18) restaurants on the mountain top with the Rendezvous as the biggest where you can get everything from burger and fries to curries and pizzas.
After taking a picture with the “inuksuk” we head down under the chairlift for the runs on Ego Bowl or, as the atlas says, Lower Whiskey Jack, ending at the bottom of the Emerald Express Quad where we continue down on Upper Olympic and It Happens to hit the Olympic-mid station learning space. All these runs are not steep. They are wide with plenty of rooms to maneuver and are long enough for us to feel like we’re having a great mountain experience.
On the Blackcomb side , route Expressway (taking the B terminal of Peak 2 Peak gondola) we take a gentle easy ride down to the bottom of 7th Heaven Express and continue on Green Lane and the long and gently twisting Easy Out to the bottom of Blackcomb.
A world-class resort usually comes with world-class price tags. Whistler Blackcomb is no exception. Because it’s one of the best, it’s worth the price. A one-day lift ticket for adults costs between $139 to $149 depending on the monthly season. Whistler Blackcomb is open for winter operations with enhanced safety protocols in place because of the covid-19 pandemic. Lift tickets are available on-line only to limit capacity and maintain distancing. Face coverings are mandatory!
You need not to ski to enjoy the mountains. Grab your ticket, the Peak 2 Peak 360 experience ticket, for access to the entire gondola system that will transport you across the valley between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. And experience the cultural metropolis of Whistler main village at the bottom of the mountain, a no-car zone making it easy to stroll around and enjoy the boutiques, retail outlets, gift stores, cafes, and restaurants. The village led by an elected council also incorporates various community services, hotels, condominiums and vacation properties.
Trivia: The biggest ski resort in the world is the ski resort Les 3 Vallees – Val Thorens/Les Menuires/Meribel/Courchevel located in Savoie, France. The Ski Mountain Resort Park City is the biggest in the United States.