Pacific Northwest Ski blog (and a few other places!)

Lots or reports from skiing around the Pacific Northwest, with some East Coast excursions thrown in for good measure

Turkey-free Thanksgiving at Blackcomb

Blackcomb is at Whistler, so technically we were there too. But in 4 days, we only skied Blackcomb. Great snow, no crowds (after the first two hours on opening day), so basically no need to fight the masses in the Whistler gondola line. Whistler next time …

We knew we were in for a good time when the snow started as we drove thru Squamish on Wednesday night. We arrived late, but the heavy snow storm sure boded well for Blackcomb’s opening day on Thursday.

Getting Edge Cards slowed down progress a little in the morning, but we were still on the Wizard chair at 8.30. The lift line at Solar Coaster took a few minutes to negotiate, but by 9am we were stood at the top of Springboard, covered in lightly tracked boot deep snow. It wasn’t the lightest powder ever, but still enormous fun. The morning was spent cruising all the runs off the Solar Coaster and Excelerator chairs. It was easy to find nice untracked snow in the trees, especially around Catskinner. Eventually the Jersey Cream chair opened, and Kathy and I ripped a few quick runs to end an excellent day of 7700 vertical metres.

Day 2 dawned colder and with 20cm of new. It was also opening day for the Glacier Chair, and I suspect all the serious powder hounds headed straight to the lift line waiting for the 10am-ish start. This meant the runs off Solar Coaster were essentially empty for two hours. I scored first tracks down Bark Sandwich, and fresh lines were available all morning on the black diamonds off Solar Coaster. Mid morning we moved to the Jersey chair, where there was still lots of wonderful, light powder to indulge in.

By 11.15, the line at the Glacier Chair was still large-ish, and our legs were completely shot from a huge, fast morning. An early lunch seemed a good plan, and was actually kinda necessary too, as we were all exhausted. At noon, everyone else headed in, and we crawled out to hit the empty Glacier chair.

It’s fair to say that collectively none of us quite recovered the vigor of the morning’s skiing. But we hung in, doing laps of Ridge Runner and Glacier Bowl. Outer Limits was a lot of fun, tight trees, steep and lots of snow. Reminder to self – go there next time in the morning with fresh legs :-}. We rolled off the hill about 3.30 and sank in to the hot-tub for recovery beers. 8700m of powder took their toll!

Saturday saw another 5-10cm of fresh. This time it was opening day for the Peak Chair at Whistler, so Blackcomb was essentially deserted. I headed up Spankys ladder mid-morning and enjoyed a lone, peaceful and exhilarating run down lots of sweet fresh snow in Ruby Bowl. In the afternoon we played around various places in Glacier Bowl, and it seemed we had the lift to ourselves. Another excellent, 9200m day.

Sunday was cold, another 15-20cm down to the village, and, guess what – deserted again! We had to leave by 2pm, and the fog in Glacier Bowl encouraged us to spend the morning off the lower chairs. After lunch, I headed for a few runs in Glacier Bowl, and stumbled on to one of the best runs of the weekend.

Following Ridge Runner to the top of the (closed) Crystal Chair, I dived in to the Crystal lift line run, which was somewhat tracked, bumpy, soft and fun. 2/3rds of the way down, it seemed everyone cut left and headed back to the Glacier Creek chairs. This left the remainder of the chair line mostly untracked and knee deep. Absolute heaven. From the bottom, I continued on through the trees of In the Spirit, carefully avoiding the creek I’d slid in to the previous day in there. It was much easier to spot now there was a big, skier shaped hole above it.

7800m by 1.45pm left me shattered but very satisfied. I was a little less thrilled 12 hours later after a slow drive through a storm that got steadily worse as we headed south through Vancouver. There was 30cm of snow on the freeway in Bellingham, trees down and cars in ditches everywhere. Driving in ski season can be a very entertaining affair ….

And technically, only Kathy had a turkey-free Thanksgiving. Jan had a turkey sandwich, and I had a bite of it.

Season summary so far:

6 ski days

4 powder days

44,300 vertical metres

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