I can’t help but think that spring skiing at Whistler-Blackcomb is one of the best deals in skidom. The snow up high is still winter-ish, there’s plenty of mid-mountain cruising and spring skiing conditions, and the runs are basically deserted. Throw in a C$79 spring season pass, excellent accommodation 100m from the lifts for sub-C$100 per night, and the choice of bars and restaurants all trying to get your business, and it’s almost a perfect storm.
On this visit, our 3rd consecutive year on the last weekend of April/early May, skiing all the way to the base of Blackcomb was still easily possible. Nearly all of Blackcomb was open, bar some of the lower runs which were somewhat grassy where the sun hit.
As always, the trick with spring skiing is to assess temperatures and conditions overnight, and head first to the aspect and elevation where soft snow or fine groomers can be found. From there, follow the sun and freezing level and time your descents to find the best snow. It takes a little thought. Not much though.
These tactics brought a sheer cornucopia of wonderful runs across the 4 days we were there. Perfect corn snow in Ruby Bowl, talcum-like grippiness in the steeps of Couloir Extreme and Cougar Chutes, 2 inches of untracked fresh creamy goop on Cloud Nine, and innumerable gelato-like bump runs that forgave both our dodgy techniques (pics here).
If you timed Rock and Roll and Ridge Runner perfectly, usually around late morning, some of the best long groomers on earth were all yours to enjoy. And like a steak restaurant on Good Friday, you didn’t have to fight for space, or fresh roid. Just roll over your edges and rip.
It was wonderful stuff, especially for late April. And just for the doom-sayers that plague Whistler, it didn’t rain either. Sorry about that, but make that 12 out of 12 rain-free days over the last 3 years of late April skiing. There’s a pattern here, methinks. I’ll let the reader discern that though.
We reluctantly left at 1pm on Sunday to take on the long drive home. The forecast for the next week was cold and snowy, so with luck we’ll be back in 3 weeks to play on Whistler and bring a reluctant end to a ski season that has blossomed since late February. Then it’ll be time to get the camping and hiking gear out. And start the 24 week countdown.
4 days – 8600m, 9200m, 10000m, 7000m vert
Season Totals: 56 days, 459,400 vertical metres, 13 powder days