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

Blackcomb in May

Trip report format from Snowheads. Read on …

Date: April 30th-May 7th, 2011

Our mob: 3 addicted skiers

Website : here

Basics : Whistler closes one of its mountains at the end of April, and keeps the other open until, this year, May 30th. It’s Blackcomb’s turn this year. Access is via the Blackcomb gondola from Whistler  and the majority of the mid and upper mountain lifts are open every day. For Edge Card holders, a $79 Spring Season Pass is available. Yep, 7 days skiing for $79 bucks on this trip 😉

The skiing: It’s been a record-breaking La Nina year at Whistler, and the snow depth was still like mid-winter, with skiing all the way down to the village. When the weather was good, the place to be was up high in Glacier Bowl and off 7th Heaven. The mid mountain runs got slushy later in the day, but rarely sticky, rather with fun, sugary snow prevailing all the way down the village. Groomers like Cloud 9, Ridge Runner and Zig Zag were at various times in perfect condition, fast and carvable. In the alpine, Pakalolo, Cougar Chutes and the bump runs off the Jersey chair were epic as long as you timed it right. The only downer was 3 foggy days, occasionally reducing the visibility to levels similar to Donald Trump’s credibility for President. This was the time to hit the tree runs, with Bark Sandwich, In the Spirit and Outer Limits being places to lay tracks in great spring snow.

Lift lines. Er … none.

Off-piste : There was so much snow you could basically ski anywhere. We had runs off Spanky’s Ladder, which were superb, and explored some precipitous lines off the cat track just past Heavenly Basin. Again, as long as you were smarter than the average bear with your timing, there was some really great off-piste skiing. Talking of bears, we saw some pretty big tracks in the trees below Crystal Chair 😉

The resort : Whistler Village is fantastic in spring. It’s not too busy, even at weekends, and there are bargains galore to be had eating, drinking and shopping. I invested in a new Salomon jacket for half price that should suffice for next season. So many bargains, so little budget ;(

Food : We deliberately explored new eating options, and exploited a few of the many special deals available throughout the village. Huge prime rib and lamb shanks for less than $20 each were excellent at Wildwood. We had good food in the Aubergine Grill, respectable bar food in Earls (perched at the bar watching ice hockey), and, the discovery of the week, great Japanese ‘pub food’  at Izakaya Harajuku. There’s some genuine, excellent Japanese food in Whistler, and Harajuku is up there with the best. A special 3 course menu for $19 per person was a great deal. So good, we went twice.

Hotel: We booked a 2 bed/2 bathroom condo in Bear Lodge from ownerdirect.com for C$900 for a week. What a bargain. A 5 minute walk to lifts, spacious and comfortable, and entertaining views of the (small) crowds outside Garfinkels at weekends as a bonus!

Costs: A helluva lot cheaper than in winter. Get the weekly paper and follow the nightly specials in all the restaurants and bars, and there’s serious money to be saved.

Conclusion: I love Whistler in spring. The skiing is still extensive and superb, the slopes are quiet, prices low, and the weather generally excellent (less so on this crazy La Nina year though, where spring skiing everywhere is as elusive as an Alex Ferguson apology).  One day I’ll spend all May there. One day …

Skiing stats:

7 days: 11900m,  7900m,  10200m,  12200m,  8900m,  9200m,  7900m vert

Season totals:

70 days, 23 powder days, 605, 000m vertical

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