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

Tag Archives: Whistler

Getting Value-for-Money from Edge Cards @ Whistler

It’s been an odd start to the ski season in the Pacific Northwest. Odd, but sufficiently snowy, which is a lot better than the Rockies!

A huge pre-Thanksgiving dump set up our annual Whistler trip beautifully. Then, express pineapples from Hawaii arrived, ensuring we arrived at a somewhat sodden village for Thanksgiving weekend. Luckily the rain stayed away until Sunday, and the groomer skiing was pretty darn fine and extensive. Even in the rain on Sunday, the skiing was excellent. Just soggy. We bailed early.

Returning two weeks later, another storm cycle had considerably improved conditions. Outer Limits was boney but very skiable, and on Saturday we had lots of fun off the newly opened Peak chair. There were still surprises though, like the mandatory skis off creek crossing on Jersey Cream on the exit from Overbite. We followed a patroller’s example. 🙂

Finally, we sneaked another two days just before the Xmas madness started. This time it felt like winter. The conditions were excellent top to bottom. It was cold and crisp. Virtually the whole mountain was open and it was deserted.

Pics here show how the conditions changed over the month. And thanks to the Edge card deal we have, seven of these nine days were free. Thanks Vail! We’ll be back to use our remaining 3 days of the 5 day Edge card in February.

As we rolled out on the Friday afternoon after a fabulous day, the stream of vehicles heading up the mountain foretold the madness of the arriving Xmas hordes. It was going to be a crazy busy one.

ThxGiving 8100m, 8800m, 8800m, 4200m

December 8-10th 9500m, 10,300m, 9100m

Stevens Pass 4800m

December 21-22 9900m, 10,900m

Season Totals: 12 days 98,400m vert


Starting off Spring at Blackcomb

I don’t think there’s a better place to be on Earth than Whistler Blackcomb in the first week of May. The village is quiet, accommodation cheap (yes, cheap!), there’s restaurant and bar specials everywhere, and of course, some epic skiing, usually on Blackcomb. The weather – it’s Whistler – can be Springtacular, foggy, damp or full on winter. We had them all in 6 days. A fantastic 6 days, of steeps in packed pow, epic groomers, and Springy corn snow under deep blue skies.

Here’s pics from the (mostly) Springtacular days 🙂

Another luxury is the lift times, from 10-4pm. Lie in, relax, ride until it gets too hot (or damp!), head down the slush to the base, and chill in Blacks or Merlins for an apres beer or two. With no lift lines, the vert can be cranked out without really trying. And all for a $159 Spring Pass. It’s heaven.

Hopefully, Vail won’t fuck up this perfect time of year up for many years to come. It really is impossible to beat.

10,300m, 10,000m, 10,900m, 12,200m, 10,500, 5300m vert

66 days, 556,000m vert, 16 powder days


MLK Weekend at Whistler

It’s weird, as we don’t usually ride Whistler in mid winter. When the whole mountain is actually open. The crowds were even very respectable for a US holiday weekend. And with rather calm, benign weather, it was kind of a luxury to be honest.

With so much terrain, epic and varied terrain in fact, it’s impossible to beat Whistler in North America. There is simply so much superb skiing. Simple delights like a top-to-bottom, deserted,  Peak-to-Creek runs are not possible to replicate on this continent. There’s trees, killer steeps, epic groomers. And in mid season, if you can see it, you can ski it.

Friday we luxuriated in the emptiness, spending a lot of time on the Symphony chair. We played on the numerous lines into Rhapsody Bowl and ducked in and out of Glissando Glades. Low angle tree fun at it best.

Saturday was a Blackcomb day. We got caught in one 10-minute line at 7th Heaven at 10.15am, but apart from that, waiting was no big deal. This was a full mountain exploration day. I really enjoyed Raptor Ride and Where’s Joe, two tree runs on the way to 7th Heaven. It’s a bit of a trek back to Solar Coaster, but this particular Saturday it was well worth it.

Back to Whistler for Sunday. Lots of long groomers (‘coz they were epic) down to Creekside and off the Garbanzo chair. Seppo’s under the lift line was very worthy too, if a bit sketchy down low. Crowds – well, there weren’t any.

And Monday we just ripped Blackcomb groomers, mostly off the Crystal Chair. There were a few excursions into glades like Outer Limits and Log Jam, and the rocky steeps under the chair (no idea what they are called), but basically we just flew on fantastic corduroy with few slow moving obstacles on the runs to avoid. I clicked out of my bindings back at our Wood Run condo at 12.59pm , with over 10Km vert on the GPS. Bummer we had to drive home really.

10,800m, 10, 900m, 11,700m, 10, 100m vert

Season totals 25 days,  205,800m vert, 8 powder days

A very warm early May at Blackcomb

Summary of post for busy readers:

  • fabulous Spring skiing for 4 days on Blackcomb
  • It’s ridiculously warm and the snow is melting fast

This was 4 days of some of the best Springy goodness you can ever have on skis. Soft groomers early, dollops of corn by lunchtime especially around 7th Heaven, and epic lines to pick off in the afternoon off the Glacier chair.

The only downside is the temperatures are making the snow disappear very rapidly. The amount of melt in 3 weeks since Whistler closing weekend is quite staggering. This is a stupidly warm Spring. The runouts to the lower chairs were brown mush by the afternoon, and on Sunday rocks appeared on high traffic areas on 7th Heaven. The heat from the previous day did some serious damage.

Run of the trip was an 11am descent of the Blackcomb glacier. A short hike led to innumerable lines of heavenly corn snow down the full length and breadth of the broad glacier. You just picked your line and like Donald Trump on illegal immigration, let it rip without a care in the world. Below the glacier, the run out was slow, and in several places. bare. Walking required. It was worth it.

On 7th Heaven, a lunch time push out skier’s left revealed high quality lines in Lakeside Bowl. Huge radius high speed turns were the order of the day while watching the pond skimmers try their luck on the melting blue edge of the glacial lake. It was all slightly surreal.

As 7th Heaven closed, runs like Cougar Chutes, Pakalolo and Heavenly Basin delivered steep and soft turns. It was actually remarkable how well all the runs held up in the afternoon heat. Our standard last run of the day from the top of Jersey Cream down Zigzag was fantastic at 3.30pm-ish every day. High speed slush riding is epic fun. Just let those rockers ride the snow and hang on.

I hope we get some more in before this crazy hot Spring melts all the snow.

9,300m, 9500m, 8200m, 6900m vert

Season Totals: 66 days, 535, 700m vert, 23 powder days


Closing Weekend at Whistler

Closing weekend is a fine thing at Whistler. The crowds have gone, the snow is deep and the weather usually highly pleasurable, in a typical mixed up Whistler kind of way. We spent most of the weekend cruising all over Whistler, checking out the free demos at the Roundhouse – in my case, Prior demos. Prior skis are fine things.

Saturday was cooler and it even drizzled a little in the afternoon, which had the curious effect of speeding up the snow late in the day. The Peak fogged in by the afternoon, so we lapped sugary soft bumps on the lower runs down to Garbanzo. It was ripping fun.

Sunday was more traditional Spring, bluebird and a little warmer. We closed down the hill in style, with many runs off Harmony and the Peak chairs, as well a quick excursion to Symphony Bowl. The run down at 4pm was a hoot, fancy dress everywhere, and in one case, no dress at all above the (female) waist. That was a first for me 😉

Spring season started on Monday. It was more like Summer on Blackcomb, meaning early laps of 7th Heaven were the order of the day. As the hungover ex-Whistler employees rolled up by noon, we popped over the top and skied the Blackcomb Glacier. It was a little slow up high, but still a fine, spectacular ride. A shortened day meant we left before it got really hot. Hopefully Spring, and maybe even a tad of Winter, will return soon!


11900, 11600, 6800m vert

Season Totals: 58 days, 466, 600m vert, 23 powder days

Closing the Season at Whistler on Memorial Weekend

It’s mid-November 2015, we’re ensconced in Seattle, and despite the Godzilla El Nino, it’s snowing pretty hard in the Cascades. In fact, Whistler will open in 2 days 🙂 We might be skiing soon.

All this growing excitement reminded me that in the move West over summer I forgot to wrap up last season’s story. Mt Bachelor, our usual Memorial weekend gig, closed two weeks earlier. It was seriously bad year out West. Luckily, up high at Whistler was open and not horrible. It wasn’t great either, to be honest, with ribbons of slush that any East Coast micro ski hill would’ve been proud of on the run outs to Emerald and Franz’s chairs.

Whistler Whistler Whistler Whistler Whistler

It was a bit better off the Peak coverwise, but emerging rocks and glue by noon made it tough going. In fact, the slushathon off the Emerald chair was the best afternoon option, and I don’t think we made it past 3pm.

Ah well, it was skiing. At Whistler this is rarely grim with all the other options to entertain. And it certainly wasn’t busy. But I do hope it’s going to be better this year. I really do.

6,200m, 6100m, 5800m vert

Final Season totals: 59 days, 472,o00m vert, 12 powder days

More 2011-12 Ski Season Videos

This time covering Thanksgiving to New Year 2011. We started in a very snowy  Whistler, cruised through a sunny December in the Cascades, and finished in the very snowy climes of interior British Columbia between Xmas and New Year.

Closing Winter 2012, Opening Spring at Whistler Blackcomb

Closing weekend at Whistler is basically the place to be. This year, deep, top-to-bottom snow, cool but bright conditions, a festival to keep everyone partying and not riding, free demos all weekend  – it all adds up to the skiing equivalent of a Silvio Berlusconi Bunga Bunga party, for the whole family, of course. From the peak to the creek, Whistler and West Bowls, and some manicured mid-mountain groomers, there was amazing terrain and snow to rip from open until close. I even met my new Prior Husume skis – it was love on first run, so to speak, and perfect Whistler Bowl descents consummated the relationship.

We hung around for the first 3 days of Spring skiing at Blackcomb. Variable weather, including a mild Pineapple Express on Wednesday, meant you had to be ready for anything. In between some bursts of wild weather, we found some fine Spring conditions lurking in the mid-mountain trees and bumps, and even more surprisingly on the runs down to the village, which were Gortex-like with their rain resistant qualities. While it wasn’t the best Spring skiing ever, the compensation of Whistler Village, bargain top quality food deals (e.g $30 for 5 courses at Araxi – a total steal) and fun bars made it all rather bearable. Spring at Whistler is simply the best.

5 days – 10 200m, 10,000m 9100m, 10,400m, 5200m

Season Totals: 62 days, 519,700m vert, 28 powder days

The Usual – Thanksgiving 2011 at Whistler

Thanksgiving is all about tradition. For most folks around here, its excess Turkey and shopping. For us, it’s a condo in Blackcomb, 4 days skiing at Whistler-Blackcomb, and Sushi Village for Thanksgiving dinner. No turkey in sight.

7 of our 9 Thanksgivings in North America have been spent at Blackcomb. And the skiing has been fabulous every time. This year we were blessed with huge pre-season dumps, which continued all the way through the weekend. Opening day at Blackcomb was a powdery affair, followed by fabulous afternoon groomers on Whistler, which was as busy as a Herman Cain rally for appreciative female co-workers. Serious dumpage came down Thursday night, and early Friday morning we had several runs in deep Blackcomb mid-mountain fluff. Second tracks down Bark Sandwich made me very happy of myself!

More snow came down for another 5 inch powdery Saturday morning, By midday though unwelcome warm air, like hippies at hipster party, moved in and brought a sogginess to the proceedings. The first car of a fast Pineapple Express had rolled in, and for the next 24 hours the snow level oscillated around 1500-1800m. This made Sunday an interesting day. Sludgey snow first, rain low down, then serious fluffy deluges interleaved with flashes of sunshine. Highlight was first tracks down the Upper Dave Murray Downhill, starting at the Olympic course gate,  leaving perfect carved lines through 3 inches of vanilla ice cream. There’s a tradition I could start.

4 days: 5500, 9500, 8500, 5400

Season Totals: 6 days,  40,100 vert, 3 powder days

2011 Closing Weekend at Whistler

It seems almost criminal to close down a ski hill as good as Whistler with a 3.5m base. But that’s what happened on the last weekend of April of this epic La Nina season. While the Telus Festival attracted big crowds, drinking seemed a bigger attraction than the superb snow conditions. We skied long and hard, lapping Harmony and Symphony Bowls virtually all weekend, with occasional excursions to the Peak and even a top-to-bottom down a soft, bumpy and absolutely deserted  Peak-to-Creek. Crowds? They were in the GLC and Tommy Africa’s, leaving us the almost unheard of luxury of skiing straight on to every lift. Now that’s an indulgent skiing weekend of the highest order!

Saturday 11900m, Sunday  7400m vert

Season totals:

63 days, 22 powder days, 536,800m vertical