Whistler

British Columbia, Canada

Whistler is spectacular in many ways. Whether it’s the two gigantic mountains delivering more than 8000ac (3237ha) of skiing, the jaw-dropping scenery, a village life that puts most major cities to shame or terrain that is steep enough to give even the most extreme skiers an adrenaline rush, you will never be short of being amazed at Whistler. Long the favorite of skiers everywhere, Whistler became even more famous when it hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics and showed itself off to the world. Whether you’re a family of beginners or training to be an instructor, anyone will have a blast at Whistler. 

Scout Loves

  • Some of the longest ski runs on the planet.
  • Two mountains to choose from, joined at the foot by the village and at the head by the Peak 2 Peak Gondola.
  • The pedestrian-friendly village that can do some real damage to your credit card thanks to its shops (shops and more shops), hundreds of restaurants and countless bars.
  • Dustys in Creekside is an apres institution.
  • Scandinave Spa Its collection of hot tubs, steam and sauna rooms plus icy plunge pools and relaxation rooms will rejuvenate any tired ski body. Allow several hours.
  • Become an instructor or just push your boundaries with a week or two on a YES Improvement course.
  • In 2013/14 the new Crystal Ridge Express gives faster access to some favorite terrain.

Scout Tips

  • Weather and snow conditions can be variable. Rain at the base of the mountain is not uncommon, but that can also mean it's snowing up top.
  • Weekend crowds can be terrible, stay and ski mid-week to avoid long lift lines.
  • Bars are ridiculously busy on Australia Day (January 26). Given half the working population of Whistler seems to come from the Great Southern Land, every bar is heaving with merry Aussies.
  • Whistler is one of the new additions to the Mountain Collective. Owners of this pass can ski two days for free and every additional day is 50% off.
  • Whistler Blackcomb is big. You will need at least a week to ski it all.

Scout Review

Simply, Whistler Blackcomb is huge. Each mountain is big enough on its own to outdo the size of most other North American resorts. But put together, nothing comes close. Once upon a time, it was a resort of two separate ski mountains. In the morning you would decide which you were going to ski and then stick to it. But when the awe-inspiring Peak 2 Peak Gondola joined them at the top, the mountains became one huge resort as it was now easy to ski both in the one-day. Whistler is so big that if you look at the terrain statistics as size, not a percentage, even just the advanced skiing area alone - a whopping 2206ac (893ha) - would be bigger than many world-class resorts. On all this terrain, the ski runs are well designed and the lifts efficient, meaning you spend less time traversing and more time skiing.

In keeping with the size trend, Whistler also has impressive amounts of powder snow. Sure, the lower elevations mean it’s not the same light, dry powder found in some other resorts, but at 462in (11.7m) a year, there’s still plenty of it. Just keep your fingers crossed the temperatures stay cold enough to keep the rain away.

Added to all of this is some of the most beautiful scenery – Whistler is surrounded by glaciers, valleys, forests and soaring mountains in every direction you look.

If the skiing isn’t enough to exhaust you, then Whistler’s famous party scene will. After-dark funsters let rip at the many and excellent restaurants, bars and nightclubs. We’re not sure where they get the energy, but the parties go late and they go hard.

It’s enough to make you exhausted just thinking about it.

Whistler Accommodation

Given the capacity for overnight guests tops 30,000, there is an enormous amount of accommodation to choose from and the quality, style and price are varied. Most hotels are based in three main areas; Whistler Village, Blackcomb Village and Mountain, or at Whistler Creekside. Compared to many big resorts in the US, Whistler represents great value. Don’t count out Creekside because of its location – it has some great amenities, is quieter and has direct access to Whistler Mountain.

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Resort Activities

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So many extra activities are offered in Whistler beyond skiing, you could fill a week just doing those and still have things left over. Scout’s favorites are a visit to Scandinave Spa, heli-skiing, the Fire & Ice show (every Sunday at 6.30pm at the Whistler Village base), Fresh Tracks ($20 buys you a huge breakfast and first access to Whistler Mountain) and bobsled rides on the Olympic track. For kids, the adventure playland areas of Magic Castle on Blackcomb and Tree Fort on Whistler are a fun change from the slopes.

Getting There and Around

Getting to Whistler is really easy. The best way is to fly to Vancouver International Airport and then transfer (about 2 hours’ drive) to the resort - due to the layout of the mountain, the pedestrian-focused village and the area’s sufficient public bus system you will never need a car.

Several shuttle services run frequent buses and private transfers from the airport and downtown Vancouver during winter. A one-way ticket on a bus is about $70 (from the airport) while private transfers cost about $325. If you’re in a real hurry to get to the slopes you can also catch a helicopter.

Getting around Whistler is simple. While Whistler Village is a big area it doesn’t take long to walk from one end to the other. It takes about five minutes to walk to Blackcomb Village from the top of Whistler Village. To connect to areas such as Whistler Creekside there’s an efficient public bus system (rides cost $2.50 each way – have the correct change) and plenty of taxis.

When To Go

Whistler Blackcomb opens towards the end of November and Whistler mountain closes towards the end of April while Blackcomb mountain stays open longer, until mid-May.

December and January can be bitingly cold. February has, on average, less snow than other months, so you have more chance of fine days but less chance of powder.

Facts & Figures

Mountain Information   Lifts   Terrain    
Base Elevation 2140ft / 653m Gondolas 4 Whistler    
Summit Elevation 7494ft / 2284m Express Six Seater 1 Beginner 20%  
Vertical Drop (Blackcomb Mt) 5280ft / 1609m Express Quads 13 Intermediates 55%  
Skiable Area 8171ac / 3307ha Triple Chairs 4 Advanced 25%  
Annual Snowfall 462in / 11.74m Surface Lifts 15 Blackcomb    
Longest Run 7 miles / 11km     Beginner 15%  
Snowmaking 665ac / 269ha Lift Capacity per hour 67,307 people Intermediates 55%  
Operating Hours (Opening- Jan 25) 8.30am –3.00pm     Advanced 33%  
Operating Hours (Jan 26 - Feb 22) 8.30am –3.30pm          
Operating Hours (Feb 23 - Closing) 8.30am –4.00pm          
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