Passing Through: Whistler Blackcomb

Even after 50 years, Whistler Blackcomb reigns supreme

Skier: Matty Richard | PHOTO: Andrew Bradley

Whistler Blackcomb has gained a reputation over the last five decades (they turn 50 this winter) of turning things up to 11. This huge ski resort (8,171 acres) does have a surprisingly mellow, quiet side to it if you know where to look—except no one seems to be looking for it. This is, after all, Whistler, mate. Suck it up. You can sleep later. Give’r, eh.

From legitimately raucous parties to rowdy Coast Range lines, Whistler Blackcomb delivers non-stop action from the moment you roll into town until your friends drag you out of the hotel room two hours after check-out time. The mountain generally provides with a consistent but consolidated snowpack and 28 lifts spread over two mountains. The village keeps even the most annoying foodie satisfied with some 90 restaurants, bars, and pubs, from dirty burrito joints to top-shelf cuisine to late-night post EDM madness pizza joints. Deep snow, Aussies, nightclubs, hangovers and more deep snow: everything you’ve heard is true. But what often gets lost in the messaging is what built this monstrous resort in the first place: the skiing.

Make no mistake about it, Whistler is still all about skiing. With over 5,000 vertical feet of some of the most varied terrain on the planet, WB also has the lifts to get you there, the resources to keep it safe, and a schwack of perfectly manicured parks and pipes for those who need some lip service in between powder runs.

Popular locals’ opinion is that there’s “more snow on Blackcomb Mountain,” not to mention better fall lines and the always tempting treasure chest that is Spanky’s Ladder. Of course, Whistler Mountain offers numerous lifts that take you straight to the alpine. Nowhere else in North America does alpine terrain like Whistler. It’s truth.

When it comes to chairlifts, none is more iconic than Whistler’s Peak Chair, but also notable is the new Crystal Zone chair, a high-speed quad initially met with skepticism by locals who preferred the old-school double decommissioned in 2103. Most have come around to the fact that speed and access have since improved. Some never will.

For most, post-powder cocktails are most likely taken down at the GLC, Merlin’s, or Dusty’s, in that order, but the options are as deep as the snow. A b-side alternative is the tiny, personable Blackcomb Pub. Hit up Tapley’s for a taste of Whistler’s rarely seen blue collar, Brandy’s for a dark room that goes later than anywhere else above ground, and The Fire Rock for fancy drinks and a mellow upscale vibe. New for 2015 is a no-smoking policy that covers the entire ski resort, and yes, that includes all kind of smoking.

Despite being around for over 25 years, Sushi Village still reigns king for food, party, and party food. You simply need to go, even if you hate sushi. The new Pizzeria Antico produces a proper Italian pie. The Mexican Corner makes solid south of the border fare…a rarity in north of the border ski towns. Beyond these, the range of options is as massive as the mountains above. Ask locals. Go deep. Crawl the village stroll. Eat well.

There are few places to stay in Whistler with personality beyond the standard hotel fare so quit waffling about where you’ll sleep. Round up your most fun friends—there’s no room for Debbie Downers in Whistler—book a place within your budget, and go see for yourself why no one will shut up about Whistler…even after 50 years.