Powder Perspective

BLACKCOMB: Many professional skiers have the Glacier Chair to thank for their success. It is the gatekeeper to breeding grounds like the Spanky’s Ladder entrance into Blackcomb’s back bowls: Ruby, Diamond, and Sapphire. It runs right above The Bite, known as one of the most grueling qualifiers for freeskiing contests (it’s usually a mega bump field). Quintessential to any epic day skiing Blackcomb, the Glacier Lodge sits at the bottom of the Glacier Chair. Here, one can quickly run up the stairs, grab a slice of pizza and lemon bread, and eat on the chairlift so as not to lose a crucial lap in the day. The lodge is also a nice reprieve if the weather is harsh, which it can be (and we love it, because storm skiing is Blackcomb’s middle name). Rest assured, however, those crazy Aussie lifties at the chair will be out in any squall, greeting you with a hearty smile and, “What gale-force winds are you talking about, mate?” -LAURA OGDEN

WHISTLER: One should consider not only the experience skiing down from a lift, but the entire journey when riding a chairlift. Take the five and a half-minute ride on the Peak Express, which affords the best views towards the Black Tusk and Tantalus Range. But the whole purpose of the ride up is the shred down. Particularly in the early season, the Peak chair has some of the best snow on Whistler. You can ski nonstop back to the lift down the front of Whistler Bowl, or explore out a bit to West Bowl or Bagel Bowl for endless options of steep, rocky exposure and playful tree and pillow lines. These are nice as longer laps, taking you to the Big Red Chair. If there even is a lift line, it’s most likely a powder day, in which case take a front row seat and watch the locals as they launch off double-benders, like Air Jordan just above the base of the lift. If it takes ski patrol some time to control the Peak chair’s terrain, keep an eye on that magic little green light that says “open.” You will want to partake in the frenzy of the Peak chair experience. -LAURA OGDEN

Resort Overview

Side by side, Whistler and Blackcomb mountains represent over 8,000 acres of skiable terrain, making Whistler Blackcomb the largest ski area in North America. The world-record-breaking PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola now connects the incredible high alpine of both mountains traveling 2.7 miles in just 11 minutes. Add a pedestrian village-conveniently located at the base of both mountains, with legendary nightlife-and you can see why Whistler Blackcomb is consistently rated North America’s No. 1 mountain resort.

Terrain Breakdown

Whistler Blackcomb has something for everyone with 16 alpine bowls, three glaciers and 200-plus marked trails. With 8,171 acres of terrain (20-percent beginner, 55-percent intermediate and 25-percent advanced), Whistler Blackcomb offers more run options than anywhere else in North America. And there are 38 lifts to help access it. Fast.

Season Highlights

  • 12/1/11-12/4/11: Whistler Film Festival
  • 1/7/12-1/15/12: Arc’Teryx Deep Winter Photo Challenge
  • 2/2/12-2/3/12: Appleton Rum Peak to Valley Race
  • 4/6/12-4/8/12: Whistler Cup – International FIS Juvenile Ski Races
  • 4/13/12-4/22/12: TELUS World Ski & Snowboard Festival

Resort Specs

Annual Snowfall: 410 inches
Vertical Drop: 5,280 feet
Skiable Acres: 8,171
Number of Lifts: 37
Number of Trails: 200 plus
Number of Parks/Pipes: 5 Parks / 2 Pipes (22′ and 15′)
Backcountry Access: Open Gate Policy
Ticket Prices: Visit whistlerblackcomb.com
Nearest Airport: Vancouver, British Columbia
Local Bars: Garibaldi Lift Company (GLC), Dusty’s Bar & BBQ, and Merlin’s
Local Restaurants: Steeps Grill, Christine’s Restaurant
Hotels / Lodging: Whistler offers 115 hotels with more than 5,200 rooms