Whistler

imageDecember 17th

Determined to hit the slopes as soon as the lifts opened, I was up before dawn. I went straight down to the hostel reception to get my lift ticket issue resolved, which took longer than it needed to and resulted in me being told to collect the ticket at the Whistler Blackcomb ticket office. I whizzed up to the kitchen to scoff some brekky, by this stage I well and truly missed the first bus. Then I zipped up to my room, grabbed my stuff, raced downstairs and was about to make a mad dash for the second bus when I realised I forgot my gloves. Doh! So then as I headed back to get my gloves I mentioned what happened to a lady in the hostel, and she kindly offered me a lift.

imageSo I got into Whistler, collected my ski gear from the rental location (I had sorted out the gear the day before and just had to collect it), I hiked all the way across whistler village with all my gear, grabbed my lift pass and jumped on the first available gondola up to Whistler…by which time I was knackered! (I think I walked a kilometre or more, in brand new ski boots – and if you have ever walked in ski boots you will have a bit of an idea how that felt)

Visibility on the mountain was fairly low, and the snow cover and quality was not amazing, especially for Whistler, but I still had a blast. I tried out several different runs, covering a variety some green and blue runs (easy and intermediate) and even an accidental black run, which resulted in a head plant into the snow. My poor little legs struggled hard with the muscle burn of such long runs and my feet were struggling to adjust to the new boots and foreign rental skis, so by 2pm I was completely exhausted and made my way back down the mountain.

It was a very tiring but good day on the snow!

December 18th

imageAfter having had a great deal of trouble sleeping since arriving in Canada, I had a fairly solid nights sleep – it was amazing! But of course, to make the most of the snow I was up at crazy o’clock again (before the sun came up…though that’s not hard, I think the sun doesn’t come up till around 9am and it sets a bit before 4), I had my brekky, grabbed my gear and jumped on the bus into town. I decided that I had had some problems with the skis of the previous day, so when I went to collect my skis I asked to switch for a different pair..unfortunately this wasted a good half an hour or more of my morning!

Soon enough I was riding up the gondola to Blackcomb. Blackcomb and Whistler are two neighbouring mountains separated by a valley – there is a peak to peak gondola to allow people to move from mountain to mountain, but with the low visibility, I had not yet done this.

Up Blackcomb I tightened my boots and took off down the mountain, the skis were performing much better than the previous day and I had fresh legs, so I was carving up the slopes! I’m not sure if it was the weather, the amount of sleep I had had, the skis, or genuinely the mountain itself, but I had loads more on Blackcomb than on Whistler. I was really tearing up the mountain and having a blast! At one point, as I was riding a chairlift up the mountain, I saw a squirrel quickly check for ‘traffic’ before making a mad dash across the slope, it was pretty funny to see.

When I stopped for morning tea, it started snowing, big fluffy white flakes, which was just gorgeous! A short while later the sun peeks out from behind the cloud, and some blue sky was visible, then while I had my lunch I was able to see across the valley to Whistler, I could see Whistler village and other neighbouring snow capped peaks. It was an amazing view!

Soon enough though, I began to ski quite sloppy and this was the big indicator at it was time to stop for the day, so I headed down the mountain. I skied all the way down, including skiing over a bridge that went over the highway (I found this most amusing!). Enjoying the run down the mountain I mistakenly took a wrong turn and went to Blackcomb village instead of Whistler village. The strange thing with the two mountains is that their main access lifts go from the same spot in Whistler village, so I had assumed, going down the mountain that it didn’t matter if I followed the route to Whistler or to Blackcomb, because they were basically the same thing. As it turns out, it’s not. So then I had to ride a lift part way back up the mountain and ski down again..oops!

imageFinally down the mountain, I returned my skis for the night then stopped for a bite to eat. I ordered a beavertail and oh my was it TASTY! Please don’t be horrified, a beavertail is actually not a part of a beaver. It’s a deep fried pastry in the shape (and possibly the size) of a beaver tail and the topping is a healthy dose of cinnamon and sugar. Yummo!

I spent the remainder of the afternoon and evening chatting to some people in the hostel…guess what nationality they were??? You guessed it, Aussies! At this point I genuinely do believe there are more Aussies than Canadians here!

December 19th

I took the day off to give my legs a breaks, and see some other things that Whistler has to offer. I started off with a lazy coffee, before catching the bus into the village for my Zipline tour. We had a group of about 7 people, plus two lovely guides, Nick and Rob. We started by catching the gondola up Whistler, then we strapped on our snowshoes to hike into the valley between Whistler and Blackcomb. We then let ourselves get hooked into zip lines that allowed us to whizz back and forth between the two mountains. Some of the zip lines were really long, others really fast, and some perfect for behaving like a looney, dangling upside down while whizzing through the trees at up to 80km/h (unfortunately I don’t weight enough to get such high speeds). It was an absolute blast!

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On the tour I met a nice couple, and the three of us capped off the tour by heading out to a Mexican restaurant for lunch which was lovely. After lunch I caught up with a girl, Ellysha, from the hostel and we headed to the Scandinavian Spa to bliss out for a couple of hours. The spa is set back in the forest on the mountainside. It has several tiers of outdoor hot pools, outdoor cold pools, solariums, saunas, steam rooms and an outdoor fireplace. The idea is to spend 20 minutes roasting in one of the hot things (the eucalyptus steam room was my favourite), then take a 10 second plunge in a cold thing, before ‘relaxing’ and bringing the body back to normal temperature, this is where you would doze in the solarium. By this time the sun had set, so the paths between each of the elements of the space were lit up with fairly lights and the pools glowed blue. It was absolutely amazing! What made it even more magical, was to sit in the 40 degree hot pool outside and watch the snow flakes fall around you.

imageEventually we left the spa, in a very chilled out mood, and headed into the village to catch up with another girl from the hostel, Ayesha. The three of us went to Fat Tony’s for pizza (I suggested we grab two large pizzas to share, until if saw the size if a large…16inches of pizza! Crazy! So we shared one large and couldn’t finish it between the three of us!) and beer before going ice skating. With the snow falling all evening, the village was covered in a fine layer of white fluff and it was just such a fantastic atmosphere. Everyone is in a great mood when snow is falling. We had so much fun skating around in the snow and prancing around like snow fairies. It was a fabulous evening of frivolity!

December 20th

imageBy the morning there was 8cm of fresh powder on the mountain and it was still snowing! As you can imagine, the early buses were packed as everyone wanted to make first tracks down the mountain. I wasn’t quite early enough for first tracks, but I was on the mountain pretty early. I headed to Whistler for the day. The snow was still falling and visibility was pretty low, but the snow was all soft and fluffy, it just meant working a bit harder on technique rather than just barreling down the mountain.

With all the snow and lower temperatures it wasn’t long before my fingers, toes and nose were numb to the point of pain. So I headed indoors for a hot chocolate and a snack. Once I had defrosted, I caught up with a guy from the hostel, Michael, and we skied a few runs together. At my request he took me down some harder runs (black diamond runs), we hit up the Whistler Bowl, Doom and Gloom and the Glacier Bowl. We even went off piste, we tackled some pretty challenging slopes, it certainly pushed a bit beyond my skill level and I was ell out of my comfort zone for some of it, but it was a great challenge and I had a blast. By going a bit further out I was even able to ski some fresh tracks in the powder!

After two hours of solid, super gung-ho hardcore skiing, I did a couple of easy runs and called it a day.

December 21st

I hit the slopes of Blackcomb for yet another fabulous snow day. The lower runs were in the cloud cover, but the higher runs were above the clouds, with clear skies and the most stunning views! I spent most of my day enjoying some runs on the side of Blackcomb glacier, my favourite run was Glacier Drive through to Blue Line. It was nice and steep but without too many bumps, the snow was quite soft and you had a great view the whole way down. The only problem was that I had to remember to pay attention to the slope and not the view or I could have accidentally skied off a cliff!!

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Around 1pm I was getting pretty sore, so I took the opportunity to have a short break and catch the peak to peak gondola across from the top of Blackcomb to the top of Whistler. There were about 15 people in the gondola, so I didn’t get as good a view out the window as I would have liked, but what I could see was just amazing! On such a clear day the views are just stunning. While I may not have been able to see down to the village, looking down on a cloud bank and seeing snow capped peaks twinkling in the sunlight on the other side of the valley is pretty spectacular!

imageBy 2:30 I was struggling to stand up, since I worked my legs so hard on so many ripper ski runs, so I did a run all the way down the mountain, did a teeny bit of shopping then headed back to the hostel to pack up all my gear ready to check out in the morning and relax a little before having an early night.

December 22nd

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My last day at Whistler I decided to ski Blackcomb mountain again. I was on the slopes within 10 minutes of the tows opening. I started off taking it pretty easy, before hitting it a bit harder. But as always, by 11am I was numb to the point of pain in my fingers and toes, so I spent an hour defrosting in one of the cafe’s while enjoying Belgian waffles and hot chocolate.

With the residual muscle exhaustion and general tiredness of so many days if skiing, I didn’t ski super hard, but I enjoyed myself immensely. Before I knew it though, it was time to pack up and head back to Vancouver. So with a quick late lunch I headed back to the hostel to pack my bags and was ready for my evening ‘Snowbus’ ride back to the big smoke.

Whistler was loads of fun, and I made a few friends along the way. I’m going to miss hanging out with Adele, Ellysha and Ayesha, but hopefully our paths will cross again in future travels.

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