2002 Olympic Alternative: Whistler


February 5: Whistler, British Columbia
From the Fairmont Chateau Whistler

I awoke early on Tuesday morning, still a little tired after the 24-hour drive from Park City to Whistler, but eager to start the skiing part of this road trip. It had snowed all night and was still dumping when I boarded Blackcomb’s Wizard Express chair with journalist Rob Reed and snowboard model/television producer Lisa Podosin. Rob writes for Elite Traveler Magazine and is responsible for luring me to Whistler. With the help of Tourism Whistler, he promised a week of epic snow conditions, great food and jumping nightlife. What more could a desk jockey turned loose for three weeks ask for?

From the top of the Wizard Express it takes two lifts and a T-Bar to reach the summit of Blackcomb at 7,494 feet. On a clear day the high alpine areas provide wide open skiing and impressive views of the Garibaldi Provincial Park. Today the upper mountain was closed due to winds blowing over 100 kilometers per hour so we played in the trees where the snow was deep and sheltered. The trees off of the Excelerator Express Chair are perfectly spaced and moderately pitched so intermediate skiers will feel comfortable ducking off of the groomed runs. The Solar Coaster and Jersey Cream Express Chairs have steeper terrain that will challenge experts. We lapped these trees for three hours and never skied the same line twice.

Although we hadn’t exhausted all of the skiing possibilities at Blackcomb we decided to ski Whistler for the afternoon. It’s a four thousand vertical foot run from the top of Solar Coaster to the Whistler Village Gondola. The lower mountain can get a little crowded at the end of the day but at noon the Gear Jammer run was wide open and we made huge Giant Slalom turns until our legs burned.

The Whistler Village Gondola rises 3769 feet to the Roundhouse Lodge. On snowy days like these it provides a warm and comfortable ride protected from the wind and snow. The Olympic Station mid point makes it easy to do laps on the gondola and we skied powder in the trees and then jumped into the protected gondola for the ride up. While I am not a fair weather skier, I can certainly appreciate the chance to clear goggles and dry off a bit without having to take a real break.

While the weather wasn’t perfect, the first day of skiing on this road trip was excellent. I jumped into the hot tub at the end of the day feeling tired and satisfied. While I do work in the ski industry, I felt a million miles from the daily grind. Tomorrow I’ll feel even farther away as I am heading out for a day of powder with Whistler Helicopter Skiing. This will be my first time heli-skiing and I can’t wait to board the chopper.
To book a trip to Whistler, contact Tourism Whistler at 1-800-Whistler or online at www.tourismwhistler.com. They are experts in Whistler accommodations, transportation and activities. You can count on them to plan the trip of a lifetime.

The Fairmont Chateau Whistler is located at the base of Blackcomb. It’s a wonderfully short distance from the slopes to the hot tub and your legs will thank you for staying here. For more information visit the Fairmont Chateau Whistler Homepage.

Go To: February 6 – Heli-Skiing

— Guest Crontributor, Bryan Rhodes 

About Author

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Jason quickly developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 -- sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

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