This past weekend I was in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada to watch the end of the World Ski and Snowboard Festival and enjoy the sunny weather they had. Whistler is a ski resort town about 1 hour and 30 minutes north of Vancouver.The view on the way up is worth the trip itself. To get there, take highway 99 north (or the Sea to Sky highway as it’s known as) from Vancouver. Once you get past Vancouver, you’ll be greeted with stunning views of the mountains, islands, Howe Sound, and the Pacific Ocean.
As you start to get closer to Whistler, you will see many snow-capped mountains. It’s called the Sea to Sky highway since it starts at sea level by the Pacific Ocean and goes all the way to the sky to Whistler (and beyond).There are also many lakes around Whistler that freeze over in the winter, but are used for swimming in the summer.
Whistler got its name when it was officially discovered in the 1860s, and the hoary marmot was prevalent in the area. It makes a high-pitched, “whistling” sound to communicate with others. Whistler was originally just a small trail used for driving cattle from valley to valley. Prospectors and trappers began to come to the area for work, and small towns started becoming established. In 1914, the Great Pacific Railway was completed, bringing hundreds of people from the south to start building lives in the small towns along the railway.
In the 1960s, bidding began for Whistler to host the 1968 Winter Olympics. Although the bid ended up being withdrawn, the resort was still built. Whistler was officially open for skiing in 1966; Blackcomb didn’t follow until 1980. It wasn’t until 1997 that the two resorts merged. In 2010, Whistler hosted the Winter Olympics for the first time.
This view is from one of the restaurants on top of Whistler. Both mountains have a variety of casual, cafeteria style food good for families having a quick lunch in between a ski break. They also have a bar and a fine dining restaurant for those who prefer a longer meal with a beautiful view.
The top of Whistler for the more advanced (and adventurous) skiers.
Whistler is actually one of two mountains at the resort. Blackcomb is the other, which can be accessed by staying at the bottom of that village, or by the Peak 2 Peak gondolas. You can buy a lift ticket in the village for just the Peak 2 Peak if you’re not skiing. You’ll take a regular gondola up the mountain, and get off to cross over to the Peak 2 Peak gondola. The ride is 11 minutes long, and some gondolas even have a glass-bottom so you can see all around and below you.The Peak 2 Peak is the world’s longest unsupportive (1.8 miles) and highest (1430 feet) gondola. It was dreamed up when the director of operations visited Matterhorn Mountain in Zermott, Switzerland and got the idea. It is relatively new, as it wasn’t completed until 2008.
(Picture from www.skiworld.co.uk)
This April was a particularly warm month, and you had to go up much farther than normal to see any snow. I wanted to show this picture of how convenient Whistler normally is, in that you can literally “ski in” from the mountain to the town and have from your choice of many restaurants for lunch or apres-ski.
Stayed tuned for my next post on what activities other than skiing are available in Whistler!
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