Did you know? If you skied about 12 runs per day at Whistler Blackcomb and skied a new run every lift ride you could ski 16 days straight without skiing the same trail twice? A five-day Whistler Blackcomb ski vacation only touches the tip of the resort’s 8,171-acre iceberg, laundry list of activities and attractions, and buzzing dining and nightlife scene, which is why skiers return year-after-year and discover a new slice of British Columbia heaven every time.
With the help of Mountain Travel Expert Kay Petrie we compiled an itinerary to help visitors capitalize on experiencing the best of Whistler’s massive terrain as well as some top attractions within the span of a five-day ski vacation.
Mountain Travel Expert Since 2001
Day 1: Get the lay of the land
Flying into Vancouver International Airport is convenient and quick, and the drive to Whistler via the Sea-to-Sky highway only takes about two hours so it’s entirely possible for skiers to get a half day on the slopes on arrival day. No matter when your first day on the mountain falls, it’s important to get a good lay of the land and identify where you want to ski. Whether you’re staying at the base of Whistler, Blackcomb or in the Creekside area, a great place to get your bearings is at one of the PEAK 2 PEAK stations, which are located on both Whistler and Blackcomb Mountians and house the world’s longest unsupported lift span.
“Blackcomb Lodge, located in the heart Whistler Village, is a great place to stay to be close to everything. It’s a short five-minute walk from Whistler Village Gondola, the Blackcomb Mountain chairlifts and in the middle of the village’s dining, shopping and nightlife,” says Kay. “This reasonably priced property has an indoor swimming pool, hot tub, steam room, sauna and onsite restaurant/bar.”
Use the ride up to scope out terrain that looks up your alley. The PEAK 2 PEAK stations are located just around treeline and provide unadulterated views of the upper-mountain terrain. Be sure to consult the many trail maps for specifics on terrain ratings. If you’re ready test your mettle on Whistler Mountain’s famed bowls, Little Whistler Peak, accessed via Harmony 6 Express, is a great place to start. This area provides easy access to a fall-line, powder-filled bowl or to an intermediate ridgeline run that provides options to drop into steep and deep chutes or continue down for a gentle cruiser. On Blackcomb Mountain a great warm-up for the more adventurous-minded is a run off the 7th Heaven Express. Here, you have your pick of spacious, high-alpine groomers and the option to challenge yourself off the bat in a couloir.
“One of the coolest aspects about Whistler Blackcomb’s terrain is that there are tons of green and blue runs from the upper reaches of the resort, so everyone can enjoy the high-alpine views and experiences,” says Kay.
Day 2: Morning powder skiing on Whistler and afternoon thrills with Ziptrek Ecotours
People flock to British Columbia to ski powder, and whether the snowflakes are piling up or it hasn’t snowed in several days, there are plenty of freshies to be found on Whistler Blackcomb. Head up Whistler Village Gondola and from the top take a left down black diamond Ratkin where you’ll have a choice between two powder stashes: Chunky’s Choice and Dapper’s Delight. To head to the next powder stash, hop back on the Whistler Village Gondola from the mid-way Olympic Station or you can take the Garbanzo Express. From the top you’ll want to head down Whiskey Jack’s until you come across Seppos, a black diamond run book-ended by incredible steep and deep glades. Pop off into the trees to sample the goods. If you can’t get enough of the soft stuff, head back up Garbanzo Express and pick your way down to In Deep, here you’ll find tons of powdery tree runs.
Once you’ve had your fill of powder, it’s time for your next heart-pumping experience. Head back to the Olympic Station and get ready for a thrilling ride with Ziptrek EcoTours. The tour features five different ziplines, including a new 2,400-foot zipline with a 30-story drop. Harnessed-in riders soar like eagles over the Fitzsimmons Valley between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains.
“The zipline that launches from Olympic Station provides spectacular, panoramic views of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains as you cross through old growth rain forests,” says Kay.
Day 3: Tackle Whistler Blackcomb’s Steeps with Extremely Canadian clinics
At this point in your trip you’ve probably scoped out some ski movie-quality lines, especially just off the summits of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountain. Spend a day with Extremely Canadian steep skiing instructors and you’ll be skiing those lines with the confidence of a pro. Extremely Canadian helps you conquer terrain that you maybe once thought was above your head by breaking down the physical mechanics of skiing on steep terrain while preparing you for the terrain ahead.
Blackcomb Mountain is particularly renowned among local pro-skiers as the place to go for steeps. Ruby Bowl, which requires a short hike up Spanky’s Ladder from the Glacier Express lift, is located on the backside of Blackcomb Mountain. To get the most vertical and steepest descent on Ruby Bowl you’ll want to take the high traverse on the left. Enjoy the pull of gravity as you zoom down the wide-open bowl. For some more technical steeps head to Couloir Extreme, located just below the 7th Heaven Express, and remember what you learned from the Extremely Canadian instructors!
“Celebrate your terrain conquests with a pint of Guiness and dancing at the Dubh Linn Gate Irish pub”, says Kay. “Or if you’re in the mood for something a little more swanky head to Bearfoot Bistro’s Belvedere vodka ice bar and bring a warm parka.”
Day 4: Breakfast snowmobile tour and an afternoon skiing the Olympic Gold Medal Route
Rest your ski legs with a morning snowmobile tour and recharge with a hearty breakfast. Meet Canadian Wilderness Adventures guides at 8 a.m. and ascend up Sproat Mountain on your own snowmobile. Half way through this four-hour tour you’ll stop for a skillet-style breakfast feast at a charming mountain cabin. Then you’ll have the opportunity to test your snowmobile’s “legs” as you rip around on a frozen, high-alpine lake.
With 8,171 acres to explore it’s hard to take a day off on a Whistler Blackcomb ski vacation. Instead, enjoy a relaxing half-day afternoon on the slopes and make it your goal to check off the terrain and on-mountain attractions you haven’t yet experienced from your “to do” list. If you haven’t taken a ride in the record-breaking PEAK 2 PEAK gondola, make that happen. The views from the world’s longest unsupported lift span of the surrounding Girabaldi Mountains above and Fitzsimmons Creek below are truly breathtaking.
Depending on which mountain you get off on, pick your way around and experience some of the terrain you haven’t yet enjoyed. If you end up on Blackcomb Mountain, make sure you take a couple laps on the Crystal Ridge Express. The area features incredible cruisers and fewer crowds. If you find yourself on Whistler Mountain, the Gold Medal Route is a great choice. The route features the runs on which 2010 Olympic alpine races were held, including the thrilling Men’s and Women’s Downhill courses. You can even ski by the Olympic Rings.
“The Gold Medal Route ends right outside Dusty’s Bar & BBQ in the Creekside base village, a great place to grab Western grub and a cold brew,” says Kay.
Day 5: Fresh Tracks Breakfast and afternoon Nintendo Terrain Park session
It’s your last day at Whistler Blackcomb. Remember, the early bird gets the best snow—and breakfast—so take advantage of Whistler Blackcomb’s Fresh Tracks Mountain Top Breakfast. Load the Whistler Village Gondola between 7:15 a.m. and 8 a.m. At the Roundhouse Lodge you’ll enjoy an incredible buffet spread. Ski Patrol will announce when the runs are open, and you’ll have your pick of untracked, fresh corduroy or powder, depending on your preference. Make sure you sign up for the experience ahead of time, spots are limited to 650 people and the program sells out on powder days. One of our Mountain Travel Experts, like Kay, can take care of booking your spot.
In the afternoon head to one or all of Whistler’s six Nintendo Terrain Parks. Collectively these state-of-the-art parks offer 150-plus features, 40-plus jumps, one snowcross course and one superpipe. The parks are progressively designed small, or beginner, through extra-large, or expert, so no matter what your level you can enjoy some air time, even just a little.
“End the day and celebrate a ski vacation well had at the ultimate Whistler Blackcomb apres-ski hotspot, Garibaldi Lift Co. The bar is above the Whistler Gondola building and overlooks the slopes and offers the village’s best live music,” says Kay.
If exploring North America’s largest ski resort is the kind of ski vacation you’re looking to experience this season, enter our contest this month to win a trip to Whistler Blackcomb. If you don’t want to leave it to chance start planning your Whistler Blackcomb ski vacation now! Kay, or any of our other Mountain Travel Experts, can help you customize and book your flights, rental cars, lodging and more on your Whistler Blackcomb ski vacation. Call or click to chat with one of them now! You can also customize and book your vacation using our online booking services.
Director of SEO + Content
Originally from the icy trails of New Jersey, I moved West to pursue powder and a career in writing and editing. Now living in Aspen, Colo. and working for Ski.com as Director of SEO + Content, I've been able to combine a litany of skills, passions and interests. You'll find me skiing at Aspen Mountain or Aspen Highlands in the winter and mountain biking at Snowmass in the summer.