Whistler Skiing: Skiing Equipment Reviewed

Throughout the rim of the Pacific Ocean, craggy mountain peaks reach for the sky and cast long shadows against the valleys below, drawing adventurers, mountain climbers, and above all, skiers and snowboarders. Nestled against the open arms of the Pacific Ocean in southern British Colombia, Canada, Whistler skiing offers the best of mountain culture, Alpine beauty and the thrilling sense of wonder accompanied by any foray into the wild vestiges of land that does its best to make itself inhospitable to mankind.

What Is Whistler Skiing?


So, what is Whistler skiing? Whistler Blackcomb offers everything a winter sports enthusiast might be looking for. With 26 lifts servicing 240 trails, the mountain expanse of Whistler Blackcomb provides a wide array of riding terrain for shredders of all skill levels. The legendary terrain parks were constructed for the 2010 Winter Olympics and are still open to the public. Also, the Peak 2 Peak gondola, which transcends a breathtaking gap between two mountains, makes getting around through the vast mountain resort easier than it's ever been.

With backcountry lift access, the glaciated peaks of the mountains are available for your shredding pleasure and for the truly talented individuals, the peaks offer backsides that can be the doorways into entirely different skiing terrain and environments. The open, tree-less glaciers stand in stark contrast to the heavily, densely populated woods that are also available for shredding if you can dodge the spruce boughs trying to steal your hat!

Not only does Whistler skiing offer the best in on-mountain activities and adventures, but the many resort hotels close by make a Whistler skiing vacation a blast for the whole family. You can stay at the Weston Resort and Spa or the Fairmont Chateau, and be dazzled by the visual spectacle of the modern, yet traditionally inspired ski lodges that house restaurants and spas. The town also offers many attractions, including fine eateries and sightseeing adventures.

Product Specs

Whistler skiing offers a large number of amenities for anyone trying to get onto the mountain this year. Not only does the mountain run special deals on lodging and travel, but the mountain experience in itself is enough to get any winter adventurer coming back for more. As mentioned earlier, the ski area encompasses two peaks, Whistler and Blackcomb, towering at 2,182 feet and 2,440 feet, respectively. A lift—the Peak 2 Peak gondola—runs back and forth between them. Other than that, they also have 25 lifts providing access to the park's 240 trails and the mountains beyond. Within the boundaries of the ski area, the reckless and the willing can find intense side country, riveting terrain and tree skiing to rival any other venue in North America, and even the world.

The ski resort offers the best any mountain resort can offer, but if you get adventurous and stray beyond the boundaries of the demarcated area, Whistler skiing becomes an entirely different experience. You will find yourself in the midst of a pristine wilderness, all but untouched by mankind's advance. With a lift-access backcountry and guided tours available for those who can demonstrate their prowess in the backcountry, Whistler Blackcomb opens up an entirely new world for the exploration of those who have the mettle.

Of course, access to the backcountry lift comes complete with a safety waiver, and is only available when the ski patrol allows it, so you know if you stray beyond the boundaries, you are on your own. This is typically true of all ski resorts and patrons who choose to stray beyond boundary lines should be wary of avalanche conditions, how to spot the dangers of avalanche occurrence, and be prepared with a partner and the proper tools for finding and freeing up your buddy when they're buried.

When it's time to chill out (or warm up), the mountain offers a variety of on-mountain dining experiences. For those who enjoy a nice lunch, stop in at Fresh Tracks and grab a bite or head over to Steep's or Christine's. All three have a great menu selection and are staffed by expert chefs and cooks who work hard to bring you a fine dining experience in the inhospitable cold of the Pacific Northwest. No matter what your preferred fare, at Whistler Blackcomb there is a restaurant with your favorite dishes ready to be whipped up just for you.

Pricing

For what it offers, Whistler skiing is worth the money. Lift tickets are less expensive than at other resorts, and with all that natural Pacific Northwest snowfall, you're practically guaranteed a great day of shredding on the mountain.

How It Compares

We picked a few similar experiences available on the market to see how they compare.

  • Off-piste skiing
  • Alpine skiing
  • Nordic skiing

Whistler Skiing


skiers at whistler skiing

Ski and Snowboard Guide
Ski & Snowboard Guide to Whistler Blackcomb: Intermediate Edition
  • Quickdraw Publications
  • Choose between either the Expert or Intermediate books to get information suitable to your skiing style and level
  • Get information on runs occupying the over 8000 acres of terrain so that you already know where to go when it's...

PRICE

With beginner's backcountry guided tours starting at $$, it is not hard to imagine why so many people love Whistler skiing. Private tours get a little more pricey, but you have the full attention to the professional guide staff.

EASE of use

Whistler is full of trail maps and the high-tech lifts make it easy for children to on and offload. Plus, the lift-access backcountry gives experienced riders and skier easy access to some of the most stunningly beautiful backcountry in North America

PERFORMANCE

All of the features at Whistler Blackcomb are new and safe. The terrain parks were recently constructed for use in the 2010 Olympics and, therefore, are extremely gnarly and offer a world class experience shared by some of the best winter sports athletes in the world. Though many of the more rugged features offered by Whistler skiing are weather dependent, there is a bunch to do for all types of people even during inclement weather.

durability

This trail guide is light, durable, and will not fall apart in your wet pockets after a day of skiing in the Pacific Northwest.

Warranty

This book is guaranteed to get you on the mountain and keep you oriented.

Pros

  • Intermediate and Expert guide books open up two different experiences
  • On-Mountain dining experiences listed in maps

Cons

  • Snow can be wet and heavy that close to the coast
  • Wildly unpredictable weather can prove dangerous

Off-Piste Skiing


man skiing at whistler skiing

Alpine Skiing
Alpine Skiing (Outdoor Adventures Series)
  • SHK01418
  • Ronald Kipp
  • Publisher: Human Kinetics, Inc.

Off-piste skiing is a technical term for the act of skiing off the designated trails, into either backcountry or side country, tight trees or the open, swooping field of a glacier. It comes with its own special set of techniques, equipment, and terrain, and should never be entered into lightly. It can be dangerous, by nature.

PRICE

Although in many places you can access the backcountry for free (if you are cool with literally walking up a mountain with your gear on your back), with Whistler skiing you can go on private tours of the glacial fields.

EASE of use

LIft access to backcountry areas makes the art of exploring the mountain on a board or a set of skis easier than it's ever been. Actually skiing in the backcountry is never easy, but at least Whistler skiing makes getting there far easier.

PERFORMANCE

The trails are steep and deep and the snow flies fast and frequent. Being nestled in the mountains of the North Pacific puts this resort in the perfect location for snow, snow, and more snow. Of course, all of this snow piles up to an unforgettable ski trip.

durability

Off-piste skiing will definitely test your durability.

Warranty

There is not much of a warranty when it comes to skiing. Some of your equipment will have a warranty, but as far as the backcountry is concerned, you will have to sign a waiver before agreeing to go on your trek.

Pros

  • Once in a lifetime mountain experience
  • Thousands of acres of open terrain
  • Beautiful vistas allow you to forget you are at a resort

Cons

  • Off Piste skiing weather dependent
  • Avalanche danger poses realistic health risks
  • Being rescued by ski patrol can be costly

Alpine Skiing


skier doing tricks at whistler skiing

Powder
Powder: The Greatest Ski Runs on the Planet
  • Powder The Greatest Ski Runs on the Planet
  • Patrick Thorne
  • Publisher: Quercus

Alpine skiing is considered the most common and most easily accessible type of skiing. Quite simply, the act of Alpine skiing is the act of remaining on the groomed trails, also known as the corduroy. Though it is safer than its off-piste cousin, it is not without its own risk, and those groomed trails have a way of getting extremely icy.

PRICE

Lift tickets can get expensive, and a stay at a luxury hotel (or any hotel, for that matter) can become rather pricey. Fortunately, Whistler skiing offers various vacation packages to fit your budget.

EASE of use

Alpine skiing definitely does not require the climbing or mountaineering skills that off-piste skiing entails, and with easily marked trails organized by skill level, anyone can jump on a board or a pair of skis and be flying by the end of the first day.

PERFORMANCE

Alpine ski equipment possesses high levels of technological sophistication and has been improving in recent years.

durability

Alpine ski equipment is usually engineered to endure rigorous use in brutal mountain environments. By staying on trails and not running the risk of hitting a rock or exposed tree root, equipment should last quite a long while.

Warranty

Most equipment does not come with extended warranties. Considering the high level of technology that is being put into the construction of such equipment, it would take a pretty extended period before your gear begins to wear down.

Pros

  • Safer than Off piste skiing
  • Lift access makes it possible to get more runs in
  • Centrally located lodges make lunch breaks convenient and not time-consuming

Cons

  • Less of an adventure
  • More crowds on the corduroy
  • Groomed trails have tendency to get "skied off"

Nordic Skiing


couple at whistler skiing

A North So True
A North So True: A Near & Far Novel
  • Serena Clarke
  • Publisher: Free Bird Books
  • Paperback: 255 pages

Nordic skiing is a type of skiing that is greatly adapted to the deep powder of Whistler. With this type of skiing, only the toe is fastened to the binding of the skis, allowing the heel to be raised for more control and tighter turns. It is also called "tele-skiing" and requires specialized equipment

PRICE

Nordic skiing is definitely slightly more expensive than Alpine skiing, as you will need to pick up a pair of skis fitted with a particular type of binding.

EASE of use

Tele-ski bindings are more complicated than traditional bindings and the sport itself has a more advanced technique. It is not recommended for beginners.

PERFORMANCE

Nordic skiing equipment is particularly fine tuned and is usually adapted to the most extreme versions of the sport, such as the infamous skiing long jump.

durability

Though Nordic equipment is developed with cutting-edge technology and innovation, it also undergoes an enormous amount of wear. It features smaller, moving parts in the bindings that allow for the classic heel raising motion that is a signature of the sport of tele-skiing.

Warranty

Brand new Nordic skiing equipment usually comes with a warranty.

Pros

  • Tighter turns and greater maneuverability
  • Great in deep snow
  • Opens terrain that otherwise cannot be accessed

Cons

  • Moving parts on the bindings can malfunction
  • Slightly more expensive than other options

Conclusion

Overall, Whistler skiing offers the best Alpine sports has to offer. You have access to great hotels, lodging, spas, wine bars and entertainment. Beyond that, you have the vast expanse of the wild Pacific Northwest and British Columbia Coastal range to adventure through, play in, and enjoy. With so many lifts and so many trails, there is something to be enjoyed for skiers of every skill level. There is also enough of a challenge gradient to keep beginners coming back for a lifetime of fun and adventure.

If you want to enjoy a pristine mountain environment while also being in the midst of a vibrant winter sports culture and surrounded by a great community, come to Whistler Blackcomb and see what all the talk is about. We guarantee that you will not regret your foray into Whistler skiing and you will enjoy the adventure of a lifetime.

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