Whistler mountain is one of the North America’s premier ski resorts offering skiers of all abilities enormous amounts of awesome terrain. With over 4,000 ft of vertical, you often have at least 2 distinct climate zones, and leg burning runs to keep you amused for weeks, months, even years on end. There are also 2 distinct ski areas, formerly broken out as Whistler and Blackcomb now combined into one ticket.
Beyond the on-slope experience, Whistler Village offers travelers a wide array of lodging options, dining choices, shopping, and apres skiing. This really opens up this destination for just about anyone who enjoys a good mountain vacation. Non-skiers will be fully entertained by walking the village, taking the tram for a mid-mountain for lunch, or just hanging out in some of the premium lodging resorts like the Fairmont.
The big attraction here is the skiing, and plenty of it. Whether you’re a world class extreme skier, weekend warrior, or learner there’s miles and miles, and 1,000’s of feet of vertical for you here at Whistler. I now have about 35 days skiing Whistler and still feel that I’m only scratching the surface on finding all the great runs and secret stashes. I rarely recommend skiers to get a guide, but you may really benefit from a local showing you around the hill if you’ve never explored Whistler before. Even the best skier, and perhaps even more for the best skiers you really need someone to guide you and show you how to get to all the good stuff.
The terrain is quite diverse and is broken out into many dimensions. The first dimension is the snow quality or winter vs. spring type snow and weather conditions. The lower mountain, defined as below the top of either base run gondola tends to be warm snow, and more sheltered from high winds or adverse weather conditions. Whistler can get socked in at the top, and the lower mountain offers great, highly diverse skiing when you’re seeking some good visibility. The top of the mountains is where the magic really happens, and you can almost always find cold, crisp, deep “winter snow’ all season long. Up top you’ll find out of this world amazing views from the peaks (weather permitting), endless chutes, bowls, groomers, tree skiing, bumps, hidden stashes, and some “backcountry” type skiing.
Another dimension to the skiing experience is the 2 distinct ski mountains of Whistler and Blackcomb. You’ll probably get a bit bias to ski on the side which is closest to your accommodations and frankly you can just ski one side an entire trip and never get bored. Both the Whistler Side and Blackcomb side have an incredible diversity of runs it’s cumbersome to describe. I’ll do my best.
Harmony and Symphony Bowls: Both the Harmony and Symphony chairs service huge bowls that could be mini-ski resorts in their own right. You can go powder seeking on the sides, race the groomers down the middle, explore endless trails, and find some great steeps as well. These are open bowls, so the weather needs to be good enough for visibility. There’s not a lot of trees to give you definition, so sunny days are best.
Whistler Bowl / Peak Chair: The top of the Peak Chair offers such an amazing view of all the surrounding peaks, it’s worth a visit for all skiers to come and enjoy. Here is the famous “Peak to Creek” run, which is an intermediate level run and will burn up the legs of the most well conditioned skiers. Super fun, and a must do! You’ll also find some incredible double black chutes, bowls, and cliffs to amuse the most extreme skiers out there. On a powder day this is a must go destination.
Creekside / Olympic Downhill: If you’re seeking long, and longer groomed runs that keep you skiing rather than in the lift lines, skiing from the Peak or top of the gondola down through this section will keep you smiling for days. Perfect pitches for intermediate and advanced skiers alike.
Franzies / Emerald: Although these are on opposing aspects from the top of the gondola, they offer a great total variety of groomed and open bowl skiing for beginner, intermediate, and advanced skiers. It’s great because you’re close to the lodge, good visibility on most all days, and cold winter, deep snow conditions.
Lower Mountain / Whistler Village Side: When the weather really comes in, this is one of the best areas of the mountain. Dominated by tree-cut runs, you’ll find long winding, and super fun groomed and bumped up terrain for all levels of skiers. It’s also super fun if you’re looking to cruise “back to your home”, end of the day ski run.
7th Heaven: This is one of the most popular zones on the mountain offering incredible snow quality, good enough visibility even on the bad days, and huge diversity of terrain for intermediate and expert skiers. The groomers are varied, long and twisting, and the bowls spread out to give you enough elbow room to never have anyone in your path. This is a key lift on powder days, and you’ll find the deep stuff up here! It does get a bit cold and sometimes windy up here, but there’s a fun warming hut to grab a bowl of goulash and a schnapps.
Glacier: On a sunny day the Glacier Express and rope tow offer an amazing range of Expert and Advanced terrain. If you’re looking for those gut sucking steeps, bumps, open bowls, or ripping groomers – you’ll find it here. Also, for the more adventurous, head over the backside to find “backcountry” style open bowls and chutes. It’s an amazing adventure!
Chrystal Peak: This is a super fun side of the mountain, especially for those seeking really cool groomed runs. Theres fun undulations, and twists, turns that go on for miles and miles. Also, there’s a small lodge on the top, which is a great spot to warm up, grab a little lunch or schnapps. You could hang out here for a full vacation and never get bored.
Excelerator & Catskinner: For those bad weather days, these are the runs for fun. Long groomers, routes through the trees, and good visibility. This is a mid-climate zone, so you straddle the warmer bottom and colder top. Snow can be a bit varied, but the incredible grooming keeps everything in spec.
Overall, Whistler is tough to beat. Great early season snow, great late season spring skiing, trees, bowls, glaciers, chutes, powder, groomers, vistas… Whistler ears a spot on your bucket list of resorts you must visit in this lifetime. Once you go, you’ll want to go back every year!