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An incomplete guide to Whistler — all the things you want to know but were too afraid to ask. FAQ has your covered.

We know Whistler gets its name from the whistling hoary marmots but where does the name Blackcomb come from?

Mountaineer Don Munday and his wife Phyllis are credited with the first ascent of Blackcomb Mountain in 1923. They called the mountain Blackcomb in part because of the colour of the rock and also because they thought the peak looked like a rooster’s comb. The Mundays also named nearby Overlord Mountain.

Can kids go in the terrain parks at Whistler Blackcomb?

There are five terrain parks at WB and combined they bring more than 200 features and more than 100 jumps to the mountains. The parks are designed for all levels and all ages from the Big Easy Terrain Garden on Blackcomb and The School Yard on Whistler, which is a family certified zone in the Learning Area, to the Highest Level Park for black diamond skiers and riders. Fun fact: WB’s terrain parks are visible from space via Google Earth.

How big is the hunting canoe at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre?

The Salish hunting canoe is 40 ft long. It is called Nexws Chachu7 and is carved from a single cedar tree. It must be removed from the First Nations cultural centre each year to go on an ocean journey to honour the spirit of the canoe. The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre tells the stories of the Squamish Nation to the south and the Lil’wat Nation to the north. Their traditional territory overlaps in Whistler.

Lost in the village! Where can I get some help to find my way around?

There are information kiosks throughout the village where you can find Village Hosts who are happy to help you find your way. Don’t despair. Just stop and ask. You never know what you may find out.

Where do the locals ski on a powder day?

C’mon, you know there is no such thing as “friends” on a powder day. Locals have their own secret stashes — their go-to spots when the snow flies. Don’t despair. There’s more than 8,100 in-bounds acres. There’s more than enough for everyone. You’ll soon find your own “seventh heaven.

Can I trust WB’s snowphone?

In a word — yes. Look, skiers are a savvy bunch. They know exactly which way the wind blows. Literally. So, there’s no inflating snow numbers here. When you call 604-932-4211 for the snow report, you’re getting an accurate reading of the snow as measured by the early morning patrollers.

What’s the annual average snowfall in Whistler?

We’ll give it to you in every metric — 458 inches, 38.2 feet, 11.64 metres, 1,163 cm of snow per year. No matter how you write it, it’s a lot!

When is Whistler at its busiest over the winter?

The busiest two weeks in the winter season tend to be over the Christmas/New Year’s time period. There are other busy weeks too — Presidents’ Week in the U.S., Easter and March Break, WinterPRIDE, Family Day. These are fun times to visit the resort!

What’s a Pineapple Express?

It may sound delicious but we find them wholly distasteful in Whistler. A Pineapple Express is the non-technical term for a strong and persistent flow of atmospheric moisture and heavy precip from the waters of Hawaii and extending along the Pacific Coast of North America. In short, it’s rain. And lots of it.

Do I have to wear a helmet?

No, not technically. It’s not a safety requirement at WB. But everyone wears helmets these days so we encourage you to do it too. You won’t look weird wearing a helmet; you will be an anomaly without one. You can rent them throughout the village. Your toque won’t protect you if you run into a tree, or slam your head on the ice.

What’s a toque?

That’s Canadian for a winter hat, eh.

Toque may be Canadian but why does everyone sound Australian?

Whistler loves Aussies and Aussies love Whistler, which is why so many of them come here on working holiday visas. It’s also why so many of them stay and make their homes here. There are probably more Aussies here per capita than anywhere else outside of Oz. So don’t be worried about throwing out the occasional “G’day Mate.” There also a fair share of Brits, Germans, Czechs. Well, pretty much anyone from around the world who loves to ski.

How much are you expected to tip?

The general rule of thumb for tipping at restaurants is 15 per cent — more if the service is outstanding. Some restaurants will add on a tip, sometimes 18 per cent, for large parties. Check your bill to see if the tip has been added.

Where are the black bears?

Fast asleep, or they should be! Believe it or not, you could be skiing over some bears who have made their homes in trees and dens on the mountain. The bears will come out in the spring after hibernation.

What is the Spearhead Hut project that has been approved by the province for Whistler’s backcountry?

It’s a system of huts along the Spearhead Traverse, just beyond WB’s boundary. The huts will be spaced along the 40 km circuit and provide overnight accommodation, water, toilets, heat and self-serve cooking facilities.

What happens in Whistler to ring in the New Year?

The New Year’s Eve celebrations in Whistler are fun for the whole family. This is an alcohol-free event throughout the village including skating, bouncy castles, and family entertainment. The bars and clubs will be ringing in the New Year until the wee hours too. It’s not all PG-13!

Where’s the health centre?

The Whistler Health Care Centre has a fully-staffed emergency department with top-notch doctors and nurses who know more than their fair share about broken bones and torn ligaments, and more. The centre is located on Lorimer Road, right in the village. You can’t stay overnight but it’s open until 10 p.m. and doctors are on call throughout the night.

Where do the locals shop for groceries?

There are a few options for groceries around town but the two biggest stores are Nesters, just north of the village, and IGA in the village. There is also a market at Creekside and a smaller market in the village called The Grocery Store. There are separate liquor stores for beer and booze as well as Cold Beer and Wine stores.

Which one is higher — Whistler or Blackcomb?

Technically, Blackcomb Mountain is higher but not by much. Both mountains are comparable in terms of terrain and variety. Snowboarders tend to favour Blackcomb over Whistler.

Is it really just as good here in the summertime?

There is always something happening in Whistler in the summer — Ironman Canada, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the GranFondo, Crankworx. Whistler isn’t just a ski resort anymore. If you do one thing when you’re here this winter, make sure it’s to start planning your warm-weather Whistler vacation.