On the Mountains

MOUNTAIN LIVING — it’s woven into the fabric of everyday life here.

We live and breathe by these peaks. They beckon us in winter and summer, spring and fall.

They are our inspiration and our motivation, our playground, our office — an enduring force of nature, always pulling us back for more.

For some, like our insider Paige Bell, the draw is to the mountains off the beaten track, beyond the boundaries. It’s an endless world out there to explore and one where you need to have your wits about you, or someone like Bell to show you the ropes.

For most, however, it all comes down to our most famous peaks — Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. Just try to wrap your head around these stats.

There are 8,171 inbound acres. Three glaciers. More than 200 marked runs. Sixteen alpine bowls. Thirty-seven lifts. One incomparable PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola. About 1 mile of vertical on each mountain and annual average snowfall of 1,165 cm (or 459 in.)

There is no way to truly understand the sheer size and bounty of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains unless you see it for yourself. You don’t even have to ski or ride to enjoy them. Just jump on the gondola with a sightseeing pass and you’ll soon know what we’re talking about.

But to the skiers and riders, we say: Take a deep breath and drop into one of those alpine bowls like West Bowl, blanketed in fresh powder after an overnight storm.

Hike up Spanky’s Ladder with your skis on your shoulder or your board under your arm.

Take a minute and stand still in the quiet of the trees in Arthur’s Choice.

Everyone has a favourite spot on Whistler Blackcomb. What will yours be?


50 Years Strong and Better than Ever

It’s hard to believe but it was 50 years ago this season that Whistler Mountain first opened — January 15, 1966.

There were four lifts — a four-person gondola, a double chair called Red Chair and two T-bars. Today there are 19 lifts on Whistler Mountain.

There were six marked runs in ’66. Six! Chunky’s Choice, Gondola Run, Franz’s Run, Pony Trail, Jimmy’s Joker and Ego Bowl. Today there are more than 100 runs on Whistler Mountain. And let’s not forget about the bounty on Blackcomb.

Back then a half-day ski lesson cost you $3.50, while a private lesson was $8.50 per hour. Today, private lessons start at $119. (Locals tip: lessons are worth every penny).

Needless to say, Whistler Blackcomb has come a long way in the last 50 years. Let’s not forget the on-mountain dining which gets better every year, the heart-racing Tube Park and the legendary PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola.

Growing up has never looked or felt so good!