On the Mountains

IT'S POSSIBLE to talk about Whistler’s mountains without first mentioning the biggest and boldest project on the horizon.

It is called Renaissance, Whistler Blackcomb’s $345 million investment in Whistler in the coming years.

If all goes according to plan, it will not just transform the way we play in the mountains, it will change the face of Whistler — the people who come here to play and the people who choose to live here.

There’s a reason it’s called Renaissance; it will be ushering in a new era. You don’t have to come to Whistler to ski or bike anymore. There will be a whole world of weatherproof adventure at your fingertips.


Here are just some of the highlights:

The Watershed — a water-play centre with surf waves and waterslides;

The Annex — an indoor action sports complex for skiers, snowboarders, mountain bikers, BMXers and skateboarders;

The Blackcomb Adventure Park — a mountain roller coaster, zip lines, ropes and suspension bridges.


The project also includes real estate development and a revamping of the Blackcomb base and Base II. Among all those highlights, however, some of the smaller upgrades and changes have been lost in the buzz. Take, for example, the 50 km of bike trails that are set to go into the Whistler Mountain Bike Park once the Renaissance approvals are in place. It will be a game changer for riding in Whistler, particularly in the Creekside zone.

But mountain biking is just one part of summer in the mountains. The Renaissance plans include building the highest suspension bridge in North America as well as cantilevered lookouts, improved hiking routes and uphill “grind-inspired” fitness trails.

It all goes to show just how much summer means in a town known around the world as a winter wonderland.

Whatever the season, these mountains — both Whistler and Blackcomb and the peaks beyond — are an ever-changing playground. The alpine in the early season, for example, is a far different experience than in the height of summer. In early season you’ll still find remnants of the winter rising up from the ground in icy white walls. By August, the whiteness of snow has been eclipsed by a kaleidoscope of colour as the alpine wildflowers transform the rugged peaks with splashes of friendly colour — the deep purple Fireweed and the pop of crimson from Indian paintbrush.

It is recommended that you take two hours to enjoy the wonders of the record-breaking PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola. But, take it from people who spend a lot of time in the mountains, more is better. This is a place to embrace the wonder of nature and soak in all it has to offer. It does something to the soul to be so close to the sky, to feel as though you’re on the very top of the world.

And if you really want to get off the beaten path, don’t forget about the other less famous peaks too (more on this in these pages.)

Here’s a little insider tip: When you’re on the gondola en route to the Roundhouse and you have your eyes trained to the snow-capped peaks on high, don’t forget to look down too. Black bears are always on the slopes, feasting on the clover. After all, our playground was their home first!

Here’s another tip: Keep listening for the whistle of a marmot, the animal that gives Whistler its name. They like to hang out in the rocks.