On the Mountains

What do you get when you add a brand-new six-seater quad chairlift on Whistler Mountain and a whole new lift line and access point into a favourite spot on Blackcomb?

A revolution in the way skiers and riders enjoy Whistler Blackcomb, that’s what! There’s little doubt the winter season of 2013/14 is going to transform the way we enjoy the mountains — the fruits of Whistler Blackcomb’s $18 million capital expansion project.

But let’s back up a little.

Sure, the basic stats remain the same: it’s still an enviable 1,925 hectares (4,757 acres) of skiable terrain — combined, that’s the most in North America. It has more than 200 named runs on the map, 37 lifts, 11.9 metres (39.1 ft) average snowfall per year, and 1,609 metres (5,280 ft) of vertical, three gorgeous glaciers, and 12 awesome alpine bowls.
But now there’s more. And it’s better.

The new six-seater chairlift at Harmony on Whistler — the biggest chairlift at the resort — will be able to move 3,600 people up the mountain every hour. Called Harmony Six, it will be Whistler’s “heavy lifter” into the alpine, redistributing the way people ski the top of the mountain.

Across the valley, the Crystal zone isn’t just getting the old Harmony Chair. Rather, a realigned chairlift called the Crystal Ridge Express that will allow guests, once used to going to the Crystal Chair and skiing all the way back to Excalibur, to stay in the zone for the whole day, if they so desire. The work includes new gladed runs in the area and other run improvements.

If that all seems a bit, well, daunting, chew on this — 20 per cent of the terrain here is for beginners, 55 per cent for intermediate and 25 per cent for advanced. Don’t be intimated — everyone can ski or ride Whistler Blackcomb.

You can always ease your way up the mountains with a lesson or two, or take part in one of the on-mountain camps. If you think you’ve already mastered all there is to learn on the snow, think again. These pros can show you something new. They can’t help but make you better! And they’re really fun.

But if that’s not enough to tempt you on to one or two planks, don’t despair. You can still get a sense of what it’s all about by sightseeing. The gravity-defying Peak 2 Peak Gondola, spanning the two mountains, hanging above the Fitzsimmons Valley, is not just an engineering wonder (though it does break several world records) it also offers, quite simply, the best rooms with a view in Whistler.

Truthfully, there’s a reason why places are called Sun Bowl and Seventh Heaven and Angel Dust. Find out for yourself. And enjoy the ride! It doesn’t get any better than this.

Get all the details at Whistlerblackcomb.com