If you’d told me a few years ago I’d go to Whistler, I wouldn’t have believed you. Why would I want to go somewhere just to ski? And isn’t it full of Australians?
But that was then. This morning Mark very kindly dropped as at the airport at 8am to pick up a hire car. We then drove through Vancouver rush hour (which wasn’t too bad) and stopped in the city to grab a few food supplies for our road trip up the coast to the ski Mecca, Whistler.
We then went through Stanley Park and over Lions Gate Bridge and up the Sea to Ski Highway. Talk about a stunning road! It was raining but that didn’t detract from how beautiful the drive was. Winding roads along the coast where you look out to tree-filled islands, gorgeous rock formations on your right and then clouds so low that you drive through them. Glen couldn’t understand why I thought that was so cool but come on! WE WERE DRIVING THROUGH CLOUDS!
He fell asleep about halfway through so I had a quiet drive up to Whistler. We pulled into the hotel we’re staying at (Whistler Village Inn and Suites), parked the car, hired skis and bought our lift ticket. We weren’t ready to go until 12 but we waited another half an hour to get the afternoon ticket as it was about half price.
I had no idea how huge Whistler Mountain is (and Blackcomb, which is next to it). People had said how long the ride to the top is but it’s something that needs to be seen to be believed. We got on one gondola (most of them are fully enclosed cable car things) and went about a third of the way up to go for some easy runs to get our ski legs back.
The conditions were so different from Ontario that at first it was a bit difficult to manage. And that was on a green! We made it to the bottom, at which point I had to go change my boots as they were seriously cramping my feet. When I returned, we caught the gondola up to the top of the mountain and began our descent down.
People complain about Ontario’s ski slops because they’re so short, and in comparison to Whistler, they’re tiny. In some ways that’s not such a bad thing as you really need a lot of stamina to do these slopes all day. One run from top to halfway down took us about thirty minutes. One of the amazing things on the ride down was us going through clouds. SKIING THROUGH CLOUDS. You can’t see very far ahead of you so you hope you’re not going to go off a cliff, but how awesome is that?
We then went back up to the top and caught the Peak-to-Peak ride between the mountains. This is a massive cable car that just hangs between the mountains. When you’re in the middle of the valley and realise there is actually nothing connecting you to the ground except the towers on the sides of the mountains a long distance away, it’s a bit of an unnerving thought.
Once on Blackcomb Mountain we took the long, long green run down. It’s a very narrow trail that goes for about 5km to the next level down. From there we took a bit of a blue, at the bottom of which I fell and hurt my foot, which kind of spelled the end of skiing for the afternoon. I made it down to the very bottom and back to Whistler Village but my legs had lost all their strength and there was no way I was going to be able to do another full run down from the top (safely anyway).
But we were happy with how much we’d done, spending about three hours out there on runs that we’re not used to. We’re keen to go again, staying for a longer period of time and with a group of friends. And the scenery is amazing, which is worth it in itself. Mountains, forests, rocks, snow – all beautiful (and distracting).
We chilled in our room for a little while after returning our skis and deciding not to be skis that are on sale. (It’s the end of the season and the prices are very reasonable, but we’ve got more travelling to do and I’m a little wary of buying skis on the fly. I need someone who knows what they’re doing to tell me what I should be looking out for.) We went for dinner at 21 Steps, which is right next to our hotel. I had a nice piece of BC salmon, while Glen had pork tenderloins.
We’re now back in the hotel. Glen’s working on abstracts and research projects which are due any day now, while I’m plodding along with blog posts and sorting out promotional stuff for my book. Tomorrow we drive back down the coast and catch a flight to Calgary and then…Lake Louise.