Friday, July 17, 2015

Whistler, British Columbia

Best For: Skiers and snowboarders who want the biggest of everything

Executive summary by darmansjah

Whistler Blackcomb is North America's mega-mountain. A gargantuan ski resort in British Columbia’s Coast Mountains, and a two-hour drive from Vancouver’s international airport, it hosts two conjoined areas—Whistler and Blackcomb. It gets the most snow, has some of the longest vertical drops, the largest terrain parks, the steepest steeps, the most runs, and the greatest acreage of any ski area on the continent. In other words, it’s large. Ski magazines routinely anoint it the finest ski area in North America.

Which is why it makes this list, even if the "town" at its base was only developed in the decades following the ski area’s opening in 1966 (Blackcomb opened in 1980). It has since mushroomed into a sprawling resort village that may lack the charm of a historic mountain town, but with over 20,000 beds, 3,000 hard-partying ski bums, er, “seasonal workers,” and untold thousands of visiting skiers from all over the world, it doesn't lack excitement. There are several quieter sub-villages, but Whistler Village is the area's epicenter. Wisely developed with car-free streets and plazas, it's a buzzing hive of condos, restaurants, and nightclubs, with gondolas leaving directly from the village up either mountain. Whistler Blackcomb’s popularity does come at a price—everything here is expensive, lift lines can be long, and you’ll need reservations for dinner—but with 8,171 acres of skiing and around 5,000 feet of vertical (on each of two separate mountains) most people are too busy swimming in endorphins to complain.

Ask a Local 

Leslie Anthony is one of the world’s top ski writers and author of White Planet: A Mad Dash Through Modern Global Ski Culture. He was drawn to Whistler in 1999 by its “glaciated alpine terrain, relentless powder, big-city feel, and the fact that it was the center of the big-mountain freeski universe.” Here are his recommendations.

Best Digs
Budget: If you don’t want to stay at a hostel (of which there are several), the Aava Whistler Hotel is the best.
Swank: Fairmont Chateau Whistler

Best Eats
Cheap: Pasta Lupino
Gourmet: Umberto's Trattoria

Best After-Ski Party Spot
There are three separate base areas, so here's one for each: Dusty's Bar & BBQ in Creekside, GLC in Whistler Village, and Merlin's Bar & Grill at Blackcomb Base.

Best Rest-Day Activity
Bobsledding, the tube park, Scandinave Spa Whistler

Whistler Blackcomb’s Classic Ski Run
Blackcomb Glacier on Blackcomb Mountain or Peak to Creek on Whistler Mountain

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