Sheer size can often intimidate. Whistler Blackcomb, the largest ski resort in North America, drapes across two monster mountains in British Columbia’s Coastal Range. Despite its daunting size, it sits high on most skiers’ bucket lists.
If you have a week or more to spend, you can explore all of the nooks and crannies, but if you only have time for a brief introduction, use your time efficiently. Learn one mountain and then the other. With the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola connecting the Whistler and Blackcomb alpine, you can hop between the two mountains in 11 minutes.
With over 100 options to choose from, lodging isn't hard to find. Whistler Village bustles with shopping, après, and restaurants while Creekside, the original base area, yields quieter lodges.
Skiing off of Whistler Peak. Photo: Mike Crane
Start out on Whistler Mountain, home of Whistler Blackcomb’s first developed ski runs. Head up the Whistler Gondola or the combination of the Creekside Gondola and Red Chair. Drop to the Peak Chair to ascend to the summit of Whistler Mountain. From this viewpoint, spot the famous Black Tusk along with one of many stone Inukshuks— stone figures built by Inuits.
Drop left on the cat track to the Saddle, a scenic slot in the summit cliffs that spits skiers through a dive back to Peak Chair. Return to the summit, heading this time to Burnt Stew, a cat track descending into Symphony Bowl.
Via the Symphony lift, pick several runs from Piccolo Summit in this intermediate playground. Start from the large carved flutes, floating through gentle open undulating slopes that roll into clusters of wide-spaced firs perfect for intermediate skiers. Near the bottom, be sure to catch Jeff’s Ode To Joy to revel in one of the 10 gladed groomed tree trails. Test out Rhapsody Bowl, and hike to the Flute Bowls.
When finished with Symphony, catch Burnt Stew to Harmony Chairlift for a little steeper terrain. A descent on Harmony Ridge yields sweeping views with slopes plunging off on both sides into the giant bowls. Explore Harmony Bowl via drops from the ridge or pitches down the middle from Harmony Piste.
The Harmony Lift accesses some steeper terrain. Photo: Mike Crane
Catch the Pika Traverse to skirt over a bowl of soup at Chic Pea Hut. Spend the afternoon in the Creekside drainage, lapping runs on Big Red and Garbanzo. Be sure to tack on one start-to-finish run down the steep groomed plunges on the iconic Dave Murray Downhill.
For après, hit Dusty’s in Creekside to knock back a Legendary Caesar. Then, settle in at Nita Lake Lodge for an elegant lakeside dinner.
Aim for Blackcomb Mountain. Warm up on Solar Coaster for a classic groomer before crossing north to catch Excelerator to Jersey Cream, where playful runs bounce through gullies. When ready, move to the Glacier Express, which squeezes between immense ice-scoured rocks in its climb to Horstman Glacier. For a groomer, ski the Blue Line, but try the off piste sides full of fun powder pitches.
When ready, drop below the Glacier Express to the Crystal Chair. Lap a few of the rolling fall-line runs, such as Rock and Roll, before heading into Crystal Hut for a plate of hot waffles.
Work back up to the top of Jersey Cream to circle the cat track to Seventh Heaven. Spend the afternoon exploring Seventh Heaven, where big views of rugged Garibaldi Park and Whistler Mountain comprise the scenery. Long descents mix with groomers, powder shots, and moguls through wide-open alpine and run-cut forest.
At day’s end, ski to the base of Blackcomb Mountain. Follow the music to Garibaldi Lift Company for après. Then, ready yourself for an evening topped off with an exquisite dinner at Araxi.
Whistler Blackcomb at Dusk. Photo: Mike Crane
With some familiarity of both mountains, it’s time for a big tour. Head for the longest adventures on both mountains, using Peak 2 Peak. The gondola connects both mountaintops with the longest free span in the world. Wait for one of the two silver gondolas with a glass window in the floor to look straight down.
The plan? Cover both mountains top-to-bottom. For Whistler Mountain’s longest tour, head to the summit of the Peak Chair. Let the thighs get a workout on the Peak to Creek Run, groomed twice weekly. It drops 5,020 feet to the base of Whistler Mountain.
After working back up to Whistler’s alpine via the Creekside Gondola and Red Chair, grab lunch at the Roundhouse on Whistler. Hop Peak 2 Peak and drop to the Glacier Express to reach the Showcase T-bar on Horstman Glacier. Ride it to the top to enter Blackcomb Glacier. You can float through the middle of the remote bowl or tackle a number of more difficult options from the sides. At the bottom, catch the long Blackcomb Glacier cat track that swings back around to the front side and continue to the base of Blackcomb on Cruiser and Lower Cruiser.
To cap the day, go for big views up top or powder in the trees. When the legs give out, forego après in favor of the Scandinave Spa. Replay the best turns of the trip in your head as you soak in the hot pools, plunge into cold pools, and relax.