We’re finally having the Whistler snowboarding adventure we’ve always wanted and we couldn’t wait to get on the hill. It had been two years since we’d been snowboarding and we were excited to hit the powdery tracks of Whistler rather than the icy conditions we always faced in Ontario.
We had never snowboarded big mountains before. When we lived in BC more than a decade ago, we were skiiers. After moving back to Ontario, we took up snowboarding and now it was time to return to the beautiful West Coast mountains.
Snowboarding in Whistler, the Experience
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Ski and Snowboard Rentals
We sold our snowboards a couple of years ago since we had been traveling full time, so we had to rent all our gear upon our arrival. Luckily, Whistler Blackcomb rents packages and makes it super easy.
We set out to the pro shop at the base of Whistler Gondola and filled out our paperwork lickety-split. In a short time we had everything we needed. We made the wise choice to prebook our gear online. Everything is computerized, so it was all ready and waiting for us. Within minutes we were in the back gear room with Sam, a super friendly guy from England who fitted our boots and boards.
The guys at Whistler Blackcomb have mad skills. They could fit and size you up within minutes. Once we let them know how we ride (goofy or regular – we’re regular by the way) Our boards were fitted to perfection.
They had every last detail decided to suit our height and preference. It was a smooth experience and we were on our way out the door with big grins on our faces.
Where to Pick up Lift Tickets in Whistler
Right next door to the lift is where you can pick up your tickets and fresh tracks pass. The Fresh Tracks pass can be used one time at any time. We got a 4-day lift pass that could be used over 5 days. You need a day of rest after riding these mountains, especially when you’re as rusty as we are.
We bought it when we picked up our pre-booked Fresh Tracks passes but decided to use them later in the week when we felt comfortable on the boards again. I’m glad we waited because fresh tracks aren’t something you want to feel intimidated by. You can get a lot of runs in without having to share runs with anyone else on the mountains.
Friendly Staff of Whistler
If you are feeling intimidated, don’t be. Everyone who works in Whistler are the friendliest most laid-back people on the planet. You’ll be surprised to hear Aussie and English accents everywhere offering a “good day” or a proper “hello mate”. Those who choose to work in the village, work here because they love it.
They don’t judge your skills. They are so excited for you to be here experiencing their favourite mountain and they are so happy you can’t help but leave with a smile on your face.
Fresh Tracks in Whistler
Everyone was raving about the fresh tracks experience when we told them we were going snowboarding in Whistler. So as soon as we arrived at the village, we picked up our gear and set off to the ticket booth to buy our Fresh Tracks Pass which gives us early access up the gondola where a sunrise buffet breakfast awaits.
That was going to have to wait for another day as Fresh Tracks was long over today, so instead, we hopped on the hill to enjoy the rest of the day snowboarding. If you want to see what it’s like to snowboard fresh tracks in Whistler, you can read about it here.
Quick Tips for Snowboarding and Skiing in Whistler
Whistler can be overwhelming. There are so many runs that it’s difficult to know where to start. You almost feel paralyzed with choices. That’s why at 11:30 am each and every day, free guided tours are offered on both Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. We highly recommend taking advantage of these if it’s your first time in Whistler. They offer different levels from intermediate to advanced and you can join the group that you’re comfortable with.
Food and Eating on the Mountains
There are plenty of stops all over the mountain for food and drinks. We suggest skiing through lunchtime and eating earlier or later to take advantage of quieter free lifts and runs. We found that by skiing through from 11:30 to 1:30 pm, we got a lot more runs in as most people were in a chalet eating.
Snowboarding Whistler – Tips for Skiers
Instead of catching the gondola up Whistler Mountain in the morning and having to stand in a long line, we grabbed the Fitzsimmons Express chairlift. It takes you almost as high as the gondola but you don’t have the long wait and you won’t be starting at the same spot as all the crowds. There’s a quick transfer to another lift “the Garbanza Express.”
It can be a bit colder than the Gondola since it isn’t covered, but on a beautiful day like we had, it’s great to start off outdoors. Whistler is often warmer than other ski resorts in North America.
Hire a Mountain Host at Whistler
We had a mountain host take us around and I won’t lie, I felt pretty good when he said to us that he thinks we were fibbing when we told him we hadn’t snowboarded in four years. We took it easy on a blue run to get our legs back and see how we rode after a four year sabbatical. To our amazement, it was just like riding a bike!
Sure, we weren’t as fast and daring as we used to be, but we were comforted to know that we’d be able to tackle this mountain and enjoy the week! We were doing so great, that he decided to take us on the Olympic Runs.
Whistler Backcountry Skiing
Whistler has a fantastic mix of glades runs, long meandering blue runs and awesome steep runs. You can also do some back-country skiing and snowboarding. If you don’t have experience, we certainly recommend hiring a guided tour to take you into Whistler’s famous bowls.
We did it for a day and it was awesome. We have never snowboarded in such deep powder. It’s a completely different skill set, but I am glad we tried it.
Olympics and Whistler
We love the Winter Olympics. Most Canadians are more excited over the Winter Olympics than Summer ones. It’s more exciting than the boring and stale summer Olympics that are always filled with controversy.
From freestyle skiing to the zany and crazy snowboard cross to halfpipe and alpine skiing, it’s an Olympics filled with adrenaline-pumping daredevil activities.
Whistler hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics and now it was our turn to zip down the men’s Olympic run designed by a Crazy Canuck, Dave Murray. It is considered one of the best downhill courses in the world and the 3.5 km run with over a thousand metre elevation drop made our thighs burn.
Ending at Creekside, the original village of Whistler Mountain, there are plenty of places to grab a bite or a hot chocolate before catching the gondola back up the mountain.
Peak to Peak Gondola
After playing around on Whistler Mountain and testing out the female Olympic run which was just as, if not more exciting than the men’s downhill, we hopped on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola for some time on Blackcomb.
The Peak 2 Peak Gondola is an engineering feat connecting Whistler and Blackcomb mountains spanning 3.03 kilometers (1.88 miles) in mid-air with the highest point being 436 meters (1,430 feet.) above ground.
The ride is free with your ski pass and it opens you to an entirely new set of trails for your skiing and snowboarding pleasure.
Fast Lifts of Whistler Blackcomb
Whistler Blackcomb’s various ski lifts and gondolas can accommodate 65,507 skiers per hour! We were told that it can easily accommodate 29,000 people on the mountain at once.
Whistler Blackcomb is a massive complex, with the next closest resort in North America being 50% smaller and it’s fit for every single level of skiing. Because of its size, the number of lifts, runs, and bowls, even at the highest of peak season, you’ll find yourself standing alone on a run with nothing but you, the falling snow, and the evergreen trees lining your way.
If you decide to ski or snowboard in Whistler, give yourself more than a day. It takes a lifetime to discover all the hills and runs that there are, but a few days will definitely give you a taste of the mountain life and leave you wanting to come back for more. We had five days on the hill from morning to afternoon and we still feel that we barely scratched the surface. But five days was enough to have a whole lot of fun!
Where to Stay When Skiing in Whistler
We stayed at the Westin Whistler and it was the perfect choice. Located directly beside the gondola, we only had to walk out of our room to get on the slopes. And better yet, we could store our gear in the snowboard and ski locker room.
If you rent from Whistler Blackcomb, gear storage is free.
The Westin is located right at the base of the mountain and once you’re done for the day, you drop off your boards and don’t have to deal with them again until morning. Note: Storage opens at 7:00 am so if you are doing Fresh Tracks, be sure to leave your gear with the bell room for early pickup.
As many staff said to us “We all come for the winters, but stay for the summers in Whistler.” See for yourself, the beautiful of Whistler Canada.
For more on our Whistler adventure check out:
- Sea to Sky Highway Stops – What to See From Vancouver to Whistler
- 30 Awesome Things to Do in Whistler, BC
- Snowmobile Whistler – A Thrill Ride Into the Backcountry
- First on the Mountain, Fresh Tracks in Whistler
- Bobsled Whistler
- 14 Amazing Things to Do in Squamish BC
- 26 Best Things to do in Vancouver, BC
Enjoy more Canada Winter Activities