How to spend a weekend skiing in Whistler
Simply put, Whistler is one of the best mountains to ski in North America - my personal top 3 include Whistler, Jackson Hole, and Heavenly, in no particular order right now. First of all, the mountain is huge so there’s a variety of terrain for all levels. There’s a good amount of back-country options too, along with bowls and trees of varying difficulty. We had 3 full days on the mountain and I could’ve easily used 3 more just to try to reach all the runs. The town of Whistler is an ideal ski town with a mix of pubs and restaurants and late night bars. There’s plenty of lodging within walking distance of the town center so there’s little need for a car. Like most ski towns there are multiple shuttle services that run to and from the lodgings that are slightly out of walking distance.
We rented an Airbnb about a 10 minute walk from the Gondola. The complex had an indoor/outdoor hot tub and the units had fireplaces and space to fit 4 people comfortable (5 was tight but we made it work!). To get to Whistler, I flew into Vancouver late Wednesday night and booked a spot on one of the many shuttles that runs from Vancouver to Whistler for Thursday morning. The shuttle cost $27 for one-way and left Vancouver at 6am to arrive in Whistler by 830am. You can find a variety of shuttle options if you just google “shuttle from Vancouver to Whistler”, but the one I chose was through Whistler.com. I dropped my bags in the apartment once I arrived and was at the Gondola by 9am to start our first full day of skiing. I should mention that I bought the epic pass for 2018-2019 for the purpose of being able to not worry about lift tickets and experience as many mountains as possible this past year. The pass is great and you break even if you take at least 3 weekend trips. The Epic Pass was $900 and was fully paid for by Sept of 2018 so while it is a significant upfront cost, it was a good investment for me. I ended up taking 5 ski trips over the winter for a total of 9 days. With each mountains’ day passes ranging between $100-$160 at the very least I broke even if all day passes were $100 (which wasn’t the case). A more realistic break-even point was at my 6th day of skiing. So if you plan to ski more than 6 days, the Epic Pass or the Icon Pass are worth the money. From an additional cost perspective, I own my own skis and take them with me on every trip. This usually means a $25 bag fee 2x (unless I fly Delta where I have status), but given that I can also pack most of my clothes into my ski bag around the skis, it's worth it to save money on renting equipment.
But back to Whistler! When I’m on a new mountain, I like to pick a side and work my way across. The number of days I have dictates how many times I repeat runs to try different paths verses moving on to the next lift/run combo. For Whistler-Blackcomb we had a large group mostly made up of snowboards and only 3 of us skiied. We mostly stay together by meeting at the top or bottom of lifts and taking different paths down. For anyone who doesn’t already know, Whistler-Blackcomb is 2 mountains connected by a Gondola called Peak to Peak. So to start the day we took the main Blackcomb Gondola, New Blackcomb, up as far as it would go to clear the layer of clouds which were about ⅓ of the way up the mountain and limited our visibility. If you’d like to follow along on a map, see the images below for a map of the runs and lifts on the mountain.
Our goal was to make it as high up the mountain as possible without having to traverse much. So skied an easy green to the 7th Heaven Express lift to get to the highest point of Blackcomb that could be reached with a lift. From here there are multiple ways down and we skied around this area quite a bit trying the blues and bowls. Cloud 9 run is very pretty and gives a great view of the Whistler peak too. After skiing the morning on the skier’s left side of Blackcomb, we broke for lunch at the Rendezvous at the top of New Blackcomb Gondola and then continued to other side of Blackcomb for the afternoon. There are plenty of long blue runs on the skier’s right side of Blackcomb and we had fun weaving in and out of the trees taking various paths down. We called it a day around 330 as the lifts started to close and went back to the apartment for a little après. Since we had access to the hot tub, we stocked up on wine and beer from the liquor store next door to our complex and parked ourselves in that hot tub for a few hours. It should go without saying that a hot tub is crucial for every ski trip. It’s worth paying a little extra to get that soak time for your cold tired muscles. That night we ate dinner at a spot in town and kept things lowkey.
The next day we explored the Whistler side. I’ll admit my muscles were very sore from the first day of skiing...I was far too optimistic the first day and pushed myself hard. I paid for the second day with wobbly legs and a few good tumbles. But the weather was clear so I forced myself to suck it up and keep skiing (obviously throwing in some comfort food and a ton of water at the Roundhouse Lodge halfway through the day). I knew I wanted to hop off the mountain around 3 to start birthday drinks at Merlin’s at the base of the mountain near the Gondola. We ate dinner in the apartment and then grabbed drinks at a few different spots in Whistler village to celebrate. The last day we switched between re-doing our favorite runs on both sides of the mountain and searching for off-trail tree paths to explore. Whistler easily became one of my favorite mountains because of the variety of available skiing and because of how beautiful the mountains are. Having our own apartment to come back to, with a hot tub and the ability to cook definitely made the experience more personal and relaxing. There are plenty of resorts, hotels and hostels to choose from if you prefer that, but having access to a kitchen and feeling like you can live in a spot makes a trip better (not to mention, cheaper). Between lodging, food, and alcohol, we ended up paying about $300 each because we were splitting everything 5 ways.
Reach out with any questions about this trip and others! And definitely connect with me on IG if you have trip suggestions, ideas, or asks! I would love to hear from you about what you’ve experienced.
For info on what I did in Vancouver to bookend my Whistler trip, checkout my Vancouver Post.