Sunday, November 17, 2013

WHISTLER BLACKCOMB EARLY OPENING


Great snow out west, Whistler Mountain opens nearly two weeks early!

The day before opening day

With five lifts running, British Columbia’s Olympic resort opened 13 days earlier than planned. Its glacier area, BlackcombMountain will follow suit on US Thanksgiving Day, Nov 28. And, hopefully, in March I’ll be there, too!

“Early season snowfall combined with our snowmaking team converting over 60 million gallons of water into snow the past few weeks, has allowed us to get things started early again this season,” says Doug MacFarlane, mountain manager at Whistler Blackcomb. Auguring well for my March visit when snow should have piled high - perhaps even reaching the season average of more than 1192 cm (469 in).

Emerald Express, Big Red Express and the Franz Chair lifts were running on the first day of the season, allowing access to 1800 vertical feet of skiing and riding terrain. Runs included Ego Bowl, Upper Whiskey Jack, Upper Franz, Papoose, Orange Peel and Pony Trail. For continuing lift status go to: www.whistlerblackcomb.com/the-mountain/lifts-and-grooming/index.

Whistler Blackcomb is a huge ski area with 200 marked runs over 8,171 acres of terrain including 16 bowls and three glaciers. The town - traversed by the lift system and also linked by shuttle buses - really rocks with a vast selection of après ski, glitzy shopping and fancy restaurants.

I haven’t visited for a few years but I have total recall of Merlin’s at Blackcomb with incredible nacho platters after skiing and also the Beaver Tails' kiosk, my kids’ favourite place for delicious chocolate-filled pancake concoctions. This was also where I first saw Rossignol’s equally delectable designer duds in one of the high-end ski boutiques. And last but not least, I remember the buckets of snow (even in April) that made for waist-deep powder in the Blackcomb glaciers! Wearing my lighter, spring-skiing garb, I was also grateful for the chairlift lids which you could pull down to minimize wetness on the ride up. You don’t see those in many places.

Combining its recent Olympic culture with the fact that many athletes live and train in Whistler Blackcomb, the resort has launched a unique Ski With an Olympian program where champions like Rob Boyd, Davey Barr and Julia Murray instruct and guide small classes around the two mountains. While others are just watching the Olympics on TV in February, you could be getting your own insider insight at Whistler!

New this season: 
-                      -       Harmony 6 high-speed chair, 50% higher uphill skier capacity 
-       Crystal Ridge Express, easier access to Crystal Zone trails and Blackcomb’s three glaciers 
-   $3 million snowmaking upgrade in Crystal Zone
-   Part of Mountain Collective giving 2 ski days at any of 6 resorts including Mammoth, Snowbird, Aspen/Snowmass, Jackson Hole and Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows 
-    PEAK 2 PEAK Viewing Gallery to see the world record technology
-   Two new Wonder Routes in Crystal Zone and Harmony Zone with ideal mix of steeps, glades and cruisers 

For this season’s deals and packages go to: www.whistlerblackcomb.com/deals_packages or call 1-888-403-4727. 

If you can’t get there before, how about a spring ski trip to tie in with the mega ski and snowboard festival held every April – this year Apr 11-21. Everything feasible for festivals has been combined there for huge audiences and great atmosphere. Think parties; free outdoor après ski concerts on massive stages with every genre of music; freestyle extravaganzas; backcountry tours, gear demos, art exhibitions, film premieres, fashion and photography events - and of course fabulous spring skiing.


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