Top Lift: 2284m
Ski area: 3307 hectares of piste
Adult lift pass: CDN$391-591 for six days
In a Nutshell
Whistler is the leviathan of the North American ski scene – a big, dynamic and buzzing resort which attracts skiers from all over the globe. Some will find its size and popularity overwhelming. But for most the only drawback is the occasional bout of iffy weather.
Essential Advice for the Perfect Trip
Ski Whistler midweek, after fresh snow, and you’ll think it’s the best resort on the planet. Made up of two big mountains, it offers top-to-bottom skiing on both, and a dazzling variety of terrain. High Alpine bowls, open powder fields, wide groomers, and balls-to-the-wall terrain parks: you can ski them all in a single, 1500m descent. What’s more, you can pretty much see all that’s on offer in a one sweeping panorama of peaks, trees and trails. It’s a sight to make even the most jaded skier’s blood fizz.
But hit it when the weekend crowds are in town, and it’s raining and slushy on the lower slopes, and you’ll wonder what all the fuss is about. Whistler’s maritime climate, which brings sudden thaws as well as mighty snowstorms, is a mixed blessing. So too its proximity to the booming city of Vancouver. Sometimes, the negatives combine to produce a depressing double whammy – especially if you’re British and you’ve flown across eight time zones to get there.
So the question is – does it deserve its glittering reputation? On balance, yes. The town at the base of the slopes may be sprawling, but it also provides a great choice of bars, restaurants, and accommodation. The lift system is fast and efficient, and the addition of the Peak to Peak Gondola a few years back transformed the way you can ski the two mountains. The ski school is also one of the best we know. Yes, we’d always advise coming here in the middle of winter to maximise the chances of getting good snow conditions. And even so you must always be ready for a sudden thaw. But you could say the same of many of the resorts in the Alps. The fact remains that whenever someone tells us they’re off to ski Whistler, our eyes turn bright green with envy.