Downhill Skiing & Snowboarding
Your ski pass gives you access to both Blackcomb and Whistler mountains (tel. 800/766-0449; www.whistlerblackcomb.com), as well as the Peak to Peak Gondola—the longest in the world—that links the two mountains. Whistler is generally considered better for beginngers and middle-range skiers, while steeper Blackcomb is geared to the experienced. Whistler Mountain has more than 1,500m (5,000 ft.) of vertical (and more than 100 marked runs) serviced by two high-speed gondolas and seven high-speed chairlifts, plus 10 other lifts and tows. Helicopter service from the top of the mountain provides access to nearly 500 runs on nearby glaciers. The peak has cafeterias, gift shops, and a restaurant. Blackcomb Mountain has more than 1,600m (5,300 ft.) of vertical (and more than 100 marked runs) serviced by one high-speed gondola, nine high-speed chairlifts, plus seven other lifts and tows. The cafeteria, restaurant, and gift shop aren't far from the peak. Both mountains also have bowls and glade skiing, with Blackcomb Mountain offering glacier skiing well into July. Family-friendly Tube Park, located at Base II on Blackcomb, offers a 300m (1,000-ft.) run with eight lanes, accessed by a carpet-style lift. Winter lift tickets are C$109 adults, C$93 seniors and children 13 to 18, C$55 children 7 to 12, and free for children 6 and under. Depending on weather conditions, lifts operate daily noon to 6pm. Note:You can save about 20 percent on your multiday lift tickets by booking online. You can also rent ski and snowboard gear at the base of both Whistler and Blackcomb just prior to purchasing your lift pass.
The Speahead Traverse, which starts at Whistler and finishes at Blackcomb, is a well-marked backcountry route that has become a local classic. Garibaldi Provincial Park maintains marked backcountry trails at Diamond Head, with additional trails at Singing Pass, and Garibaldi Lake. These are ungroomed and unpatrolled rugged trails, and you have to be at least an intermediate skier and bring (and know how to use) appropriate clothing and avalanche gear. Several access points to the trails are along Hwy. 99 between Squamish and Whistler. If you're not sure of yourself off-piste, hire a guide through Whistler Alpine Guides Bureau (tel. 604/938-9242; www.whistlerguides.com).
Well-marked, fully groomed cross-country trails run throughout the area. The 30km (20 miles) of easy-to-very-difficult marked trails at Lost Lake start a block away from the Blackcomb Mountain parking lot. Passes are C$20 per day. Contact Lost Lake Cross Country Connection (tel. 604/905-0071; www.crosscountryconnection.ca). Whistler Olympic Park (.tel. 877/764-2455 or 604/964-0060; www.whistlerolympicpark.com) in the Callaghan Valley hosted Nordic events during the Winter Games and has more than 90km (55 miles) of groomed cross-country trails. Day passes cost C$24 for adults. The Valley Trail System in the village becomes a well-marked (and free) cross-country ski trail during winter.
For intermediate and advanced skiers who can't get enough fresh powder on the regular slopes, there's always heli-skiing. Whistler Heli-Skiing (tel. 888/435-4754 or 604/905-3337; www.whistlerheliskiing.com) offers a three-run day, with 1,400-2,300m (4,600-7,500 ft.) of vertical helicopter lift, for C$930 per person. Longer trips are available.
Snowcat Skiing & Boarding
Lifts and choppers aren't the only way up a mountain. Powder Mountain Catskiing (tel. 877/PWDRFIX [793-7347] or 604/932-0169; www.powdermountaincatskiing.com) uses snowcats to climb up into a private skiing area south of Whistler where skiers and boarders will find 1,740 skiable hectares (4,300 acres) on two mountains. The price, C$499 per person, pays for a full day of skiing, usually six to ten runs down 2,100 to 3,000 vertical meters (6,890-9,942 ft.) of untracked powder, plus transport to/from Whistler, breakfast, lunch, and guides.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.