Nov 06, 2008
Just a decade old and still growing, Kicking Horse has been called “mini-Alaska” for good reason.
The ridgelines are ragged. The runs are long and unbroken.
Ride the Red chair to the top of Red Mountain, site of western Canada’s first chairlift, opened in 1947.
We were skinning up to ski Blackcomb Peak’s DOA— a 1,000-vertical-foot chute that maxes out at 50 degrees—digging the spring corn far too much to make our business meeting on time. My partner plucked a phone from his pocket. “Bad news, Amber,” he fi bbed. “We ran into this Brit up on Spanky’s Ladder who was in way over his head. Looks like we’re going to be a bit late.” Amber, who works for WB, understood. She hears stories like this all the time. Who wants to talk shop when there’s 8,000 acres of world-class terrain, from high-alpine glaciers to giant hemlock forests, spread across two mountains plastered by a stable maritime snowpack? After plundering DOA, we fi nally made it to the GLC, Whistler’s best après patio, where Amber and beers were waiting for us.
Powder Day: When the dust from the dynamite settles, load the Harmony chair and lap 40-degree chutes lined with 20- to 40-foot cliff bands in Camel Back while you wait for the Peak chair to open. (It accesses Whistler’s hairiest terrain.)
Three Days Later: The locals mine every inch of Whistler, so be resourceful. From the Peak chair, head to Shale Slope Ridge and drop left for airy tree stashes in the VD Chutes. Stay high skier’s right for max freshness before exiting to lower Grand Finale.
Park and Pipe: The Habitat Terrain Park is more than 1,100 feet long, drops 600-plus vertical, and features two playgrounds in one: Chipmunk has smaller hits and rails, while Bobcat has 20-plus big-daddy boxes and rails.
Backcountry Access: Buy a one-way ticket (C$36) up the Peak chair and follow Burnt Stew to the Oboe gate. Dive into 1,700-foot, 35-degree lines or keep heading north to the 30-foot cliff bands off Cowboy Ridge. (Check avalanche.ca for info.)
Weather: Come in January, when cold air collides with moisture off the Pacific, creating record- breaking storms like the one last January that crushed Whistler’s 25-year record with 185 inches.
Après: Hang with the beautiful people at Dusty’s for beer-hosing and martinis with fancy fruit, or hit the Garibaldi Lift Company, above the Whistler Gondola. Kokanees cost C$6 a pint.
Fuel: Grab coffee at Moguls and head up the first gondola. At noon, stop by the Expressway, in the Roundhouse Lodge, for a fat Italian platter (C$10) and a sleeve of Canadian brews.
Up All Night: One half designer-drink bar, one half disco-rock cellar, the Savage Beagle (604-938-3337) is Whistler’s original club. Stop by for cosmos and dance-floor gyrations.
Digs: For deep beds and a heated pool try the Crystal Lodge, just stumbling distance from the Crystal Lounge, a favorite watering hole for grizzled locals (C$214–C$398; crystal-lodge.com).