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UBER COOL SKIING DOWN JERSEY WALL AT WHISTLERBLACKCOMB

Travel-Mommy: Trip to WhistlerBlackcomb By Guest Dad Blogger Andrew Keith

Some guys take an annual golf trip. Our thing is skiing. No offense, I like golfing, but there really isn’t anything more beautiful than standing at the top of a mountain looking straight down into a double-black bowl with 24 plus inches of powder snow. You just cannot get a feeling like that even from my best drive on a Par 5.

We started skiing early in my family. Dad was a racer so we were too. Having grown up in Southern Ontario, my brother and I get a little excited when we see a run that will take us more than 45 seconds to get down.  A couple of years ago, after each having years of family ski trips, my brother, a buddy and I decided we really had to get out skiing together on our own. Thus, began our Nothing-But-Skiing trips. Our criteria are pretty simple: Ski-Eat-Sleep-Ski.

This year we chose WhistlerBlackcomb, just outside Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. My brother had been there a few times already, and raved about it. We know enough to take his recommendation.  In addition, my brother’s son, is taking an after-school year working and skiing air and slope-style competitions. In his free time, he also makes some awesome ski videos. We figured we had a built-in mountain guide, so WhistlerBlackcomb was the natural choice for Spring 2013.

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OUR NEPHEW CATCHES AIR

WhistlerBlackcomb was one of the main resort hosts of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Having a Winter Olympics really requires work on behalf of the host venues. The great thing is that once the Olympics are over, the fabulous venue is still there, waiting to be used. The actual resort is Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain, side-by-side mountains with the village in the middle. And what a village it is: hotels, shops, food, lifts, all in close walking distance from each other.

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WHISTLERBLACOMB HOSTED THE 2010 WINTER OLYMPICS

Air Travel:

  • Since Vancouver is on the Pacific Coast of Canada it does take some time to travel  especially if you are coming from the East Coast. The good thing is that it has a very large, international airport and a lot of direct flights.
  • Once you are there you get to take the Sea-to-Sky highway with some truly breathtaking views all the way from Vancouver (on the water) to Whistler (up in the mountains).
  • You will have to navigate through parts of the Vancouver so try to arrive in the non-rush-hour periods if you can. The trip from the airport to the mountains takes a little over 2 hours. If you are lucky enough to have a sunny day, the view will be breathtaking.

Lodging and Lift Tickets:

  • My brother took care of the hotel and booked it directly through WhistlerBlackcomb. They have booking for all the hotels in the area and will get you a great deal.
  • As we are all men over 40 who may or may not snore, we realize that sharing rooms is not a good idea so we pursue three bedroom lodgings
  • My brother managed to book a great little place called Tantalus Lodge. Tantalus was actually built before the great Olympic building spree, but quite quaint with room for 6 and a pull out couch. As I said, we do not want to share rooms so I took the bunk beds and my travel mates both had single rooms. To soothe our weary bones, Tantalus also featured a wonderful heated outdoor pool and 2 hot tubs.  Like many of the village hotels it is just a walk away from the main village and the lifts.  It even has a shuttle which we found out on the first day only takes you about 200 yards up to the walkway to the lifts. The room itself has a kitchenette and dining table so getting your own food and eating in is a viable option.
  • Our hotel package came with lift tickets and a pass for breakfast buffet at the top of the Whistler gondola (very useful on powder days as you get an early ride up).

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Skiing Harmony Bowl

Ski Rentals and Ski School:

There are many ski rental places right in the Village which have equipment for all levels.  I think you could even rent clothes.  We used Affinity Sports and rented online ahead of time for a 20% discount.  They had the high-end powder monsters I was looking for and a large ski inventory.  We picked up our skis and were on the slopes in 20 minutes on the first morning.

  • We didn’t take lessons but they are easily booked on the WhistlerBlackcomb website.
  • Friends rave about the ski programs for the children and go back every year

Guy & Family Friendly Restaurants:

  • On our first night we were tired and looking for a quick meal of good comfort food.  We found both at Caramba in the village.  The pizza and pasta were quick and very good.  The rest of the menu looked excellent and was moderately priced
  • On our second night we went for the dinner experience of the Mongolie Grill.  You pick your own food and it is grilled on a huge flat metal wok as you watch and wait.   Your charge is based on the weight of your uncooked food so if you really fill up the bowl it could become expensive.
  • On the third night we felt like pizza.  My nephew came through with the great recommendation of Fat Tony’s Pizza.  This is where the locals go for inexpensive pizza and gyro-in-a-pita.  The cheeseburger pizza was excellent and their crust has sesame added which really is a great addition which I’ll try the next time I make pizza at home.
  • We bought breakfast and lunch on the mountain.  The food is very good but, like all ski resorts, quite expensive.  I had an Udon Soba bowl for lunch that was excellent and a great way to warm up on a cold day.  You certainly could bring your own in a backpack like many of the locals do.

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THE TOP OF BLACKCOMB MOUNTAIN

Unique Features:

  • From the village you to choose whether you go left, up Blackcomb, or right, up Whistler. Most people choose the Whistler gondola as it goes almost all the way up.  Historically if you wanted to switch from one mountain to the other you had to ski down to the village and go back up the other side.  This tended to suck because, especially in the spring, the top would be great winter conditions and the further you went down you would go through icy conditions and eventually in to wet spring conditions, and crowds, and gondola waits.
  • WhistlerBlackcomb came up with a very unique and perfect solution for those wanting to switch mountains without the long slow switch.  It is called the Peak-2-Peak and it is the highest gondola in the world (over 1,400 feet above the valley floor).  It takes you from the peak of Whistler, over the valley, to the peak of Blackcomb.  It truly is an amazing ride that spans over 2 miles on only 4 towers.
  • You can also skate, tube and ride the bobsled run.  We just enjoyed the skiing.
  • What is also unique about WhistlerBlackcomb is that, for such a large mountain, it starts so low to sea level.  Only 40 kilometers from the coast it can also be very wet at time.  Remember to bring wet weather gear just in case.

Ways to Save Cash-ola:

  • Definitely use the Whistler website and speak to the agents.  They really will help you get the best deals.
  • Book your ski equipment rentals online to save 20% and have them ready when you get there.
  • Get a room with a kitchenette and use it for breakfast and or dinner.  Pack a lunch in a backpack and take it up to the restaurant at the top of the gondola.
  • Walk a lot.  Everything is conveniently located and there is a very good local bus system.

What’s to like? What’s not to like?  We had a great time at Whistler.  If you want a huge resort with tons of great skiing, with an outstanding village in which everything (literally everything) is walking distance come try WhistlerBlackcomb.  The snow was really great this year.  Our 3 days of skiing only scratched the surface.

From my nephew I hear it can get a bit crowded on the weekends so do like we did if you can and arrive Sunday and leave on Thursday.  We find that sticking to off-days can really increase your time.  When you call your trips “Nothing-But-Skiing”, that’s what you’re going for.

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