Vancouver, BC – The Powderheadz.com team was able to attend a free Wax and Wine event at the semi-recently opened Downtown Vancouver location of North Vancouver’s based brand Arc’teryx on Decemeber 6, 2017. The season is off to a great start with all the local mountains opening way ahead of schedule. And this was definitely a good way to get our gear in order and peruse some of great Arc’teryx equipment at Canada’s largest store for the brand.
The staff was extremely helpful and the ski-techs were able to get through over 50 pairs of skis and snowboards while giving us demos on how to properly wax our equipment with Beaver Wax. Also, free beer! And prizes! (We didn’t win anything, boo.)
Whistler Blackcomb, BC – Snowboarding isn’t technically over at Whistler-Blackcomb Ski Resort. Although the regular season at Whistler ended on April 23rd and Blackcomb ended on May 22nd, you can still get some turns in at the Top of Blackcomb Mountain. After a couple of weeks to set up the Terrain Park, Hortsman Glacier opened on June 10th and plans to stay running until July 16th, 2017.
The park was built specifically to host a multitude of Ski and Snowboarding Camps throughout the short summer period. However, the Glacier is open to the public, albeit you should be advanced or expert rider to feel comfortable up there. There are two t-bars that give you access to two parks full of features (the top terrain park is closed off for the camps) and a couple of runs (The top half of Crystal Traverse and Blue Line). We were also able to ride down the Green Line from the Hortsman Hut back to Rendezvous at the end of the day to download back to the bottom of the mountain (which might not be the case as the summer continues). So if you’re desperate for snow like us, head to Whistler while you still can.
Tips and Tricks
Operating Hours are from 12PM to 3PM, weather permitting. Public upload begins at 11AM at the Wizard Express Chairlift that is at the base of Blackcomb Mountain. Only camps are allowed to load before then. Last upload for Skiers and Snowboarders are at 1:30PM.
Lift Ticket includes a shuttle bus to and from 7th Heaven and access to the public lane that includes some Terrain Park features. Other lanes are reserved for Glacier Camps.
You must be an advanced or expert skier/snowboarder to ride, no exceptions. You also need to be able to use a T-bar as there are no chairlifts working during this time.
Definitely recommend getting there as early as possible, because you have to ride the Wizard Express, Solar Coaster Express, wait for a shuttle bus to take you to 7th Heaven before you get to Hortsman Hut. It can take up to an hour to finally get to the top.
Bring Sunscreen. It get’s pretty bright and hot up there and you are exposed to sun for extended periods of time. Many people leave with sunburns because they aren’t prepared.
Because it’s hot up there, you won’t need to bring as much gear as you would on a regular winter day. You’ll probably still want to wear a long sleeve shirt so you don’t get a weird tan. That being said, wear a helmet and practice safe riding.
The 2015-2016 edition of El Niño has come to pass and La Niña has a 60 to 75% of making an appearance. And according to the NOAA, a pool of cold water is materializing in the Pacific Ocean below a shallow mass of warm surface water. La Niña is coming.
And if it does, the Pacific Northwest to Squaw Valley will see above average snowfall. There is already more concrete evidence as Whistler gets its first snowfall of the season (about 3cm). We should be seeing more action from La Niña in the late fall and through the winter. Some of the best Ski Resorts in North America will get the benefit of the larger than average snowfall:
Lake Louise, BC
Mt Baker, WA
Mt Bachelor, OR
Mt Hood, OR
Sun Valley, ID
Big Sky, MT
Jackson Hole, WY
Squaw Valley, CA
Lake Tahoe, NV
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A Bit of History
The last time La Niña mattered was during the 1998-1999 ski season, when Mt. Baker, WA received the most snow at any location during a single season. 1140 inches of powder dropped that winter, totaling 95 feet. It’s still a record that hasn’t been beaten. Hopefully we get somewhere close to that this year, if not beating it altogether. It will more than make up for the lackluster winter of 2014-2015 that the Pacific Northwest had experienced two years ago.
It is still to early to tell when La Niña will truly show up, but it something to keep in mind if you are planning on any major snowboarding trips. There is a possibility that some resorts will have enough snow coverage for the Thanksgiving weekend. Or perhaps by Christmas time. But forecasts this far out can be a little unpredictable. La Niña should reveal her true colors in the next couple of months. We at Powderheadz.com think you should hold off on buying those plane tickets until more time has passed.
Perhaps I’m writing all of this because I just needed an excuse to just to show this clip:
Soon your Epic Ski Pass gets you riding in the Great White North.
Vail Resorts Inc’s $1.4 Billion friendly takeover of Whistler Blackcomb aims at making skiing and snowboarding cheaper for everyone. The proprieter of 13 resorts across the world just added the biggest gem to its collection with Whistler and on Monday, August 8th, they entered into an agreement to acquire them. This makes Vail Resorts owner of half of the 10 busiest ski areas on the North American Continent with Whistler Blackcomb, Vail, and Breckenridge being the top 3.
This deal comes only months after the British Columbia Provincial government approved of Aquilini Investment Group’s plan to build a $3.5 billion Ski Resort in Garibaldi Park at Squamish, BC, which is about at 45 minute drive south of Whistler. Also, Vail Resorts plans on honoring Whistler’s $345 million investment plan, the Renaissance Project, to create more offerings of additional four-season, weather-independent activities to make Whistler Blackcomb a better, more expansive year-round resort.
And What It Mean’s for You.
For now? Nothing yet. As of right now, the Season Pass for Whistler Blackcomb is still valid for 2016/2017 and the current 2016/2017 Epic Pass from Vail Resorts (which includes Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Park City, etc. Visit www.snow.com for more info.) does not include access for Whistler Blackcomb. However, Vail Resorts has confirmed that the Epic Pass will include Whistler-Blackcomb for the 2017/2018 season and that it has no intention of drastically raising its rates for the very inclusive Epic Pass.
For reference, the Whistler Season Pass for 2017 is regularly priced at $2049.00 CAD while the Epic Pass for 2017 is priced at $809 USD. So come Winter 2017/2018, Americans will gain a giant resort for the taking and Canadians will see a drastic price drop to their season pass. Snow for Everyone!
Located two hours north of Vancouver in the spectacular Coast Mountains of British Columbia, Whistler Blackcomb is not just Canada’s favorite ski-resort, but according to 2016’s Telegraph Ultra AwardsandSki Magazine,the number 1 ski-resort of the world. There are two colossal mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb, connected with the longest continuous lift system, the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola, with a combined 8,171 acres of accessible terrain serviced by 37 lifts for skiers and riders across the world.
Also known as North America’s largest ski resort, these two massive mountains offer more than 200 marked trails that include perfectly groomed trails, secluded glades, powder-filled bowls, in-bounds back country riding, and wide-open glaciers available deep into the summer months. Freestyle Skiers and Snowboarders will find six terrain parks ranging from beginner to insane, including a 22 foot Super Pipe. Averaging 462 inches of snowfall each year, there’s something for everyone at Whistler Blackcomb.
How to Get There
The best way to get to Whistler is by flying into Vancouver International Airport (YVR), grabbing (renting) a car and driving through Downtown Vancouver, across the Lions Gate Bridge and onto the Sea to Sky Highway:
From Downtown Vancouver to Whistler usually takes around 1.5 to 2hrs by car, depending on traffic. However, if you plan on going to Whistler just to see the sights, there are plenty of other stops along the way that you should definitely consider:
Horseshoe Bay – A quaint, picturesque waterfront village on the North Shore that is home to the Horsehoe Bay Ferry Terminal, which gets you to How Sound, the Sunshine Coast, and Vancouver Island.
Britannia Mining Museum – A former copper mine in Howe Sound that has been converted into a museum that preserves the history of British Columbia’s Mining Industry.
Shannon Falls – The third highest falls in BC composed of a series of cliffs rising 335 meters above Highway 99.
Squamish – Considered the halfway point between Downtown Vancouver and Whistler and is known as the Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada.
Alice Lake – This Provincial Park is a group of four lakes surrounded by towering mountains, dense forests and grassy areas.
Tantalus Lookout – One of the most spectacular viewpoints along the Sea to Sky Highway.
Brandywine Falls – A 70 meter waterfall and park that provides opportunities for picnics, hiking, and mountain biking.
For those without a car, Whistler offers a shuttle bus that can pick you up from either Vancouver International Airport or Downtown Vancouver.
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Tips and Tricks
Whistler Blackcomb opens on 11.24.2016. Whistler’s Last Day is 04.23.2017. Blackcomb’s Last Day is 05.22.2017. You can find more detailed hours of operations here.
Whistler Blackcomb can get pretty busy. If you want to go riding as soon as possible, the fastest way up the mountain is by taking the Excalibur Gondola and not the Whistler Village Gondola. If you get bored of riding Blackcomb, it’s quicker to take the Peak 2 Peak Gondola instead of riding back down to the Village.
Whistler is known as the Family Friendly Mountain and is often the busiest. Blackcomb is the quieter mountain and is more tailored to seasoned vets. If you’re a beginner, stick to Whistler. If you’re intermediate to advanced, head to Blackcomb.
Accommodations at Whistler Village can be quite expensive during the Peak Holiday Season. With Whistler being less than 2 hours away from Vancouver or 1 hour away from Squamish, it’s often better to find lodging there and waking up earlier to drive up to the mountain and back. Parking at the Day Lots is around $8 a day and is only about a 10 minute walk to the Lifts in the Village.
If you’re from Canada, Oregon State, or Washington State, purchase the 3 or 5 Day Edge Card if you plan on spending a long weekend or even a week at Whistler Blackcomb. You can save up to $40 a day.
Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort: At a Glance
Nearest Major City
Whistler: 1,530 m (5,020 ft) Blackcomb: 1,565 m (5,133 ft)
Whistler: 2,182 m (7,160 ft) Blackcomb: 2,436 m (7,992 ft)
Creekside: 653 m (2,140 ft) Village: 675 m (2214 ft)