2.8.2019 – 2.11.2019 || Whistler | Canada
We touched down in Seattle, Washington right around lunch time where we met up with our friend, Jeremy, who just wrapped up three weeks of work in the States. Remember him from last year’s trip to Germany and Austria?! Seattle was having another unprecedented snow storm so we met him at the airport rental car center and got on the road as soon as possible since we had a four to five hour drive ahead of ourselves. The snow was just starting in the Seattle area and only lasted for the first hour or so of the drive. Here are some pictures from the backseat driver.
After about two hours of driving we reached the Canadian border and crossed via The Peace Arch Crossing also known as the Blaine crossing.
The drive from Vancouver to Whistler is a very scenic route along the Sea to Sky Highway (highway 99) and to some extent reminded me of the Pacific Coast Highway drive in California which I have yet to write about.
We checked into the Westin where we would be staying for the next three nights and then headed out to pick up our rental equipment. Loving Whistler already as the hotel is located in the super cute pedestrian only village and a five minute walk to pick up our rental equipment.
We rented skis, boots, poles, and helmets from Spicy Sports for three days of skiing. The Westin has a ski storage area so we planned to leave our equipment there which was pretty convenient as the hotel is steps away from the base of Whistler mountain and several gondolas/lifts.
I was so excited on the first day that I didn’t even realize I was wearing a sizing sticker on my helmet. It was unusually cold for Whistler (low of -2 Fahrenheit as you went up the mountain, high in the 20s towards the village) so it was key to cover your entire face up and to dress in layers.
This was only my fourth time skiing ever so I planned to take it really easy on the greens which are the beginner trails. My ski sherpa and I stuck to the Lower Olympic trail in the morning before taking on another challenge. Look at those views!
Feeling a little more confident than I did last year in Obergurgl, where I literally did the same two trails all day long for three days in a row, we headed further up Whistler mountain and explored the Papoose and Pony trails that then connect to the Lower Olympic trail. Gorgeous!
We planned to meet up with our friend who was on the intermediate and advanced trails but we ended up running into him halfway down the Pony trail at a mid-station lift. We skied together down Upper Whiskey Jack (a little too much for this beginner) and then grabbed lunch at the Chic Pea Hut on Whistler mountain.
After the first day, I managed to ski eight different trails and had a good sense of where to go and where not to go on Whistler mountain. Time for après-ski!
I was super excited to try Basalt wine bar and managed to secure a dinner reservation except we showed up a day early. Womp. Womp. We didn’t end up eating there this trip but it looked amazing so if you do try it out, let me know how it is!
There are a lot of restaurants and bars in the Whistler Village but the wait can be close to an hour on average without a reservation. It is a good idea to book reservations as far in advance as possible if you have specific restaurants in mind, and then remember which day you booked said reservation. The actual reservation I booked that night was much later in the evening so we took a moment to regroup and look for another option to refuel day the first day of skiing.
Day two on the mountain started with breakfast at Lift Coffee in the village. A very convenient location right outside of the Westin.
It was another frigid day on the mountain so gotta gear up before going outside in the “Arctic Outflow.”
I decided to start out on my own on Whistler mountain so that I could practice on the Lower Olympic until I was comfortable so the guys went out for the intermediate trails on Blackcomb mountain and we planned to regroup at 9:30 am.
One benefit of getting out there early when the lifts open at 8:30 am is that you have them to yourself! This sign was also a good reminder to always stay left and look for the easiest route to the village!
I didn’t see my husband at the designated meeting spot and when I found Jeremy he informed me that RJ might have hurt his knee or something along those lines. I thought he was kidding but that wasn’t the case. We went inside the Longhorn Saloon & Grill, which is located right at the base of Whistler mountain, and assessed the situation while enjoying some coffee (with Bailey’s). RJ went back to the hotel to rest while Jeremy and I cautiously went back out to the lower Blackcomb mountain side (Green Line to Village Run) trails before I returned to the hotel for lunch.
RJ planned to ice his knee and stay off of it for the afternoon so Jeremy and I continued skiing for a few more hours. With no real plan in mind I headed all the way up the Whistler Village gondola when I noticed there wasn’t a line at the gondola station. There were a few photo ops from the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics immediately upon exciting the gondola station so I took a few pictures while taking in the view.
I didn’t feel like skiing down at that point so I waited in line for the Peak to Peak gondola which connects Whistler mountain to Blackcomb mountain in about 11 minutes. It was a gorgeous ride and was only a little bit scary for someone who doesn’t like heights.
The whole way over I kept my eyes on the expert trails, which were the straight verticals going down the side of the mountain through the trees, and kept thinking those skiers are insane. Easiest routes all day long for me!
I wasn’t entirely sure if I was going to ski down the Blackcomb side or take the gondola back over to Whistler but after taking these pictures outside of the Rendezvous hut I ran back into Jeremy.
Taking pictures of taking pictures never gets old. Also, that view is amazing from Blackcomb mountain.
Jeremy convinced me to ski down the Expressway to Sunset Boulevard to Easy Out which is a beginner trail but not the easiest route, so it took some convincing and a lot of patience on his part. Good thing he had the Go Pro on to capture little kids whizzing by me and the top speed I managed to get at various points on this incredibly flat zigzag path that wrapped around the side of the mountain (pictured above in the peak to peak pictures). Check out that pizza action below.
We still had so far to go before getting back to the village. All in all I am glad I skied down but it took us nearly 45 minutes and was probably the longest I have skied?! It was time to check on RJ.
The Westin shuttle service is incredible and helped us navigate the various appointments at the Whistler Health Center and surrounding area to diagnose what happened out on the intermediate trail. A few hours later this guy learned he didn’t break anything but his knee was too swollen to diagnose any possible tear or further damage until we were back in the States and back home. He did secure a sweet pair of crutches and also a knee brace to help get him home the following evening.
We dined that evening fireside at the Westin where there was plenty of room to store his crutches next to the Veuve that was used as decoration?!
The third and final day on the mountain started with breakfast at Lift Coffee and then Jeremy and I spent a few more hours on the slopes before driving back to Seattle to catch a red eye back to Washington, D.C. Once again we had well groomed trails all to ourselves first thing in the morning.
We did a couple of laps on the Whistler side beginner trails before Jeremy headed off to Blackcomb mountain for some more challenging trails. I have only been to three ski resorts total but Whistler lived up to the reviews and all the hype as one of the best ski resorts in North America. I sure hope my other ski buddy is back to 100% soon so that we can plan our next shredding adventure!
Red eyes are the worst when everything goes as planned. After a six plus hour drive, most of it in ridiculous Seattle snow conditions, we learned that our 11:10 pm flight was delayed until 1:50 am because we were missing a crew member. The good news was that we were upgraded to first class, the bad news was that the plane returned to the gate at approximately 3:20 am and was delayed until 4 pm the following day.
We boarded the same plane over twelve hours later and were two of only seven passengers on a 737 airplane. It was bizarre and sort of creepy to fly on a nearly empty plane but it was comfortable for my injured travel companion and great photo ops for @champagneoneplanes.
There were some HIGHS and some LOWS on this trip but overall Whistler is a trip to remember for sure and one that I hope we can redo again to fully experience the mountains and restaurants that I planned to visit but didn’t get around to.
- If you need rentals (boots, skis, etc.) do some research ahead of time. Pricing is similar across the various companies (and there are many) so go with one that is closest to where you are staying to avoid having to carry your gear too far, or in our case carry 1.5 persons gear each on the return.
- Check to see if your hotel stores gear overnight.
- If you have an accident and aren’t able to ski the full time look into refund policies to see if you qualify for a lift pass refund or a rental refund if you return your unused rental equipment early.
- Make dinner reservations in advance and note the date/time to avoid arriving a day early like we did!
Where we stayed:
- The Westin Resort & Spa, Whistler
- Il Caminetto
- Lift Coffee Company – great spot, located right outside the Westin and steps away from the village gondola. We ended up eating here three times!
Question: What other tips do you have for Whistler?