VAIL RESORTS BUYS WHISTLER BLACKCOMB
In August 2016, U.S.-based Vail Resorts announced a deal to purchase Whistler Blackcomb (WB) for $1.4 billion CAD. The deal, which closed in October, makes North America’s top-rated, year-round resort part of a much larger “family” that also includes Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone ski areas in Colorado, as well as Northstar at Lake Tahoe, Kirkwood Mountain and Heavenly Ski Resort near the California-Nevada border.
When the deal was announced, Vail Resorts officials said the deal would have minimal impact on the Whistler resort experience and that the company fully supported WB’s Renaissance project. Announced in April 2016, Renaissance is to include a four-season, indoor adventure centre, on- mountain facility and summertime trail upgrades.
For skiers and snowboarders, the greatest impact is WB passholders’ inclusion in Vail Resorts’ “Epic Pass” program. For the 2016-’17 season, WB full-season ticketholders will receive five complimentary days at any of 13 U.S. mountain resorts this winter, while U.S.-based Epic Pass holders are eligible for a reciprocal five days of skiing in Whistler. The season pass situation for 2017-’18 and beyond is to be announced in March 2017. whistlerblackcomb.com
CONNECTING KIDS WITH ART
Connecting young people with art is a big part of the mandate of Whistler’s Audain Art Museum. Since opening in March 2016, the museum has already wowed thousands of visitors with its permanent collection of British Columbia’s First Nations and non-First Nations artists, and extensive collection of work by famed B.C. artist Emily Carr.
Michael Audain, the Vancouver-based art collector who founded the museum, has long been a believer in helping youngsters connect with art. “Michael has always talked about how, when he was young, he would go to the Royal B.C. Museum to see Emily Carr’s work. He remembers being kind of scared by it, but also inspired by it,” said Erin Edwards, the museum’s education and volunteer manager.
The Family Studio Sunday program, geared toward kids 12 and under and their families, engages participants in hands- on art projects inspired by works in the museum’s collection. For example, for the project entitled “Snowscapes,” young guests might be shown winter-themed works such as Gordon Smith’s “Winterscape,” then invited to create a snow- filled scene of their own, Edwards said.
Kids Konnect Tours are 30-minute tours that aim to help kids connect with works in the museum’s permanent collection through activities and games that help bring the artwork to life.
These programs are offered on set dates from Nov. 19 to March 18. Those 16 and under are admitted free with an adult admission or museum membership. audainartmuseum.com
SPEARHEADING THE FUTURE
Photo Tobin Seagel
Those who love to recreate in Whistler’s backcountry rejoiced last winter at the news that B.C. Parks approved a Park Use Permit for three backcountry huts known collectively as the Spearhead Huts Project. Once completed, the huts — at Russet Lake, Mount Pattison and Mount Macbeth — will make completing the 35-kilometre route known as the Spearhead Traverse in Garibaldi Provincial Park safer and easier. They will also help reduce the environmental impact of recreational activity in winter and summer.
First completed in 1964, The Spearhead Traverse currently attracts about 5,000 visitors annually. The first hut, at Russet Lake, will replace aging Himmelsbach Hut. New huts will be built at Mount Pattison and Mount Macbeth, with all funding raised through donations. Site investigations have been done at Russet Lake and construction is planned for summer 2017, with completion by the spring of 2018, says Jayson Faulkner, chair of the Spearhead Huts Committee. The plan is for the Alpine Club of Canada’s Whistler and Vancouver section to oversee operation and maintenance of the huts.
About $3 million still needs to be raised for the Mount Pattison and Mount Macbeth huts, Faulkner says. “Our goal was always to build them in subsequent order.” He continues, “Volunteers have put in thousands of hours over the years to make this happen.” spearheadhuts.org
LOCAL LINGO: WHICH ‘VILLAGE’ IS WHICH?
The term “Whistler Village” is sometimes used by visitors to refer to the entire resort community. But once you’re here, it’s important to narrow things down a bit, as different terms refer to different places.
Whistler Village, or just The Village, refers to the area along the main Village Stroll, from the base of Whistler Mountain to Whistler’s Marketplace. It’s divided into the Village Centre (south of the pedestrian bridge over Village Gate Boulevard) and Village North (north of the bridge).
The Upper Village is the smaller pedestrian commercial stroll linking the Fairmont Chateau Whistler and the Blackcomb Daylodge, at the base of the Wizard chairlift. It’s accessed from Whistler Village via the Fitzsimmons Trail that passes between Day Skier Lots 1 and 2 and over Fitzsimmons Creek.
Initially called Franz’s Trail (named for Whistler Mountain founder Franz Wilhelmsen), the commercial area at Creekside, four kilometres south of Whistler Village, is now more commonly referred to as Creekside Village, and has a unique blend of shops and eateries.
In 2016, municipal officials launched a wayfinding program with some 200 new directional signs. “The signage will help people get around Whistler and find some of the hidden gems, as well as the many popular sites throughout the community,” Mayor Nancy Wilhelm Morden said.
‘APRÈS-SKI’ TAKES ON NEW MEANING
Story by Rebecca Wood Barrett
Where do old skis and snowboards go to die? Are they buried in your garage? Dumped in the landfill? Next time you retire your planks, show the mountains some enviro-love and send them to Ski Heaven. Local entrepreneur Randi Kruse, owner of Ski Heaven, works with a team of Whistler artists to re-purpose discarded skis and snowboards into unique, original art.
“Skis will never decompose because the materials are so densely manufactured,” says Kruse. “Recycling isn’t possible, so instead we ‘upcycle’ and create something entirely new from the skis.” Ski Heaven also gives you a chance to celebrate precious mountain memories by bringing those stories into your home. Seasons of glorious turns can live again in a functional wine rack, snowflake wall art, mountain-themed coat rack, custom artwork, corporate memento and much more.
Photo Ski Heaven