PHOTO WHISTLER BUNGEE / JAMES CATTANACH
While Whistler has epic scenery, luxurious spas and first-class dining, many visitors don’t come here solely with the intention of relaxing or being pampered. Whistler was born out of a spirit of adventure, and if you’re looking to push your limits with some truly challenging and exciting activities, you’re in the right place.
From bobsleighing down the 2010 Olympic track to bungee jumping above the Cheakamus River, Whistler offers adrenaline junkies plenty of chances to make their hearts pound and fill their social media platforms with impressive images and tales of adventure. To help in that endeavour, we’ve narrowed it down to a shortlist of Whistler’s wildest experiences so you can skip the slow, safe and sanitized activities and get some serious thrills!
The skiable terrain at Whistler Blackcomb contains some challenging areas and obstacles, and if you’re looking to push your comfort zone, check out Extremely Canadian’s Steeps Clinics. With the help of a professional guide, advanced- or expert-level skiers can enjoy skiing some of the resort’s steepest slopes and alpine zones.
Extremely Canadian’s owner and operator, Peter Smart, says Whistler Blackcomb offers no shortage of extreme in-bounds terrain including couloirs, cornices and chutes. “They [expert skiers] want to … ski steep entrances, and either learn how to navigate them without getting their feet off the ground or learn how to dominate them,” says Smart.
Those looking for technical instruction should opt for the two-day package, but if you just want a shortcut to hair-raising terrain, the one-day tour will get you to the goods.
Some people would literally jump off a bridge just to get a thrill. If you’re one of those types, Whistler Bungee will happily oblige! Their scenic location allows guests to stroll out onto their bridge, then leap off and freefall 50 metres (160 feet) over the Cheakamus River. If you’re not sure whether you are able to jump, just ask — Whistler Bungee has roped-up some surprisingly young and elderly jumpers, not to mention several wheelchair users. Regardless of weather, visitors can jump year-round.
If twisting the throttle on a 900-cc snowmobile is your cup of tea, Canadian Wilderness Adventures offers two tours that will challenge advanced-level “sledders” on Whistler’s surrounding mountains. Their Backcountry X tour treats guests to a half day of guided exploration in powder-filled alpine zones, and includes an introduction to avalanche safety. The Powderhound tour is a full-day excursion, taking guests into the Callaghan Valley to hone essential backcountry skills such as powder turns, sidehilling and hill climbing. The tours won’t have you loping around groomed trails at limited speeds; they’re your chance to explore and develop advanced riding techniques in real mountain terrain.
Got a need for speed? How does flying down the world’s fastest track at more than 125 kilometres (78 miles) per hour sound? It may sound unbelievable, but the Whistler Sliding Centre allows members of the public to experience sliding the track in a four-man bobsleigh (bobsled in the U.S. and some parts of Canada) or even go solo on a skeleton sled. Bobsleighs are driven by trained pilots who guide guests down the track, generating up to four Gs of acceleration while zipping around 10 corners. Skeleton riders start lower down but get two electrifying runs on the track, winding around six corners at speeds of up to 100 km/h (62 mph).
“Skeleton is generally perceived as ‘scarier’ than bobsleigh, because people slide down the track alone on their own sled,” says Tracy Seitz, the Whistler Sliding Centre’s managing director. “The exhilaration and confidence that people get after their first run is so amazing that, for the second one, they usually get very competitive, want to go faster and just enjoy the ride.” No previous experience is necessary, only a thirst for high-speed excitement! Visit whistlerslidingcentre.com.
One of Whistler’s best-known outdoor attractions is Ziptrek’s zipline tours. It might not sound too extreme, but Ziptrek’s Eagle Tour finishes with a 732 m (2,400-ft.) line that descends 30 storeys down the mountainside! Four other ziplines lead you to the big finale, sending you flying over Fitzsimmons Creek between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. The 2.5- to three-hour tour also leads guests over four treetop bridges and viewing platforms that provide outstanding vistas of the surrounding mountains.
If you’re planning to visit Whistler in the summertime be sure to check out Ziptrek’s massive Sasquatch line, which allows guests to fly all the way from Blackcomb over to Whistler Mountain. Spanning more than 2 km at heights of more than 183 m (600 ft.), the Sasquatch is the longest zipline in North America. Visit whistler.ziptrek.com.
To challenge both your muscles and your mind, Mountain Skills Academy offers guided ice climbing tours on Blackcomb Mountain. Anyone with moderate fitness can try ice climbing for the first time, but more experienced climbers will get to tackle more difficult routes matched to their abilities. With the help of a certified mountain guide, guests will learn how to scale walls of blue ice with ice axes and crampons. Participants must be able to ski or snowboard at an intermediate level, as the climbing terrain is accessed from Blackcomb’s alpine area. For those seeking a true challenge, multi-pitch and multi-day ice climbing tours are also available.
After tackling any of these exciting and challenging activities, you’ll surely raise some eyebrows when your friends ask what you did during your vacation in Whistler. The best part is, after you’ve tapped your adrenal glands dry, there’s still time to enjoy the superb dining, spas and the scenery as you wind down from an action-packed day.