Why Don’t You

Why Don't You

Stories by David Burke
Whistler’s spectacular scenery is the backdrop for an exceptional variety of activities. Why don't you try some of these unforgettable Whistler experiences this winter? Experience Whistler’s easy access to the backcountry and get powder happy with a “bucket-list” heli-skiing adventure; fuel up for your ski or snowboard day with a fresh tracks mountaintop breakfast and beat the crowds onto the slopes; go downhill tubing at Whistler Blackcomb’s Coca-Cola Tube Park; shop local for that one-of-a-kind-gift at the Made In Whistler Market.

Fuel Up for Your Ski or Snowboard Day

What’s the best way to start an awesome day of skiing or riding? In Whistler, many locals and repeat guests say it’s with the Fresh Tracks Mountaintop Breakfast at the Roundhouse Lodge on Whistler Mountain.

Imagine arriving early, getting a head start on the crowds and admiring the sunrise as you ride the Whistler Gondola up to the 1,828-metre (6,000-foot) level. Then you sit down to a mountain-sized breakfast buffet feast, including hot and cold beverages, fresh fruit, yogurt, delectable bakery items, freshly prepared hot offerings and all the fixings in the cozy confines of a mountaintop lodge. Afterwards, when you hear the “runs are open” call, you and your posse can head out for first tracks in untouched powder or perfect corduroy groomed runs. There’s nothing more satisfying!

Access is limited to the first 650 ticketed guests to arrive at the Whistler Village Gondola base between 7:15 a.m. and 8 a.m., and the breakfast can sell out on busy days, especially when there has been fresh snow. Tickets should be purchased online but are not date-specific; so, they can be used any day.
Available daily Dec. 14, 2019 to April 5, 2020. whistlerblackcomb.com

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 W/B - Toshi Kawano
Get Powder Happy

For those who love their ‘pow,’ heli-skiing is the ultimate on-snow experience. Being dropped onto an isolated alpine slope to ski or snowboard alongside a guide and other powder hounds in knee-deep powder to the bottom is about as good as it gets.

“The first reaction from first-time heli-skiers is often the coolest,” says Mike Sadan, general manager of Whistler Heli-Skiing. “They are at the top of a mountain, somewhere out there … the helicopter has flown away, and they try to absorb the world they are now in.” He adds: “A ski vacation to Whistler offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go heli-skiing without having to make a weeklong commitment; most of our guests are first-timers. Having said that, if it’s not their first trip to Whistler, and they’ve heli-skied before, chances are they’ve turned into a repeat heli-skier, often requesting the guide they skied with last time.”

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Image courtesy Whistler Heli-Skiing
Whistler Heli-Skiing, which has been drawing rave reviews since 1981, has exclusive tenure to some 432,000 acres (50 times the size of Whistler Blackcomb) of breathtaking terrain and offers a variety of tours. The “Classic Experience” is three runs, and guests must have at least solid intermediate skiing or snowboarding skills. The “Elite Adventure” is four runs for advanced to expert level. The “Ultimate Excursion” is six runs and is for experts only. whistlerheliskiing.com
Powder Mountain Catskiing/Heliskiing offers tours using both helicopters and snowcats — tracked, all-terrain vehicles with cabins that can ferry up to 11 skiers or riders to the top of 4,000-foot powder runs. powdermountaincatskiing.com
Tyax Lodge and Heliskiing offer unparalleled heli-skiing over a vast amount of terrain in the South Chilcotin Mountains from its lodge near the small community of Gold Bridge, north of Pemberton. tyax.com
Go Downhill Tubing

Sliding downhill — fast! — on an icy path is the stuff of which childhood memories are made, and you don’t have to be a skier or snowboarder to enjoy that feeling. With a variety of runs ranging from gentle to expert, some with more than 1,000 feet of sliding bliss, Whistler Blackcomb’s Coca-Cola Tube Park at the Base 2 Zone on Blackcomb Mountain is a great place to feel the wind in your face as you careen headlong downhill on an overinflated rubber inner tube. After the run, ride the special conveyor back to the top as you decide which lane to tackle next. No previous experience is needed.

The entire park is fully lit in the early evening and has a great sound system, so it’s a great place to take the whole family for an hour or two of fun before dinner or warming up with a frothy mug of hot chocolate by the fire pit. Accessed from Whistler Village via a free ride on the Excalibur Gondola, the park is open weekdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and weekends and holidays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with special hours during the holidays. Children must be at least three years of age and a minimum of 36 inches (91 centimetres) tall; and those between 36 and 41 inches may enjoy the two children’s lanes from the halfway point.

Purchase tickets online a minimum of three days in advance to save up to 10 per cent or at the window for the regular rate. whistlerblackcomb.com

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Shop Local for That One-of-a-Kind Gift

If you are in search of a place to browse unique, locally made jewellery, pottery, fashion accessories and fine art and try specially prepared, artisanal food items, all while interacting with the folks who created them, look no further than the Made in Whistler Market.

Co-managers Linda Davies and Carmen Craig Martin describe the market as a “small and carefully curated ‘Table Market’,” and say Made in Whistler “presents an opportunity for artists from the Sea to Sky area to introduce their work to both our visitors and local Whistler residents.”

Now in its eighth year, the market, located at the Westin Resort & Spa’s Level 1, is the place to shop for that special souvenir or gift. Endorsed by Arts Whistler, the list of market vendors includes a dizzying array of talented artisans, showcasing their unique offerings from ceramics and one-of-a-kind jewellery to photography and delectable treats. Each market this season will feature the “Artisanal Experience,” which is a chance for guests to “enjoy an instructive experience in jewellery, knitting and weaving and a particularly yummy class in cookie decorating,” organizers say.

The market runs Sundays from Dec. 15 to March 29 (with additional dates on Dec. 23 and 28) from noon to 5 p.m. For details, including profiles of the vendors and their offerings, visit madeinwhistlermarket.com or follow them at facebook.com/madeinwhistlermarket.

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