As a lifetime skier, there are mountain resorts I have heard about that make me foam at the mouth! To me Whistler and Aspen are those places. Yes, I have been fortunate enough to ski many of the big resorts in Europe and they are amazing but the Canadian and American resorts have always felt like the big daddies of the ski world. Aged 5 learning to ski in Queesntown, NZ.
So going up to Whistler in the Summer was a slight bummer but it gave me a taste of what resorts in Canada are like.
Fergus, Rosie, Yvonne and I got the train to the airport early in the morning and went to pick up what I thought was going to be a tiny 2 door car (that’s what I had booked) but they gave us a Jeep. Sweet!After a few wrong turns we were on our way, through the city, Stanley Park, over the Lions Gate Bridge and over to motorway 99.The motorway took us along the edge of the mountain, past the bay’s and islands of Horseshoe Bay and onwards up the side of Howe Sound. We stopped at Squamish for an A&W burger meal and to the supermarket to get some supplies for the afternoon. There is a rather impressive cliff called the Chief there that some people were climbing up! Just nuts! Heights are not my thing. As the mountains grew taller they also became more and more snow covered and from some parts of the windy but wide road we could see even higher snow and cloud covered peaks far into the distance.
As we arrived into Whistler Village we could see the gondolas and chairlifts climbing to the tops of the ski resorts and all the lovely mountain lodges and hotels in front of us. I made a mental note there and then that we should do a season here.Once there we got tickets for the Peak to Peak gondola and the girl at the ticket counter very helpfully advised us to walk to the Blackcomb chairlift and go up that way as the queues are a lot shorter. So off we went over the Blackcomb and jumped on the quad chairlift.
It was weird being on a chairlift without skis and all my ski clothes on but it was nice with the breeze blowing and the warm sun beating down on us. About halfway up the first chairlift a couple on a chair going down yelled over to us that there was a Black Bear up the hill a bit. Almost immediately we saw it sniffing around the grass and wild flowers. He wasn’t that big but I was glad I was above him and not in front! I was amazed I’d finally seen a Bear, I’d been watching out for them ever since we arrived on the West Coast. Very lucky!We hoped off at the top of that chair about halfway up the mountain and stopped for a few photos before carrying on up to the top. The views were incredible looking back over Whistler Village and over to the mountains beyond.
It was a bit cooler on the second chairlift but we got an even better view from the top of that one. There was a restaurant, hikes and the Peak to Peak Gondola station. We wandered around for a short while before (reluctantly for me) jumping on the big gondola. The Peak to Peak is the tallest and longest gondola of its kind. It’s not overly big compared to others I have been on in Europe but it has to be a bit lighter as a lot of the cable in the middle is unsupported! I didn’t want to look out the window or move around at first as I was terrified but after a few minutes I got over that and enjoyed the views which were utterly breathtaking. Once safely on Whistler mountain we wandered around the shops for a while before deciding to go right up the top of Whistler on the highest chairlift. I was cold already and it was no doubt going to get colder up the top where there was more snow and wind so Fergus bought me a The North Face Whistler hoodie which I absolutely LOVE!!We walked down the steep, dusty trail to the Peak Express chairlift that took us to the very top. It was quite scary as we were travelling high up over very steep rugged cliffs and Jaggered rocks and snow.Once up the top where it was quite chilly, we lined up to get a photo with the Ilanaaq the Inunnguaq, the 2010 Olympic Mascot.
Took a quick photo with the Olympic Rings before we got on the gondola all the way back down to Whistler Village. It was a nice spot to eat our very late lunch while watching the mountain bikers pass underneath us.
Once down we had a wander around town before heading out for a look at Hidden Lake. Sat there for a bit and watched people swimming, paddle boarding, tightrope walking, juggling, doing poi and relaxing. There were also all these tiny Toads migrating across the grass which was cute. A very lovely place.
On the way home Fergus and Rosie shared the driving while I managed the music. Listened to classic rock all the way back to the rental car company. Saw a lovely sunset over the bay’s on our way back.Got home and had dinner and a few glasses of wine before hitting the hay after an exhausting but wonderful day.