SNOW­BOUND AD­VEN­TURES

“Ad­ven­ture is worth­while in it­self.” — Amelia Earhart

Whistler Traveller Magazine - - CONTENT - STORY BY DAVID BURKE

Win­ter Fun

When the snow de­scends on Whistler, it’s a mag­i­cal place. That ap­plies just as much to the myr­iad win­ter­time ex­pe­ri­ences avail­able out­doors, on and off the moun­tains, as it does to the twin­kling lights, cul­tural and culi­nary ex­pe­ri­ences and pul­sat­ing nightlife to be found in Whistler Vil­lage. Whether you are a first-time or sea­soned vis­i­tor, you don’t have to be a hard­core skier or snow­boarder to have a good time here. Com­bine both out­door and in­door pur­suits, find a bal­ance be­tween ad­ven­ture and re­lax­ation, and you’ve got the per­fect win­ter­time get­away. What fol­lows is just a brief se­lec­tion of the win­ter­time ad­ven­tures avail­able on your visit to North Amer­ica’s No. 1 year­round re­sort.

Pow­der Heaven

If you want to ex­pe­ri­ence the back­coun­try pow­der ski­ing and snow­board­ing you’ve seen in those win­ter­time ad­ven­ture films, nu­mer­ous Whistler com­pa­nies of­fer a va­ri­ety of pow­der-fu­eled ex­pe­ri­ences for those with in­ter­me­di­ate- to ex­pert-level skills. To ac­cess the pow­dery slopes, you have two op­tions: he­li­copters or snow­cats, a.k.a. “Cats.” Whistler Heli-Ski­ing boasts ex­clu­sive rights to 432,000 acres of big-moun­tain ter­rain, with 475 runs in­clud­ing 173 glaciers, us­ing five- to ten-pas­sen­ger he­li­copters. Pow­der Moun­tain Heliski­ing and Catski­ing also of­fer a va­ri­ety of fresh-tracks ad­ven­tures. The com­pany spe­cial­izes in day trips, and semipri­vate and pri­vate pack­ages. Coast Range Heli Ad­ven­tures, owned and op­er­ated by Black­comb He­li­copters, of­fers heli-as­sisted back­coun­try ski drops in their 200,000+ acre ten­ure and cus­tom­ized heli-ski­ing through their op­er­at­ing heli ski part­ner, Whistler Heli-Ski­ing. If it’s Cat-as­sisted ski­ing you’re af­ter, both Pow­der Moun­tain and Black­comb Pow­der­cats have you cov­ered. Black­comb Pow­der­cats has a pri­vate ski area of 4,000+ acres and of­fers unlimited runs for a full day of un-tracked, back­coun­try pow­der ski­ing that you’ll long re­mem­ber. Visit whistler­he­liski­ing.com, black­com­b­catski­ing.com, or email info@black­com­bavi­a­tion.

Win­ter­time soli­tude

It’s not hard to imag­ine that when the poet Robert Frost penned his clas­sic “Stop­ping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” he might well have been on snow­shoes. In re­cent years, those seek­ing win­ter­time soli­tude have turned to snow­shoe­ing in in­creas­ing num­bers. Whistler, famed for its abun­dance of snow and eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble trails, has be­come a mecca for snow­shoers of all ages. The Cal­laghan Val­ley, 15 min­utes south of the Vil­lage, is the lo­ca­tion of Whistler Olympic Park, and of­fers 40+ kilo­me­tres of marked snow­shoe trails. Take your own equip­ment or rent snow­shoes and poles and strike out on your own. Cana­dian Wilder­ness Ad­ven­tures runs guided ex­cur­sions on what’s called The Medicine Trail, where you can learn the his­tory of the area and sam­ple heal­ing teas brewed with the lichens and other plants that grow along­side the path, as you ven­ture deep into the snow-laden for­est. Black­comb Snow­mo­bile of­fers a va­ri­ety of snow­shoe­ing tours, in­clud­ing a two-hour ex­cur­sion on the Trap­pers Trail around Lost Lake, near Whistler Vil­lage. Breathe in the cool moun­tain air as your guide pro­vides a primer on the Whistler area’s his­tory and First Na­tions tra­di­tions. You might even spot a snow­shoe hare, pine marten or an­other for­est-dwelling crit­ter! Visit cana­di­an­wilder­ness.com, black­comb­snow­mo­bile.com or whistler­sportle­ga­cies.com.

The Thrill of Tub­ing

What could be more Cana­dian than an af­ter­noon or evening spent tub­ing down an icy slope, shar­ing sto­ries of that last thrilling ride be­tween runs as you sip hot cho­co­late? Since 2005, Whistler Black­comb’s Coca Cola Tube Park has of­fered fam­i­lies this quin­tes­sen­tial win­ter­time ex­pe­ri­ence. The park in­cludes seven slid­ing lanes, six of which are around 1,000 feet (300 me­tres) long. The min­i­mum slid­ing age is three and min­i­mum height is 36 inches (91 cen­time­tres); tu­bers be­tween 36 and 41 inches (103 cm) tall use the Tots Mini Slide from the park’s half­way point. Park in Day Lots 6, 7 or 8, or ac­cess the park via a free ride on the Ex­cal­ibur Gon­dola from Whistler Vil­lage. Once there, a con­veyor lift next to the slid­ing lanes makes get­ting to the top quick and easy, and lanes are rated green, blue and black based on the run’s steep­ness. Win­ter cloth­ing, ski gog­gles and hel­mets are rec­om­mended. The park will be open daily from Dec. 10, 2016 to April 17, 2017, weather per­mit­ting. Visit whistlerblack­comb.com.

Olympic Plaza Fun

The 2010 Win­ter Olympics and Par­a­lympics left both last­ing mem­o­ries and en­dur­ing phys­i­cal lega­cies in the re­sort. Those look­ing for après-ski fam­ily fun can en­joy one of the most unique Games venues right in the heart of Whistler Vil­lage: Whistler Olympic Plaza. The plaza, near the Mar­ket­place in Vil­lage North, was the lo­ca­tion of the medal cer­e­monies for Whistler events dur­ing the 2010 Games. To­day, the plaza in­cludes one of Whistler’s most pho­tographed spots: the Olympic Rings. Af­ter the Games, the area next to the rings was de­vel­oped into a ter­raced park with an open, park-like square next to a cov­ered con­cert venue and state-of-the-art play­ground. In win­ter the stage and sur­round­ing area are con­verted into an out­door ice skat­ing rink com­plete with twin­kling lights and full sound sys­tem that of­fer a mag­i­cal win­ter­time ex­pe­ri­ence for the young and young at heart. Skat­ing, which is free (rentals avail­able), is planned daily start­ing Dec. 10, 2016, weather per­mit­ting. The open area serves the “Snow Zone,” where fam­i­lies can en­joy free slid­ing on man­made hills of snow of var­i­ous sizes. At “Fam­ily Après” on Mon­days and Wed­nes­days from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm start­ing Dec. 16, chil­dren can join in a va­ri­ety of fun, guided out­door ac­tiv­i­ties. Visit whistler.ca.

Mush­ing Magic

En­cour­ag­ing guests to get up close and per­sonal with the ea­ger crit­ters pow­er­ing them for­ward, dogsled tours of­fer a truly Cana­dian ex­pe­ri­ence — fol­low­ing the path of the Inuit, or the early Euro­pean ex­plor­ers, past the snowy moun­tain back­drop on sleds pulled by teams of eight. Pic­ture it: You’re glid­ing along a snow-cov­ered path through old-growth for­est, the sun glis­ten­ing off the snow as it slants through the trees. The only sounds you hear are the muffled sounds of the sled’s run­ners, the dogs’ pant­ing and the oc­ca­sional com­mand of your musher as he or she stands on the back of the sled’s run­ners. Be­fore the tour, guests have a chance to meet their af­fa­ble, en­er­getic canine sled-pullers. “Guests get to help set their team up, learn about the dogs, give them snacks,” says Craig Beat­tie, gen­eral man­ager of Cal­laghan Wilder­ness Ad­ven­tures, one of two com­pa­nies that of­fer dogsled tours in the beau­ti­ful Cal­laghan Val­ley. “A big por­tion of the fun comes down to in­ter­ac­tion with the dogs. I’ve been around the world for other tours and you don’t have nearly as much in­ter­ac­tion with the dogs. Th­ese ones are just so so­cial.” Tours of­ten in­clude a stop-off at a back­coun­try cabin for a hot cho­co­late and a snack, where you can share the ex­pe­ri­ence with your mush­ers, fel­low guests, and of course, your new canine friends. Visit cana­di­an­wilder­ness.com or black­comb­dogsled.com.

PHOTO BLACK­COMB CAT SKI­ING PHOTO JOERN ROHDE

PHO­TOS JOERN ROHDE

PHO­TOS JOERN ROHDE

PHO­TOS JOERN ROHDE

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