UP­GRAD­ING THE MOUN­TAIN HIK­ING EX­PE­RI­ENCE

Ex­plor­ing Whistler Black­comb’s Trails

Whistler Traveller Magazine - - TRAVELLER I CONTENT - STORY BY STEVE FISHER

It’s amaz­ing how en­joy­able a sim­ple walk through the woods can be, let alone the ex­pe­ri­ence of ex­plor­ing the unique ter­rain found high in the moun­tains. With more than 50 kilo­me­tres of hik­ing trails on the two moun­tains, Whistler Black­comb ( WB) in­vites guests of all abil­i­ties to im­merse them­selves in the wilder­ness.

A host of im­prove­ments and up­grades is planned for the alpine trail net­work in 2017. This sum­mer, hik­ers will see widen­ing and re-sur­fac­ing on WB’s most pop­u­lar routes, and the mid-sum­mer com­ple­tion of Black­comb’s As­cent Trails. On Whistler Moun­tain, trail users will get a peek at an ex­cit­ing new project as con­struc­tion be­gins on a sus­pen­sion bridge and view­ing plat­form that prom­ises in­cred­i­ble views over the Whistler Val­ley.

In the Sea to Sky Cor­ri­dor, up­hill “fit­ness” trails are grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity as hik­ers dis­cover that grind­ing up­wards pro­vides a great work­out, but rid­ing down on a lift saves your body the rigours of descend­ing steep ter­rain. Black­comb’s As­cent Trails were planned for com­ple­tion by mid-sum­mer, lead­ing hik­ers all the way from the val­ley floor to the alpine. Last sum­mer, hik­ers could reach the top of the Wizard Chair via two lower trails called Lit­tle Burn and Big Burn. A new up­per sec­tion named Heart Burn was set to open in early July, link­ing Big Burn right up to the Ren­dezvous Lodge.

In map­ping th­ese routes, WB of­fi­cials made it a pri­or­ity to en­sure guests can en­joy an en­gag­ing wilder­ness ex­pe­ri­ence. Once com­plete, Black­comb’s As­cent Trails will wind through two old-growth forests, and fea­ture in­for­ma­tional dis­plays to ed­u­cate hik­ers about the lo­cal ge­ol­ogy, flora and fauna.

“We did ev­ery­thing in our trail lay­out to give peo­ple the sense of be­ing com­pletely em­bed­ded in na­ture, and not near any ski area in­fra­struc­ture,” says Arthur DeJong, WB’s moun­tain plan­ning and en­vi­ron­men­tal resource man­ager.

To fur­ther en­cour­age fit­ness-minded hik­ers, WB is mov­ing the timed hik­ing sec­tions to three new check­points on the As­cent Trails — the en­trance to Lit­tle Burn, the exit of Big Burn, and the exit of Heart Burn. Although it’ll only be a sneak peek this year, high atop Whistler Moun­tain, con­struc­tion will be­gin on a sus­pen­sion bridge and view­ing plat­form over­look­ing Whistler Bowl.

“Your views­cape will be of the Whistler Val­ley, [look­ing south] out to­wards the Cal­laghan (and) Brandy­wine. And you’ll be able to look north to­wards Mount Cur­rie. We’ve in­ves­ti­gated our en­tire alpine and noth­ing fits like that lo­ca­tion,” ex­plains DeJong. “It’s on Whistler’s rooftop.”

“We did ev­ery­thing in our trail lay­out to give peo­ple the sense of be­ing com­pletely em­bed­ded in na­ture.”

The Peak Sus­pen­sion Bridge will be roughly 130 me­tres (425 feet) long, and will stretch from the Peak Chair off­load area to a view­ing plat­form on the West Face peak. The bridge and plat­form are ex­pected to be fin­ished be­fore snow­fall, and ready for hik­ers to en­joy next sum­mer.

While the sim­plic­ity of hik­ing is at­trac­tive to many out­door en­thu­si­asts, Whistler Black­comb is en­hanc­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence with eco­log­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion, fit­ness chal­lenges and breath­tak­ing viewpoints. Whether you’re rac­ing your friends up Black­comb or ca­su­ally strolling a short loop, Whistler is a beau­ti­ful place to “take a hike!”

For more in­for­ma­tion, visit whistlerblack­comb.com.

PHOTO W/B - ROBIN O’NEIL

PHOTO JOERN ROHDE

PHOTO W/B - ROBIN O’NEIL

PHOTO JOERN ROHDE

PHOTO W/B - MITCH WINTON

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