More than just the slopes to con­sider

Vancouver Sun - - NEWS - FIONA MORROW

Those dis­tant Vik­ing links in my Scot­tish an­ces­try are show­ing: I may not have a ham­mer in my hand, (it’s an axe) but right now I am the fe­male Thor.

I lift the axe over and be­hind my head, step­ping for­ward, I hurl it at the tar­get. I’m re­warded with a sat­is­fy­ing thwack.

In re­al­ity I’m a to­tally non-sporty menopausal woman who has plenty of pent-up ag­gres­sion just look­ing for an op­por­tu­nity to be re­leased. And I played a lot of darts in my stu­dent days.

This last point serves me well when it comes to throw­ing an axe it turns out. Af­ter a few wob­bly at­tempts un­der the guid­ance of my in­struc­tor, Rich, I am throw­ing clean and straight. Soon, the blade is hit­ting the cen­tral axis on each throw, and yes, I do even­tu­ally score a bulls­eye or three.

I think Rich is gen­uinely im­pressed. More im­por­tantly, I’m hav­ing fun — some­thing I did not ex­pect when I walked into Forged Axe in Func­tion Junc­tion, a short drive from Whistler Vil­lage.

I’ve spent my fair share of wet Whistler week­ends won­der­ing what on Earth to do while the down­hill rac­ers of my fam­ily get their pow­der on.

I’m not a shop­per at the best of times, even when the stores are full of tourist tat, sports gear, or eye-wa­ter­ingly ex­pen­sive de­signer garb. And so it is that on a hunt for more di­ver­sion than the ad­mit­tedly per­fectly ac­cept­able “hole up in a ho­tel room with a good book” op­tion, I find my­self get­ting my Boudicca fully on with two plaid­shirted men.

I’m on va­ca­tion and ready to day-drink, so I sign my­self up for the new craft beer tour in the vil­lage. Though I’d imag­ined a rowdy bunch of bearded boys or tiara-be­decked stagette crowd fill­ing the ranks, our guide, Brit­tney, says that the tour (new this sea­son) is draw­ing cou­ples and is prov­ing most pop­u­lar with women fly­ing solo. And why not?

The pub crawl in­cludes vis­it­ing four Whistler es­tab­lish­ments learn­ing — and tast­ing — be­tween 16 to 20 B.C. craft ales.

By the time we’re munch­ing the very nec­es­sary ap­pys pro­vided at stop three, our small group is mer­rily be­com­ing fast friends and I’m down­ing the de­li­cious Marzen Am­ber lager from Bomber Brew­ing en route to do­ing the same with a cof­fee-in­fused stout from Fug­gles & War­lock.

I top off a great day with a great drink at the Mallard Lounge in the Chateau Fair­mont Whistler. From the new sea­sonal menu, I plump for a 1977, with ac­ti­vated char­coal and a rather con­cern­ing Dubon­net foam. My doubts are un­founded: this smart twist on a New York sour (a whisky sour with a red wine float) is built from Booker’s Bour­bon, the Dubon­net whipped into a sen­sual, pink soft-serve swirl.

By the time I stand be­fore Glo­ria Tamerr Pet­yarr’s Leaves, I find my­self en­gulfed with emo­tion at its un­du­lat­ing power.

Morn­ing comes and the moun­tains glis­ten in sun­light — my cue to grab a sight­see­ing ticket and head for the gon­dola.

I may not ski, but I do love be­ing up where the air is fresh and clear and I want to check out the new Um­brella Bar. Hid­den be­hind the Round­house Lodge (walk through the food court and out the other side), the heated in­door bar is sur­rounded by clear plas­tic walls and a pa­tio. I or­der a pip­ing hot aro­matic mulled wine as mag­i­cal big fat snowflakes be­gin to fall.

It’s time for some cul­ture: I never miss an op­por­tu­nity to spend time at the Au­dain Art Gallery.

The per­ma­nent col­lec­tion of B.C. art re­wards re­peated view­ings but this visit I’m headed to the tem­po­rary ex­hi­bi­tion, An­ces­tral Mod­ern: Aus­tralian Abo­rig­i­nal Art from the Ka­plan & Levi Col­lec­tion (un­til Jan 28). It’s a marvel.

The re­la­tion­ship of these artists to their lands, their his­tory, and the flora and fauna they live among, thrums from ev­ery brush stroke.

By the time I stand be­fore Glo­ria Tamerr Pet­yarr’s Leaves, I find my­self en­gulfed with emo­tion at its un­du­lat­ing power.

Step­ping out­side again, the moun­tains seem more won­drous than ever.

NEW THIS SEA­SON

New eats

The Squamish Lil’wat Cul­tural Cen­tre (slcc.ca) is of­fer­ing a First Nations Win­ter Feast and Per­for­mance that in­cludes a North­west Coast-in­spired menu, Indige­nous World Win­ery wines and B.C. craft beers, with live per­for­mances through­out the meal.

The Cor­ner Deli (thecornerdeli.ca) of­fers eight choices of sand­wiches (plus a daily spe­cial) and a few sides, the menu still cov­ers ev­ery­thing from a tra­di­tional Mon­treal smoked meat on rye, to a se­ri­ously de­li­cious ve­gan banh mi.

New sleep­ing quar­ters

The hip Pangea Pod Ho­tel (pangeapod­ho­tel.com) pro­vides much-needed, high-qual­ity bud­get ac­com­mo­da­tion for vis­i­tors used to hos­tels, and they serve good piz­zas in their restau­rant and bar.

At the other end of the scale, the Fair­mont Chateau Whistler’s (fair­mont.com/whistler) newly ren­o­vated Alpine Suites are sleek, lux­u­ri­ous and per­fect for sit­ting out a rainy day.

Snow­shoe through the for­est

The Après Teepee Tour from Whistler Snow­shoe (whistlersnowshoe.com) guides guests through the Cal­laghan Val­ley for­est be­fore re­ward­ing them with mulled bev­er­ages and a char­cu­terie board en­joyed next to a rag­ing fire.

Less ad­ven­tur­ous win­ter warm­ers can be had at the Four Sea­sons Re­sort (foursea­sons.com/whistler) by cosy­ing up around the vin­tage Pa­tio Cam­per for make-yourown s’mores, and a Tipsy Snow­man Hot Cho­co­late (also avail­able in a child-friendly ver­sion).

And if money is no ob­ject, The Blue Room (head­linemoun­tain­hol­i­days.com) will fly you and your date off for a five-course meal served deep in­side an an­cient ice cave for the princely sum of $20,000.

WHISTLERSNOWSHOE.COM

With Après Teepee Tour, trav­ellers can ex­plore the for­est by snow­shoe be­fore ar­riv­ing at a back­coun­try teepee, com­plete with fire and char­cu­terie.

FORGED AXE THROW­ING

Axe throw­ing is prov­ing pop­u­lar as one of Whistler’s new­est in­door ac­tiv­i­ties.

If money is no ob­ject, The Blue Room will fly you and your date off for a five-course meal served deep in­side an an­cient ice cave. The ex­pe­ri­ence comes with a cost of $20,000.

The out­door pool at the Four Sea­sons Re­sort and Res­i­dences Whistler is heated year-round.

The Fair­mont Chateau Whistler has newly ren­o­vated Alpine Suites.

The Au­dain Art Gallery hosts an ex­hibit of Aus­tralian Abo­rig­i­nal art un­til Jan 28.

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