We didn’t have Whistler on our itinerary. Wouldn’t it be similar to the Rockies? After all, we were already spending close to 2 weeks between Jasper and Banff discovering all there was to see. Fortunately we changed our minds. Having decided we’re not huge fans of BC wines, and tasting was the primary motivation for visiting the Okanagan (our original destination), we decided to venture to Whistler before making our way down to Vancouver. A great decision was made!
Whistler (and environs) was experiencing a heatwave the day of our arrival – 35 degrees! (and yes, that’s Celsius not Fahrenheit). It was so good to be in shorts for the first time since our arrival in Canada at the beginning of May.
No sooner had we checked into our lodge – a huge suite with full kitchen just on the edge of the village – than we dumped our bags and headed out. Let’s not waste time unpacking! Just walking through the village made us gasp and sigh.
We understand why people call it a happy place. Yes, it’s a bit artificial – one could say like Disneyland, but hey, we loved that too! The buzz around the place is palpable. And where else can you see people equipped with skiis and snowboards to hit the slopes right besides other kitted out with body armour and mountain bikes to hit the dirt trails?
Even the supermarket has dummy skiers hanging above the grocery stacks. We can definitely see why there are so many young people heading there – and so many Aussies!
After dinner, we headed to the Upper Village, crossing the river and in spite of the business around, there were still plenty of quiet places one could escape to.
The following day was almost as hot and wind still, so we decided to head up the mountains on the gondola. Despite the hot weather, there was still way too much snow around to have many of the hiking trails open. This also meant only some of the gondolas and lifts were operating. There were 2 key gondolas running. The first one, the Village Gondola is the highway to Whistler Mountain – a 25 minute trip from the village to the roundhouse near the top of the mountain. The second one, Peak2Peak, was an exhilarating trip across a deep valley between two mountain, Whistler and Blackcomb. In the latter, one is totally suspended. It held the world record for the longest free span between ropeway towers—3.03 kilometres until 2017. It is still the highest point above the ground—436 metres. We were fortunate to have the cars to ourselves instead of with another 20+ people that they’re designed to carry.
We certainly had no complaints about the fact that there was too much snow. We took the 7th heaven express up to the glacier viewpoint and from there we could see people skiing down below.
We also stomped though snow and ice marvelling at the beauty around. We took a hike through “icewalls” – areas where they had ploughed the snow to open the roadway, giving an idea of how thick the snow would be in winter.
The one thing we were sad about was that the new suspension bridge at the top of Whistler Mountain was still being finished to open for the Summer season, so we weren’t able to walk on it. We thought about asking the workmen finishing it off whether we could test it for them.
A little more mellow…
Our second day was a little more relaxed. Although we got up early and did a 14km run out to some of the nearby lakes, we didn’t do any hikes. Because we’d purchased a 2-day pass, we went up the gondolas again. The wind was blowing quite strongly, so particularly on the Peak2Peak, the car was moving sideways quite a bit. It was amazing that despite doing it the previous day, we saw so much that we’d missed. And we had fun watching all the mountain bikes heading up on the lifts and being brought down again with their mad riders in the saddle!
We could not resist a photo op on the winners dais from the previous winter games – only chance we will get on the dais.
Our favourite bakery…
When we were in Vancouver, we had discovered an amazing bakery called Purebread. Prior to arrival in Whistler, Glenda stumbled upon the fact that Purebread was actually a Whistler institution that had spread to Vancouver. So we stood in the queues daily (sometimes more than once) to salivate over and select scones, breads, muffins, brownies and other delectables!