Whistler/Blackcomb Summer
Credit: David Webb

Experience summertime excitement at Whistler/Blackcomb.

With lofty goals of pushing further into warm-weather recreation to become a true alpine playground, Whistler/Blackcomb has developed into much more than a ski resort by winter, mountain-bike park by summer. Yes, summertime biking is world-renowned—and a must-do—but here are five more reasons to spend summer at Whistler/Blackcomb: 

Hike Blackcomb

Blackcomb HikeDavid Webb

Blackcomb's Solar Coaster Express puts hikers into the good stuff quickly. Offloading at 1,860 metres, great alpine vistas immediately open up in all directions. Chubby marmots scurry near the lifts. In the distance, dramatic glaciers sit atop the cragged peaks of these young Coast Mountains. And, by design, Blackcomb’s trails provide a speedy sense of solitude. According to Arthur DeJong, Mountain Planning and Environmental Resource Manager at Whistler/Blackcomb, these trails aspire to put natural “curtains” between the hiker and resort infrastructure. And it works—stands of whitebark pine and big rock outcroppings obscure the Rendezvous Lodge and Peak 2 Peak Gondola within minutes of setting out on the Overlord Loop to Lakeside Trail. The namesake Overlord Glacier looms in the distance as one passes icy Blackcomb Lake, tempting further exploration into Garibaldi Provincial Park. Decker Tarn is a popular backcountry campsite on the far side of an imposing ridge; overnighters often use the chairlift as a boost into the alpine, then trek out through Garibaldi for the next two days. It’s not cheating—it’s being efficient with your time. (from $50; whistlerblackcomb.com) 

Peak 2 Peak

Peak 2 PeakPaul Morrison/Whistler-Blackcomb

An engineering marvel, Whistler/Blackcomb’s Peak 2 Peak Gondola is a triple world-record holder as the highest gondola on the globe (436 metres), the longest free-span between towers (3.024 km) and as the finale to Earth’s longest continuous lift system. Providing 360-degree views high atop Fitzsimmons Creek, this 4.4-km-long tram treats riders to an 11-minute aerial tour of the Whistler Valley. After the ride, get a closer view of the impressive machinery at the Peak 2 Peak Viewing Gallery, and then head to Steeps Grill & Wine Bar to chat about your experience over the tastiest lunch on the mountain. (Ask for the daily special, it’s always your best bet.) Peak 2 Peak rides are included in your 360 Experience ticket. Later, try ZipTrek Ecotours’ The Sasquatch—a two-kilometre-long, 200-metre-high zipline that emulates the Peak 2 Peak route from Blackcomb to Whistler. A record-holder in itself, it’s the longest zipline in Canada and the USA. (whistlerblackcomb.com

Via Ferrata on Whistler

Via Ferrata WhistlerDavid Webb

If you’ve ever ridden the Peak Chair while skiing on Whistler, you’ll remember this cliff—the one the chairlift dizzyingly ascends atop en route to the mountain summit. It’s the one that makes you quickly lower the safety bar, if you hadn’t already. Wanna climb it? Three-hundred metres from bottom to top, this dramatic rock-face is the site of Mountain Skills Academy’s exciting Via Ferrata. Rated about a 5/10 in difficulty—meaning it’s no walk-in-the-park, but most people can manage—this system of iron rungs and ladders ascends two huge faces as it traverses and scrambles its way past epic views and through the occasional rock-problem (even a slight inversion) all the way to the summit and the chairlift ride down. As with all Via Ferrata, you're clipped-in throughout and ascending in genuine safety. Bonus: enjoy a short hike past glaciers and wildflowers from the Roundhouse Lodge to the cliff-base before overcoming your acrophobia on this 90-minute climb. (Full experience is about three to four hours; $119 to $129; Mountain Skills Academy.) 

Cheakamus Lake Hike & Camp

Cheakamus LakeDavid Webb

Escape the bustle of Whistler Village for Garibaldi Provincial Park and its showpiece, Cheakamus Lake. Access the trailhead via secluded dirt road, just 10 minutes south of town. The Cheakamus trail is an easy, undulating walk that leads into dense old-growth Douglas fir adorned with multi-coloured fungi, through lush forest understory and past the occasional wind-fallen evergreen before opening up to a vast, glacial-green waterbody just three kilometres in. Continue along the north shore to find swimming spots—it is frigid, though—and backcountry campsites. Some intrepid folk portage canoes for a pleasant paddle. Tent overnight and Zen-out in the shadow of 1,600-metre peaks and under a billion stars (permit required from BC Parks). Insider tip: if you can sneak away mid-week, you’ll have the lake practically to yourself. (bcparks.ca) 

Fairmont Chateau Whistler Experience Guide

Fairmont Experience GuideDavid Webb

Beyond the luxurious rooms and suites, craft cocktails at Mallard Lounge and succulent steaks at Wildflower restaurant, there is one more great reason to book a night or two at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. And his name is Ryan Vit. As the hotel’s Experience Guide, Vit is on-hand to lead guests on hikes, cycles, sightseeing tours and other outdoorsy activities. Daily outings range from a walk around adjacent Lost Lake, to a popular jaunt into Cheakamus Lake (see above) to an escorted grind up the tough-to-find Train Wreck trail, near Function Junction, and more. Four-wheel-drive transportation to all trailheads is part of the deal. Fairmont Chateau Whistler is the only hotel in town offering this service—and it’s included with your stay. (fairmont.com/whistler)