There’s a saying about tall poppies—people tend to want to cut them down. It’s fitting in use about Whistler Blackcomb, not simply because the saying’s from Australia, like much of the mountain staff, but because folks tend to take swipes at the consistently-rated number-one ski resort in North America.

It’s too crowded. It’s expensive. It’s a pain to drive there from the city…” Funny thing, we’ve never heard these complaints while standing at the summit of the Peak Express or atop the billowy expanse of the Blackcomb Glacier.

If you still need some convincing, read on for the eight reasons Whistler Blackcomb still rocks our world:

In-Bounds Backcountry

Flute Bowlhttps://www.flickr.com/photos/ruthanddave/ 

Whistler’s Flute Bowl—a taste of backcountry skiing without the commitment. Accessed via bootpacking from the Harmony Express, the Flute offers three-square-kilometres of powder extending below an arching cornice with vast views of Garibaldi Provincial Park beyond. It’s experts only and subject to avalanche conditions closures. And it’s steep-and-deep terrain unparalleled on any other in-bounds run. Some might wonder why you’d hike 30 minutes uphill, plus a 15-minute slog out, for a couple minute’s worth of turns… especially when you specifically paid for a lift pass? But to summon an old slogan—if you have to ask the question, you wouldn’t understand the answer.

Blackcomb’s Showcase

Whistler BlackcombPaul Morrison/Whistler Blackcomb

Not to be outdone by its old rival, Blackcomb fires back at the Flute Bowl with its epic (and much easier to access) namesake glacier. From the base, it’s a milk-run of chairlifts just to reach the old Showcase T-Bar—but it’s worth it and a lot less sweaty than humping into the Flute Bowl. Once on the backside, we head for the Blow Hole or Spanky’s Ladder; or the blue-square Blackcomb Glacier run offers a good intro. Give us a powdery day and laps on the Blackcomb backside and you won’t see us until dark.

A Mighty View Whistler BlackcombMark Gribbon Photography/Whistler Blackcomb

If you can manage a stout intermediate run, you owe yourself a ride up Whistler’s Peak Express. (Pull down that safety bar—this lift is dizzying even for veterans.) On a sunny day, the view from the top, near a snowcaked Inukshuk, is staggering. The volcanic skeleton of Black Tusk protrudes in the distance like a set-piece from Lord of the Rings. In all directions, a sea of peaks and glaciers. Wind shreds ice crystals off exposed granite. This vista from 2,182 metres above sea level never fails to elicit a gasp. From there, choose between one of two blue runs (we like the Saddle), or challenge yourself in the collection of black and double-black bowls.

Mountain-Hopping Done Right

Whistler BlackcombPaul Morrison/Whistler Blackcomb

You have to be pretty jaded not to be impressed by the Peak 2 Peak Gondola. It’s 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 part of Earth’s longest contiguous lift system. Running 4.4 kilometres from Whistler (near the Roundhouse) to Blackcomb (near the Rendezvous) in just 11 minutes, it’s also the fastest way to mountain-hop, should conditions on one hill best the other. Even if you don’t ride it, check out the Viewing Gallery to get a behind-the-curtain look at the machinery driving this engineering marvel.

The Racer’s Route

Whistler BlackcombPaul Morrison/Whistler Blackcomb

If you think groomers are below your skillset, we encourage you to try the black diamond Dave Murray Downhill on Whistler. Famous for being the site of the alpine skiing events at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, among other world-class races—and named for the iconic “Crazy Canuck” racer—the DMD will put your carving to the test. Access the full run from the Garbanzo Chair. The Upper Dave Murray is the fastest—ski or ride with care, but definitely open it up for the full experience. The Lower takes you right to Whistler Creekside for a craft beer and brisket at Dusty’s Bar & BBQ, to calm your nerves. It’s a big journey but well worth it. 

The Man, The Myth…

It’s the stuff of legend. More than 700 vertical metres of double-black-diamond steeps. Often icy and treacherous, the Saudan Couloir/Couloir Extreme has been Blackcomb’s extreme skiing test-piece for more than 30 years. And it recently got its name back. Originally dubbed “Saudan Couloir,” for the French extreme skiing pioneer Sylvain Saudan, it was renamed “Couloir Extreme” in the late 1990s after Sylvain objected to his name being used without permission. Years of animosity with the “skieur de l’impossible” have ended and the original name is back—though true locals never stopped calling it Saudan Couloir. You just have to ski it to earn the privilege.

(Oh—what's up with the retro video? Just a cool throwback some 27 years to the early days of shreddin' the Saudan. Lookout for the legends!)

Those Long Runs

Whistler BlackcombPaul Morrison/Whistler Blackcomb

With runs as long as 11 kilometres (Blackcomb’s Green Line or Whistler’s Peak to Creek), there is no better way to close out a day on Whistler Blackcomb then by gently carving the groomers that lead from on or near their respective summits all the way to the best après scene in the ski world. But pause to take in the valley-bottom scene as you pass the Olympic Mid-Station on Whistler or the Wizard or Excalibur offloads on Blackcomb. It’s best done midwinter, when Whistler Village is dusted with snow and it looks like you’re skiing into some European hamlet. 

Late-Spring Spectacular

Whister BlackcombPaul Morrison/Whistler Blackcomb

Skiing at Whistler Blackcomb in May (or even June) is a mindbender. With temperatures rising above 20 degrees Celsius in the valley, you’ll see golfers teeing off in shorts, patio dwellers quaffing beer in T-shirts, paddleboarders plying the waters of Lost Lake and mountains above awash in a sea of green… with bikers riding down dusty slopes into the village. But in the middle of it all skiers in full regalia are shuffling atop rubber mats to board a chairlift in a scene that really feels like it’s missing a particular white substance… Trust us—hop the lift (watch for newly-woke momma bears and cubs meandering below). By the time you get past the first hump, everything changes. Snow! This is spring skiing at Whistler Blackcomb—a tale of two seasons in one.

  • Learn More: whistlerblackcomb.com / whistler.com
  • Bonus: Check out the new Epic Pass for 2018-19, and ski unlimited days for $879 (USD). Tip for Canadians—watch the US exchange rate. The closer the dollars get, the cheaper the pass is for Canucks!

Related Content:

Plan your next great adventure with explore!
Off the beaten path locations, tips and tricks, interviews with intrepid explorers and more.