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STAY AT: Pinnacle Hotel, Whistler –> inexpensive, amazing jacuzzis and fireplaces, perfect location and views of the mountains.
TRAVEL AT: December-January has the best snowfall. Everyone also told us how incredible Whistler is in Summer, with zip lining and mountain biking.
TIPS: DON’T attempt to be a hero – if you haven’t skied in a while, opt for a lesson.
WEAR: WARM clothes! Check out my orange jacket – it’s no fashion parade. Thermals are essential, as are goggles and balaclavas if skiing.
Whistler. Extremely underrated and endlessly beautiful.
I went to Whistler in the middle of winter, after not having skied for over 10 years. We boarded the bus from Vancouver to Whistler Village, which served as a warning for the entire experience. The bus ride was around two hours of terrifying yet incredible windy roads, teetering on the edge of a cliff. We were hyper aware of the fact that one wrong move by the driver would send us spinning off the edge, plunging into nothingness. So we focused on the amazing scenery, the snow-capped mountains surrounding us, the frosty, misty horizon, the bleached trees.
Our first view of Whistler Village.
Finally, we got to the village. Disembarking with trembling knees, we made our way into the warmth of our hotel, The Pinnacle. Defrosting upon arrival, we were shown to a gorgeous room with a Jacuzzi and a fireplace – everything you could need in a snowy town!
The first night, we went to La Bocca in the village, for some much-needed pasta to warm us up. It was a shock adjusting to the below freezing temperatures, but we were in awe of the beautiful village we found ourselves in. After some mouth watering fusilli with broccolini and rose sauce, it was straight to bed, exhausted after two hours of gripping our seats in terror.
Pasta from La Bocca.
The next morning, we got ready quickly and made our way to Blackcomb Mountain. Too busy admiring the snowy paradise, I forgot to worry about the fact I had no idea how to ski, and didn’t notice as my boyfriend took me up to one of the highest points of the mountain, until it was time to disembark the chairlift.
Suddenly, it was apparent that I didn’t even know how to get off the chairlift. I was shaking and screaming, but with the help of the attendants, managed to fall flat on my face without tumbling down the mountain. But then I realised the bigger problem. I was almost at the top of this enormous, steep mountain, with no means of getting down to the bottom. I pleaded with the chairlift attendants to let me catch the chairlift down, close to tears by this point. But they refused. The worst part was, there weren’t even any beginner runs to ski down at this point on the mountain, and the intermediate and advanced runs may as well have been completely vertical from where I was standing.
One of the ski runs on Blackcomb Mountain.
So I improvised. I slid down almost the entire length of the mountain on my bum, holding my skis above my head as a warning to all the professionals around me. Finally, crying with relief, I reached the bottom, and staggered straight back to the hotel for a hot shower and some solid ground under my feet.
That night, it was to Sushi Village for dinner, for some essential comfort food. It was fantastic!
By the next morning, I had finally found my brain, and booked myself into an all-day lesson with a small group for BEGINNERS! It turned out not only had I started skiing on the harder of the two mountains, but I had also begun on some of the hardest runs on offer.
My incredible instructor took us to the ‘Learning Area’, where I, along with many young children, and surprisingly a few older people, travelled up the magic carpet, and learned how to slowllllyyyyyy wind our way down the 100 metre, gently sloping hill over and over, building our confidence. They took us up to the café on the mountain for lunch, which was an awesome cafeteria with the most amazing view of the mountain, dotted with the red and white of Canadian flags.
View from the cafeteria on Whistler Mountain.
By the end of the day, I thought I could almost claim that I could ski. But I would be sticking to the Easy runs on Whistler Mountain (the slightly easier mountain) for the rest of the trip.
Making snow angels.
That night, dinner was at The Mexican Corner, where massive $10 margaritas were impossible to resist. We feasted on tacos, tostaditas and Mexican salad, and I felt much more positive about the last day of skiing approaching.
The final day I skied, I spend almost the entire time on the Learners run, before finally progressing to the easiest Beginner run of all. I felt so accomplished going down that Beginners run alone, and repeated it over and over for two hours, before calling it a day and returning to the homely Pinnacle Hotel.
A misty day on Whistler Mountain.
Our final morning was spent admiring the beautiful village of Whistler, making our way around the few shops in the gentle snow, marveling at the intimate and small nature of the town, and how different it was from anywhere we’d ever experienced before.
We spent a fair bit of time indulging in Belgian hot chocolates and hot apple ciders from Blendz – they were so good we had to have seconds. We felt we deserved it after three days of intense skiing, and the warmth spread throughout our bodies – a welcome change.
Unfortunately, then it was time to board that terrifying bus back to Vancouver.
It had been a challenging, rewarding and outstanding experience. Whistler is the most stunning place I’ve ever seen, whether it’s the snowy, pure-white mountains lined with snow-capped trees, the Olympic Village blanketed in a thick layer of snow, or the warm interior of lovely hotels like the Pinnacle. The restaurants are fantastic and surprisingly diverse for such a small village. It’s a place unlike any other. A lifelong memory, and a must-have experience.