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When is Whistler typically 100% open?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

For the last few years, my wife and I have been doing a pre-Christmas ski trip. So far we've gone to Vail and Snowbird/Alta and have met with decent, albeit not perfect, conditions.

 

This year we're considering Whistler (amongst a few other locations), and I'm wondering when Whistler / Blackcomb is usually 100% open (or close).

 

Is mid-Dec a good time to travel there?

post #2 of 16

Like every report, it depends on the year. Two years ago there was 18 feet in November, and when I was there 2 days after Thanksgiving it looked like mid-winter. Three or four years ago it hardly started snowing until late January.

 

Mid December is a bit early for real 100% open some years.

post #3 of 16

Whistler doesn't need to be 100% open to have all of the good skiing available.  The bottoms of both mountains are not where the good stuff is.  Usually it's fine in the Alpine by the middle of December, but you never know.  

 

Also, what do you think of as 100% open?  As the snow accumulates new runs appear that were not there before because rocks are covered up or cliffs are buried.  These don't show up on the trail maps usually but they can be a big part of the experience.  Some of them never open during some seasons.

 

If you're thinking about groomed trails, then the upper mountain should be 100% open, at least most years.

post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thinking of a mixture of terrain, groomed and ungroomed.

 

Asking about 100% was the wrong question to ask. Basically what I'm trying to prevent is traveling to Whistler for the first time, also knowing I won't get to go there again for at least a few years, and wishing I had gone at a time when more of the mountain was available ... when the skiing was better ... etc. I know you can't predict conditions ahead of time.

 

As long as it isn't unheard of for the mountain to be in great shape by mid-Dec, then I suppose it is as reasonable a target as anywhere, eh?

post #5 of 16

 

Quote:
then I suppose it is as reasonable a target as anywhere, eh?

This is true.  Relative to other large, challenging mountains, Whistler's early season track record is as good as anyone's.  Extremely Canadian's steep skiing clinics average opening date is around Dec. 15.

 

That said pre-Christmas is a poor risk for advance committed skiing relative to January - April.  So if you're a junkie and skiing all those months anyway, great.  If you only do a couple of destination trips per season, you're much safer doing them in those later months.  If you take advance planned early/mid December trips every year, you will get busted on something like 1/4 to 1/3 of them even at the more reliable places.

 

We repeat this advice every year.  The period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is dead in the travel business.  Wait until you see who gets November snow before committing where to ski in December.

post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post

We repeat this advice every year.  The period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is dead in the travel business.  Wait until you see who gets November snow before committing where to ski in December.



Tony, absolutely. We've done this trip 3 years in a row now and we don't book anything until a week or 2 before we go. I'll often book flights perhaps 2-3 weeks in advance if something is looking good, just to not get burnt on flight prices. I'll do so on Southwest, so if I need to change to a different destination -- I can cancel that SW flight and not lose any value. So far, we've been able to tell by 2 weeks before hand if a resort has a chance of being in good shape. As far as the rest of the required bookings -- there's simply no reason to book them in advance. Not a single resort will fill up anything. Prices usually get better as you get closer because they're desperate to get people in there, etc. So, thus far, we've been able to wait till the last minute on almost everything.

 

I can't imagine choosing a destination in October or early November and having to sit and wonder if your choice will blow up in your face or not.

post #7 of 16

Whistler should be on everyones to do list!   I would do just what your doing and wait as long as possible, maybe a day or two in advance. 

Even if they have the coverage, it can rain to the top at any time.   A couple of years ago they had the coverage, but then it had rained to the top and a dry cold front came in after and it was an ice rink.  

post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Posaune View Post

Whistler doesn't need to be 100% open to have all of the good skiing available.  The bottoms of both mountains are not where the good stuff is.  Usually it's fine in the Alpine by the middle of December, but you never know.  

 

Also, what do you think of as 100% open?  As the snow accumulates new runs appear that were not there before because rocks are covered up or cliffs are buried.  These don't show up on the trail maps usually but they can be a big part of the experience.  Some of them never open during some seasons.

 

If you're thinking about groomed trails, then the upper mountain should be 100% open, at least most years.

As a local I agree totally with Posaune's comment. There is 100% and 100%. We have more vertical and horizontal than a lot of ski resorts so consequently what is added by the mountain being open below mid station is a groomed ski out. There are no gladed runs (that are in bounds) that low on the mountain. The Farmer's Almanac is predicting a cold and wet winter for the Pacific North West. We have been having quite a bit of rain (predicted 40 mm today) and for example the upper mountain was off limits to mountain bikers yeterday due to amount of snow that was on the ground. Have a look at this cam http://www.whistlerblackcomb.com/weather/cams/whistler/index.htm which shows what has already fallen at the Roundhouse. I would not be surprised if we do not have a repeat of two seasons ago where the precipitation (ie snowfall above 1000 metres) in November means that they may be calling for an early opening. I am fairly confident that opening weekend will have some decent skiing up high and that most of the upper mountain will be having good conditions by early December.
 

 

post #9 of 16

It is unusual for Whistler to NOT be in good shape with most lifts running by mid December. 

 

If you're a planner and like the security of knowing what you're doing far in advance, we have some great Early booking offers for trips booked by November 15, 2011.  For example, every 4th night FREE on many accommodations, ski from CAD 41 per day, and kids ski and rent equipment for FREE!

 

Alternatively, if you prefer to watch the weather and book last minute, we can also hook you up with late deals.

 

Check us out at www.powderrangers.ca for further information or email your requirements to info@powderrangers.ca 

post #10 of 16

Instead of 100%, perhaps the better criteria is the High Alpine (Peak/Harmony/Symphony on Whis; Glacier/7th on Bcomb).  IIRC, the high alpine lifts opening in the first week of Dec is quite rare.   They tend to debut for the season in the mid/late Dec timeframe, so it can be risky if you're committing to a trip in mid Dec and want to ski the high alpine.  Usually by Christmas, it's all open.

 

I know if I booked a trip to Whistler from around the world and showed up when the high alpine was closed, I would feel quite bummed, despite all the great terrain below the tree-line.  If I were booking a pre-Christmas trip and was budget conscious, I would place my bets as late in Dec as possible before high season rates kick in.

 

But in the end, it's always a crapshoot in terms of weather at W/B, as the others have mentioned.  You could have tons of snow, then suddenly rain.  Or you could get your wish for lots of snow but the high-alpine could be a white-out and perhaps closed.

post #11 of 16

It's a crapshoot in terms of weather and conditions at any ski resort! The worst (and second worst) condtions I've ever experienced on trips were in Colorado (Steamboat and Snowmass). If you do a mid-December trip every year, I think Whistler's the place to try next. You probably saw that they are opening early so things are looking good. And there are such good deals early season that I think it's worth it to avoid the crowds and get the deals, even if things are as great as they would be in high season.

post #12 of 16

This year Whistler will be dynamite in December.  You can go to the bank on it.

post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Posaune View Post

This year Whistler will be dynamite in December.  You can go to the bank on it.



What about the high alpine stuff that WishfulThinking mentions above, you expect that open early as well?

post #14 of 16

Some will be OK and some won't.

 

I would not trust me implicitly, however.

post #15 of 16

The rule of thumb here is 150cms get you really good groomers; 200cms gets a really decent Alpine; and 250  gets you 'safe' trees ( Khybers ).  At lesser amounts than 200, you get to ski lines - the usual Alpine lines - and at over 230 in the Alpine you can just point 'em and go.    150cms will get you miles of Alpine roads and Blackcomb glacier if you are smart.

These totals have happened often in Nov and a two meter base by Christmas means a really good season and you are just praying for three meters.

The mid-mountain Garb'o chair is the biggest quad vert in NorthAm, at 2,200'. ( So shoot me if i'm wrong) and that's still only mid-station base = Solar Coaster chair base on Blackcomb... so mid and up gets you over 3,000 feet of the good stuff.

The pre-Christmas stuff has been mind-blowing in a 50-50 average. Skiing out to the valley before Christmas is 50-50 too - but don't kid yourself - the download from Mid-station is painless and if it is raining below mid this is a good way to go - even in mid-season. Keep a sqweegee handy as it can rain in any month with any southern system... The Freezing level is key.  Look for systems from Alaska.

Arctic hi-pressure and minus 20-25 C happens for a couple or three weeks per year. Make a duct-tape nascar spoiler for your goggles to cover your nose. This year feels colder - so maybe we get weeks of FANTASTIC hard cord-roi carving. Die, fat skiers. die.

ps: April is The best month, here.  Spring sun and winter snow to mid April and spring on south faces after... up to mid-May has been a gas too - and I mean Real skiing-  but that's 50-50. If they don't close - skiing in June is not unheard of.

 

Watch the snow report and weather history and book late except at Christmas. Mid-week = no real line-ups.

post #16 of 16

Regarding the high alpine, this just in, via the Whistler/Blackcomb facebook page:  "Patrol has given us clearance to open Peak Chair this Friday with Harmony opening on Saturday!!!!!!"

 

That just leaves Sympathy chair left to open on Whistler... oops I mean Symphony.

No indication of what will open on Blackcomb.  Maybe Glacier Express, and a tad less likely, 7th Heaven?

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