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Whistler: Best time to go?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

We're planning a week-long trip to Whistler.  I've never been in that area.  What's the best time to go?  Thanks.

post #2 of 19

I'd go in April, during Telus! 

http://www.wssf.com/Schedule

 

 

IHMO:  The weather can suck there anytime, so you might as well go when there something going on?

post #3 of 19

I doubt very much that Whistler has more bad days than anywhere else. I've had more bad ski days in Colorado than I've had in Whistler. Telus is held when it is to get people to come during what otherwise wouldn't necessarily  be great skiing, so don't go then (it might be fine, but it's mid-late April--if you can go anytime why chance it?).

 

Early to mid January is my favorite. You have that post holiday lull in prices and crowds, but the snowpack is great. If you were really jonesing for an early season trip, Whistler is your best bet in North America, and you can get great deals mid-December. BUT the entire alpine--the very highest areas--probably won't be open yet. I go in Feb and March but they are usually busy-Whistler gets so many international visitors and this is when they come. Watch out for Vancouver spring break weeks in March.

post #4 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Christy319 View Post

I doubt very much that Whistler has more bad days than anywhere else. I've had more bad ski days in Colorado than I've had in Whistler. Telus is held when it is to get people to come during what otherwise wouldn't necessarily  be great skiing, so don't go then (it might be fine, but it's mid-late April--if you can go anytime why chance it?). 

I spent most of my life in Seattle, so I have many, many days skiing Whistler.  I've spent the last five years living in Colorado where I have over 500 days of skiing.  Despite the fact that Whistler has the best lift serviced terrain in North America, and by comparison, Northern Colorado has pretty lame terrain, I can count the number of great days that I've had at Whistler on one hand, while I can count the number of bad days I've had in CO on one hand.  IMO, the skiing at Whistler is mediocre most of the time, bad some of the time and periodically out of this world.  It all depends on what you are looking for of course, but I hate skiing in the fog and flat light and Whistler gets that a lot.  It also gets quite a bit of rain--though it is rare to have rain all the way to the top of the mountain. 

 

The real problem if weather matters to you is that you can get skunked for the entire duration of your vacation.  I've it happen more than once where I've never seen the mountain for an entire ski week.  I've also had a ski week ruined during the month of February when the freezing levels shot up to 14,000 feet and three days of torrential rains (top to bottom) destroyed the mountain.  Trust me on this: it is very rare to get five consecutive days of bad weather in Colorado (and "bad" weather means snowing).  In Whistler, it is not uncommon to see weeks of clouds and fog (which means the entire alpine will be a giant whiteout).  While it is *possible* that on any given season somebody will get skunked in Colorado, it is virtually guaranteed to happen in Whistler (just hopefully not to you :)).

 

January and March are probably your best bets for snow, but even then you never know.  April can be a great month, but it can also be horrible.  The nice thing about April is that at some point, they cut prices in half and you can find some very nice accomodations at greatly reduced prices.  If you can be flexible, your best bet is to wait and book last minute when you know conditions are going to be good.  Otherwise, keep your expectations low so you won't be disappointed if you draw a bad run of weather.

 

Don't get me wrong; I love Whistler and hope to get back there soon.  But you have to be realistic if you book far in advance that you are rolling the dice.

post #5 of 19

You need to define "best"?

 

Price conscious? - Go early/mid December

Want good night life etc? Go Christmas or Presidents Weekend or Easter - packed village.

Want powder? Go Feb

Want Sun? Go April

Want variety? Go March

Want less crowds, good snow and a few deals? Go January.

 

 

Note: Weather thou in Whistler is variable so you can get snow/sun/rain etc anytime of year...but generally the above is true.  Ski with those who know the mountain, and you will never have a bad day skiing in Whistler.

post #6 of 19

Been last 2 seasons in February for 3 weeks and same thing 1st time in 2009 also. We have always gone end of Jan to 3rd week of Feb. Seems to be break in bad weather as had no days we couldn't ski but .......: 

Always got Bluebird days included but at the detriment if no new snow which usually means hard packed after 5 consecutive days but you can see obviously.

The first 4 days this year,  okay new snow but then 10 days drought so no powder and got very much like home. Started snowing again late Feb.

Last year no new snow after we got there again, bluebird a lot then last 4 days dumped 2 metres so.....

First year very poor base, bluebird small snowfalls but not significant. Bad year.

 

2007, Colorado 3 weeks, February again, no snowfalls and very low and hard bases and skied all the fields in Summit County. Cold, high and not good fun so we chose Canada the next time instead.

So just luck of the draw.

 

Next time to WBC we will try going in March though. February is great for sun but not for snow in the weeks we have been. Looking at snowfall stats for the last 17 years March seems a better bet if you want fresh snow and a decent base.

Got to say though, in the 45 days we have skied there we have never got heavy rain or fog or visibility that bad you couldn't still ski at 90%?? Only ever had 1 day the whole 2 mountains weren't open and that was for avalanche control so....

Must be other times of the season?

post #7 of 19

try to avoid any American holiday weekends if possible. Lines then can be  big and hotels will likely cost more. If you have to plan your trip to coincide with a US long weekend just be prepared. I find it pretty frustrating when I get stuck in a line up  just because I forgot it was a US holiday. Avoiding the crowds is fairly easy but you need time to learn how or else ski with someone who does. Ski dude's comments about general weather trends are pretty accurate. Plus if you have bad weather at one altitude ski at another.  

post #8 of 19

For a week long holiday though, apart from the weekend part (mostly the Saturday), you probably won't get crowds that make much differance to skiing. Mid week it's too big for the number of people. 

As for deals, we have always had to book about now as flights and accom are cheap this far in advance, so once you know the weeks you want it can be way cheaper committing. You can obviously get good deals a week before you go and know what conditions are like but it depends on your holiday availability, work etc and where you are coming from. Flights on short notice from NZ don't give us that luxury.

We have always paid <$180 CAD incl tax a night for a ski in/out condo on Blackcomb that sleeps 4. Ski valet, pools, parking etc. Also our ski passes last year because we booked them early worked out at $57 CAD a day including tax too.

Forgot to say before as well. At the end of January you get an extra 30 mins of lifts open and then end of Feb another 30mins too. So more skiing the later you go if you want to max ski all day.

post #9 of 19

Planning a skiing trip to Whistler in Feb next year. Probably going to be heading up from Seattle. I know it's quite far, but was wondering if there's any any other (read cheaper!) way of getting there besides by plane?!

post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by AllThingsAlpine View Post

Planning a skiing trip to Whistler in Feb next year. Probably going to be heading up from Seattle. I know it's quite far, but was wondering if there's any any other (read cheaper!) way of getting there besides by plane?!

 

Assuming...you mean getting there from Seattle....drive.  Lots do it every weekend. 4-5 hrs.

 

If you fly, you are still only in Vancouver, then its 1.5-2hrs drive from there.  Considering security etc, flying would only save you maybe an hour. 

post #11 of 19

Purely the skiing part, am told by locals January is best.

post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post

I'd go in April, during Telus! 

http://www.wssf.com/Schedule

 

 

IHMO:  The weather can suck there anytime, so you might as well go when there something going on?

 

This was the last year of Telus. They thought they were going to get the Dew Tour, but that fell through (thankfully)

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by geoffda View Post

Whistler has the best lift serviced terrain in North America, and by comparison, Northern Colorado has pretty lame terrain, I can count the number of great days that I've had at Whistler on one hand.  IMO, the skiing at Whistler is mediocre most of the time, bad some of the time and periodically out of this world.  skiing in the fog and flat light and Whistler gets that a lot.

 

 you can get skunked for the entire duration of your vacation.

All very, very true. Worst vis in NA.

Quote:
Originally Posted by noncrazycanuck View Post

try to avoid any American holiday weekends if possible

Yup. Everyone comes up from the Great Satan to get the goods. Also, this year, everyone from OZ and NZ went there as the rest of NA was crap.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AllThingsAlpine View Post

Planning a skiing trip to Whistler in Feb next year. Probably going to be heading up from Seattle. I know it's quite far, but was wondering if there's any any other (read cheaper!) way of getting there besides by plane?!

Huh? 2.5 hours from Sea to the border (assuming you don't get too many Seattle "I own the left lane" types), and another two to WB by car. No biggee. Done it many times.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NewtoSki2011 View Post

Purely the skiing part, am told by locals January is best.

The locals will say late Feb to mid March, but nevermind.

post #13 of 19

Well, it is summer...

 

I prefer later in the season when the days are longer. I have skied some great snow in April/May. But you really never know. Seen both chest deep powder and puking rain in mid season... 

 

By my standards, it can be pretty crowded any time. It is a global destination... 

 

My experience is very different than geoffda's. Yes, the PNW (including Whistler) can get funky weather events. But the counterpoint is more and better snow on average.  I don't judge my skiing by whether it is bluebird or not. It is all about terrain, snow quantity and snow quality. And by that formula - no place in CO is even on the playing field compared to Whistler. And if you do get some crummy weather -  is skiing in the rain (when you need to) any worse than skiing ribbons of manmade snow with rocks and dirt and grass and hidden shark fins representing your "off piste" opportunities? All in all, Whistler is just great IMO. 

 

Access from Seattle is easy. Figure a 4 to 4.5 hour drive. Taking a plane would be a bit crazy IMO. Whistler also suggests

 

 

 

Quote:
Seattle to Vancouver and Whistler by Bus
Relax, enjoy the sightseeing, and let someone else do the driving. Take Quick Shuttle from Sea-Tac Airport to Vancouver International Airport or downtown Vancouver.  Then connect with Pacific Coach Lines to take you from Vancouver to Whistler along the spectacular Sea-To-Sky highway.  For charter bus options please contact our groups department.

 

post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by snofun3 View Post

 

This was the last year of Telus. They thought they were going to get the Dew Tour, but that fell through (thankfully)

.

 

That's too bad, I've always wanted to attend that event.   Whistler also made a big run for the X-games, but they gave that back to Aspen for two more years.

I like the big events.  They tend to bring in top tier entertainment, but I rarely find the skiing crowded.  Indubitably,  they bring a lot of exposure to the younger market, which everyone wants now days!

 

Spin:

I agree, Whistler's terrain is incredible!   But as you said, the weather can be an issue, especially if your not an expert.  If it's puking at the top and the alpines closed and it's raining at the bottom, everyone gets funneled to the mid elevation lifts. Then when the alpine opens, everyone goes there? 

Biggest lift lines I've ever seen, were at Whistler!  I got a guide to cut the lines, but it turned out the guiding in the pea soup, was the real value. I wouldn't found 90% stuff he took me to and probably couldn't today? I would highly recommend Extremely Canadian to anyone in the same situation, they made my trip!

 

Colorado actually has the terrain, but with the continental snow-pack, they just can't open it.  So it remains permanently closed or mostly, out of bounds?  Which is fine by me, I don't like being told what I cannot ski? 

post #15 of 19

I am going to be at Whistler the first week of Feb. with my ski club.  I haven't been there since the early 90's.  I am goint to do the Extremely Canadian 2 day clinic and top it off with a day of Heli. I can't wait!

 

If anyone wants to hook up for a few runs let me know.

 

Rick G

post #16 of 19

Hi 

Avoid any peak times. I suggest skiing in January or Early February, if you cannot make it then go early March. We have just booked to go in April with our family and staying at First Tracks - we are restricted by dates these days but we have found end of March / April to be great as well. We have booked with a Whistler based company who got us a good price on accommodation and lift passes. www.cold-comforts.com We have also made our own arrangements before and stayed in private condos. We cannot wait to go back. Alice

post #17 of 19

Hi

Avoid any peak times. I suggest skiing in January or Early February, if you cannot make it then go early March. We have just booked to go in April with our family and staying at First Tracks - we are restricted by dates these days but we have found end of March / April to be great as well. We have booked with a Whistler based company who got us a good price on accommodation and lift passes. www.cold-comforts.com We have also made our own arrangements before and stayed in private condos. We cannot wait to go back. Alice

 

FYI: First Tracks is in Whistler Creekside Village. It is next to to the creekside gondola but the mountain normally shuts down that access in early April. You may need to still  drive to the main village and pay for parking  to get up the mountain. Depending when you have booked you should still be able to ski down at the end of the day.

post #18 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by acvc View Post

Hi 

Avoid any peak times. I suggest skiing in January or Early February, if you cannot make it then go early March. We have just booked to go in April with our family and staying at First Tracks - we are restricted by dates these days but we have found end of March / April to be great as well. We have booked with a Whistler based company who got us a good price on accommodation and lift passes. www.cold-comforts.com We have also made our own arrangements before and stayed in private condos. We cannot wait to go back. Alice

FYI: First Tracks is in Whistler Creekside Village. It is next to to the creekside gondola but the mountain normally shuts down that access in early April. You may need to still drive to the main village and pay for parking to get up the mountain. Depending when you have booked you should still be able to ski down at the end of the day

post #19 of 19

Creekside usually stops last weekend in April - the mountains used to alternate years as to which would stay open longer but now Blackcomb is always the one staying open into May - When Whistler closes so will Peak to Peak so skiing down is not possible - if that is your date there is a free shuttle.

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