So, after much procrastination and a number of changes in plan (we didn’t even know which continent we would ski there for a while) we arrived in Whistler on 23 February and the weather was kind. After a relatively dry spell through January and February it started to snow just before our arrival, then kept snowing on and off over our two week stay. Even the sun put in an occasional appearance, emerging from the fog to cheer everyone up on the weekends.
We hit conditions like this straight out of the box.
And small falls each evening for the first few days meant snow conditions (if not the visibility) kept getting better and better.
Of course if conditions deteriorated on one hill you could simply swap mountains for the afternoon on the Peak 2 Peak gondola. The lines were pretty short, it only took 15 minutes or so, the views were epic and there was the off chance of getting one of the two glass-bottomed gondolas.
So we quickly came to this conclusion.
Here’s G on Blackcomb Glacier Road - the cat track run out off the glacier and below Twist and Shout, Ridge Runner and Rock’n’Roll – some of our favourite blue runs on the Blackcomb side.
And (of course) hamming it up for the crowd.
Part way through the first week shadows began to appear, and the sun tried to put in an appearance over the glacier ...
... but it snowed again overnight, and it got cold.
Not wanting to overlook an opportunity the new snow demanded a ski demo. Here we are with Rossi S3s and Salomon Rockette 90s. Fun skis for a fun day.
'Cause conditions were pretty good.
Then, on the first Thursday afternoon, it began to snow properly. Here’s the view from the Garibaldi Lift Co. balcony before it came on ...
... the view from the Longhorn after we schussed into the entrance of the bar ...
... and our skis after a couple of après drinks in the Longhorn.
It was all looking so very good, but it was a ‘head fake’ from Ullr. The forecast had temperatures rising into the 40’s, and before you could say “tomorrow’s going to be epic” it all went horribly wrong. Around 10pm the snow turned to hammering rain, and most of the hill turned into one of these.
The next morning it was still raining. Nevertheless, intrepid travellers that we are, we geared up and slogged our way to the gondola on the premise that rain in the village would mean snow higher up the hill. However, the sight of drenched people straggling out of the Blackcomb gondola slowed us down somewhat, and a few comments along the lines of “It’s diabolical ... do not go up there!” made the decision easy. Friday became a day of rest and relaxation (along with a spot of shopping).
Saturday opened up with wet, heavy powder. The mountain huts were full of wet people looking for hot drinks and mine was the only beer in sight (although the hip flask got a good workout around the table). Still, the temperature dropped noticeably after midday and wet powder turned to fluffy, dry powder all afternoon. Once again it was game on!
Here's G in front of the Peak 2 Peak shed on the Blackcomb side (with Rossi S3s this time) ...
... and running into one of those "looks great, but not enough pitch" problems (we've all been there).
We watched a bit of the Saturday afternoon spinny/flippy activities from the gondola base.
And later got a hint of the day to come.
Sunday opened up bright and clear - a true bluebird day - with icepick hard, refrozen groomers on the lower slopes.
And this type of thing higher up.
Click on the panorama shots to get a better view.
We spent a bit of time watching the ‘big air’ antics off the cliffs in front of the Peak chair, and enthusiastically applauding anything worthy by clicking stocks along with the rest of the crowd. At one point some fifteen or so skiers and boarders were lining the edge of the ridge ... for ages ... doing nothing. Just as we were about to hit the front of the lift line (and I'd put my camera away) someone yelled "here they go" and all fifteen went together. Even the lifties stopped to watch. One guy in red took a double stager - two 15/20 foot drops, with a large gap in between - in one enormous arc. He left a sizeable crater on landing, but there was applause from everyone, including the lifties.
It was just a great day.
This shot will give you an idea of the rain/snow divide, which I guess is pretty standard at Whistler.
Friend Tim arrived on Sunday evening to provide his own brand of hilarity, and introduce some GoPro logistics to our days. With 12 hours of footage to choose from there should be an interesting video one of these days.
The following week was all about tracking the hill out, looking for softer stashes off piste and zooming the grooming.
As the weather improved the village changed from a slushy margarita into a page from a Dr Seuss book.
And on the hill conditions went from this ...
... to this ...
... to this ...
... and back to this.
Sometimes you could see, and sometimes you couldn't. But it was never less than fun.
... to be continued.
Edited by sinbad7 - 3/30/13 at 10:55pm