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Whistler Trip - February and March 2013

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

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.


LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01



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
post #2 of 6
Thread Starter 

... continued.


There was some of this type of behaviour.




Which (of course) led to this type of behaviour.



But the troops remained upbeat.



And the scenery was gorgeous.  Here's Black Tusk through the mist from the top of Harmony. 



We got into a rhythm of hitting the Crystal Hut at 2:30pm to get the last of the waffle orders, then a few laps of Rock'n'Roll / Ridge Runner and/or Twist and Shout before heading down for "cocktails and debrief" in one of the bars at base camp and perhaps following that up with a hot tub.  Nice!


Then, for our final day (a Saturday), friend Matt arrived in town and the sun came out in force (Matt’s weather mojo makes me sick).  We arranged to do the first tracks breakfast deal – an early breakfast in the Roundhouse followed by half an hour or so on the hill before the weekend crowd could upload.  We headed to Harmony and were greeted with this.








And it was gooood!



On a day like that the views from the Horstman Hut are sublime.



Note this photo includes the first tracks run on Harmony from the above shots ...


... this one.




It was a gorgeous afternoon to end the trip. 


How often do you run across eight Tiggers together on the ski slopes?  Here’s one of them, and I’m so sorry I missed the mass photo from earlier in the day.






And now for some more technical matters.  Here’s something that interested me - a display setting out the cabling used for the Peak 2 Peak gondola.  The gondolas run on their own wheels, on a pair of static cables (the track ropes) and hauled between mountains by the haul rope, which spins around the bull wheel at each end.  Essentially a cable car setup for a gondola.  Check out the weight of the track rope.  Nearly 18kg a metre.  And they’re running about nineteen kilometres of the stuff ... across only four towers.  They are pretty hefty towers though.




This cracked me up for our entire stay.



Isn't it amazing the crap you have to carry for a day’s skiing these days.  Of course, the Polar Bear shots are optional (unless you've made a promise to Tracee).



Whistler, Perisher and Chamonix ... Perisher makes the big league.  






And finally, here are some panorama shots to round things out.  Two shots of the Village base.


LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01



LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01



A view of the Roundhouse on Whistler.


LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01



The Inukshuk (with clouds) on Whistler Peak.


LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01



A view of Harmony from the Peak 2 Peak gondi.


LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01



A view of Whistler from the Horstman Hut.


LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01



And our fresh tracks view of Harmony on the last day.


LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01



It was a terrific trip.  It's a great place.  Go there.  It’s wonderful.

Edited by sinbad7 - 3/27/13 at 3:18pm
post #3 of 6

Great trip. Great pictures. How many days were you there.

post #4 of 6

That's quite a trip report. :) Nice photos. I often escape to the area off Crystal Chair--Twist and Shout, etc--when the alpine is socked in, or when I just want to avoid people. Hardly anyone goes over there. Though that will change next year with the new chair I'm sure...

post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Marty View Post

Great trip. Great pictures. How many days were you there.


We originally booked ourselves in for 14 nights, and we extended one extra night to be able to ski with my friend on the final Saturday.  We were in an apartment at The Gables [edit, great apartments and great location by the way], which is a complex in the trees just as you cross the bridge over Fitzsimmons Creek heading toward the Upper Village.  Here's G (at left) coming out of the trees and over the snow bank which was the start of our morning walk to the gondolas - it was only about 200 yards.





Originally Posted by Christy319 View Post

That's quite a trip report. :) Nice photos. I often escape to the area off Crystal Chair--Twist and Shout, etc--when the alpine is socked in, or when I just want to avoid people. Hardly anyone goes over there. Though that will change next year with the new chair I'm sure...


We spent more than 60% of our time on Blackcomb.  Our apartment was slightly closer to the Blackcomb gondola, which was basically walk-on during the week.  Also, we liked the terrain, there were fewer people on that hill and the waffles at Crystal Hut were always tempting.  Also, after the rain in the first week the lower Creekside runs resembled an ice rink (with bumps) so we stayed away from Creekside altogether after that.  The runs to the left of the Catskinner chair were easily the least crowded of both hills; Countdown, Renegade, Racer Alley and Slingshot.  We did prefer to ski down off the mountain on the Whistler side but we could always swap mountains on the Peak 2 Peak in the afternoon and pull up at the GLC as we approached the village coming off the hill.


Twist and Shout has a lot of features you can play with, especially if you access it around the back from the Crystal Hut; natural half pipes, rollovers, banks and drop-offs.  It's a lot of fun.


I'm sure the new express quad chair (the recycled Harmony chair) will make that side more attractive - especially as you'll be able to lap Crystal without the long run out to the Excelerator chair.  The new six seater on Harmony will be a bonus as well.  The largest lift queues we saw for the trip were the morning upload on the Whistler gondola, the Harmony chair, Emerald Express and the upload from Creekside that clogs up Big Red - all on weekends of course.


The place has a lot of micro-climates.  It might be snowing and foggy on the Big Red side of Whistler, whilst being relatively clear on the other side of the hill.  7th Heaven was also pretty quick to close in, and you need some visibility up there.

Edited by sinbad7 - 3/31/13 at 1:53am
post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 

Sorry, last but not least here are a few shots from our couple of days in Vancouver on the way out.  


We walked past the steam clock in Gas Town (of course) and heard it whistle/chime the hour, which was fun(ny) ...



... we saw the drip ...





.. and we saw the Bridge.



But, after a bit of research before we left, one place we did want to go was the Vancouver Fan Club on Granville Street.  If you're interested in live music and are passing through Vancouver this is a great place to kick back and have a few drinks.




They have taps galore ...



... they have a selection of other offerings ...



... and the live music just keeps on coming.  For some reason I love this shot.



Go there, it's good.

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