Your Ultimate Guide to Skiing at Whistler

Skiing at Whistler has been on our bucket list for years. We knew we couldn’t wait any longer to get to one of the most famous ski resorts in the entire world. We heard many good and bad things about Whistler Blackcomb and knew we had to make the trip to British Columbia and check it out. If you’re also daydreaming about a ski trip to Whistler, read on about what to expect at Canada’s premier ski resort.

Skiing at Whistler – The Stats

  • Lifts (37)
    • 4 Gondolas
    • 13 High-Speed Quads
  • Vertical (m)
    675 – 2,284 (1,609)
  • Average Snow Fall
    11.2 metres
  • Ski Hours
    Late Nov to May //8:30 am to 3:30 or 4:00 pm for some lifts
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 200+
    Longest run – 11 km
    Advanced – 25%
    Intermediate – 55%
    Beginner – 20%

Skiing at Whistler Pros and Cons

Terrain park for all levels
Terrain for everyone
Extreme advanced and expert terrain
Solid lift infrastructure
Challenging groomers
Long season

Getting to Whistler

If you are flying, the best way to get to Whistler is to fly into Vancouver International Airport. Vancouver is a two-hour drive away, so you can either rent a car in Vancouver and drive yourself (though parking is limited in Whistler Village) or utilize the Whistler Shuttle. We flew from Calgary and landed in Vancouver. Before we continued on to Whistler, we did some fun things in Vancouver and also stopped off in Squamish for a day.

Where to Stay in Whistler

Skiing at Whistler

There are many hotels to stay at in Whistler, including some great ski-in/ski-out accommodations at both Blackcomb and Whistler bases. We stayed at the beautiful Fairmont Chateau Whistler at the base of Blackcomb Mountain and never wanted to leave. The Fairmont is nestled at the base of Blackcomb Mountain and is the most beautiful ski-in/ski-out accommodation you can score. It’s luxurious on the inside and out and offers unparalleled guest service.

Skiing at Whistler

There are many amenities here, including a huge fitness center, outdoor spa with a full-service bar, apres-ski lounge, and yoga studio. The Fairmont has underground parking for guests and valet if you want that as well. Once you park in Whistler, you likely won’t need your car again until you leave, as there is so much to do, see, and eat in Whistler Village.

Skiing at Whistler

The Fairmont also offers daily hotel activities like two yoga sessions (so bring a travel yoga mat), a mountain tour, cultural visit, snowshoeing, skating, and aquatic fitness. So if you’re not much of a full time skier there are other activities to keep occupied. The Fairmont also is home to a few fantastic restaurants. Including the Grill, which I will touch on more later.

Reasons to Love Skiing at Whistler

Skiing at Whistler

Whistler Blackcomb is consistently ranked as North America’s Number one ski resort. We were dubious of this as we’ve been to many fantastic ski resorts in Canada and the US, but we were pleasantly surprised with what Whistler had to offer.

Great Freeriding and Expert Riding

Skiing at Whistler
A hidden ice cave on Blackcomb Glacier

With 8100 acres of skiable terrain, there is a huge variety on offer at Whistler. Think steep and deep. Chutes, bowls, glades, and awesome high alpine terrain. We constantly delved into new, advanced, awesome freeride terrain during our four days at Whistler. Some of it was downright scary but epic. Whistler is known for being extremely busy, and it is. But in general, the higher you go – away from the groomers – the more space you’ll find yourself with.

Terrain for Everyone

Even though there’s a lot of advanced terrain, there are still long cruisers and amazing corduroy for families and children to enjoy. Check out the Peak to Creek run on Whistler for the longest run ever!

There are two mountains!

Skiing at Whistler

Whistler and Blackcomb are two side-by-side mountains connected by a pedestrian village at the base and a peak-to-peer gondola at the top. Just Whistler or Blackcomb Mountain would be enough to be on par with any other ski resort in Canada, but when they are combined, the whole ski resort is huge. You’ll never get bored here, and even with a season pass, I doubt you could check off every single run.

At times, there are almost too many options at Whistler. Since we were stationed at Blackcomb, we hung out on Blackcomb Mountain daily. Unfortunately, with only four days, exploring both huge mountains properly was impossible.

Great tree skiing

Revelstoke Mountain and Fernie still have the best ski treeing I’ve ever been on, but Whistler didn’t disappoint. You’re not hard pressed to find epic gladed runs here, and many of them are STEEP. The great news about the glades is that they often stay quiet for a little longer and hold snow better on a pow day.

Powder days

Skiing at Whistler

Whistler has an average annual snowfall of 11.2 meters, so the chances of seeing fresh snow while skiing there are pretty good. We visited for four days in early March and saw great snow on two days. It is BC coastal snow, so it is wetter than you may be used to. It’s not quite JAPOW, but it’s still so much fun to ride nonetheless. Whistler has a high vertical, so for the best snow, head to the top. Towards the bottom even in early March, it was very spring-like and at some points even raining.

Modern chairlifts

There are 37 modern chairlifts scattered around Whistler. Most of them were fast and efficient and got us going to where we needed to go fast. Whistler sees its fair share of inclement weather meaning that when there is high wind the chairs won’t operate. Thankfully, there are many sign boards letting skiers know which chairs are running and which are not.

Massive Terrain Parks

Park rats can seek comfort at Whistler as there are terrain parks on both Whistler and Blackcomb mountain. The parks are great for beginners all the way up to pro-level doing extreme tricks. if you ride park a majority of the time stick to Blackcomb as there are more terrain parks than Whistler Mountain. It’s also where you can find the pro terrain park and superpipe.

Ski-in/Ski-out Accommodation

Skiing at Whistler

As mentioned above, we stayed at the amazing Fairmont Whistler, which provides Whistler’s landmark ski-in/ski-out accommodation at the base of Blackcomb Mountain. That being said, there are a few other ski-in/ski-out accommodation options on both mountains.

I love being able to ski in and out of my accommodation. It makes life so much easier when it’s available. On mountains where it’s available I always book what is on offer. Our home mountain is Lake Louise, where there is no resort accommodation so when I travel to a ski resort destination like Whistler ski in/ski out accommodation is very much appreciated.

Tons of On-Mountain Food

You’ll be spoilt for food options at Whistler. On the mountain, there is never a bad place to stop for lunch after skiing all morning at Whistler. There are plenty of mountain huts and cafeterias to dip into. Our favorite was the Crystal Hut on Blackcomb which specializes in tasty waffles.

Down at Whistler Village and Whistler Creekside you’ll have even more options. Head here if you want to enjoy the town atmosphere for a bit, plus the prices in the village are slightly lower than the mountain huts. Our favorite budget meal was at Pizzeria Antico.

How much do Whistler lift tickets cost?

Skiing at Whistler

All these nice facilities at Whistler come at a cost. Whistler is the most expensive ski resort in Canada and on the higher end in all of North America. The only thing making it cheaper than the Colorado ski resorts in the states is the exchange rate.

However, unlike many other ski resorts in Canada, Whistler is a full-service ski resort town. There’s an awesome base village, plenty of hotels, and all the amenities on the mountain that you can’t find in other old-school resorts. One-day lift tickets at Whistler range between $160-$180 CAD a day, which can get really expensive for a week-long family vacation. You can score some deals if you have an Ikon or Epic Pass.

Where can you buy Whistler lift tickets?

It’s best to buy lift tickets online beforehand; otherwise, you could be wasting your precious day standing in line to buy lift passes.

Other Things to do on your Ski Holiday in Whistler

Skiing at Whistler
Among the trees at Vallea Lumina

There are many things to do in Whistler that aren’t skiing. Some suggestions are:

  • Scandinave Spa: A 20,000-square-foot outdoor spa to enjoy while looking out at the mountains. Quite a relaxing place to head after a day out skiing in Whistler.
  • Vallea Lumina: We loved our time here! Vallea Lumina is an outdoor light show in the forest—a chance to reconnect with nature on a whole new level.

Where to Eat in Whistler

Skiing at Whistler
At The Grill Room

There are so many places to eat in Whistler that it’s tough to narrow down where to go. A few of our favorites were:

  • The Grill Room: This is the Fairmont’s signature premier restaurant. It’s a great place to come for special occasions as it’s intimate and has a delicious menu. We had reservations here on our last night in Whistler and loved it. From the appetizers to the wine list and entree, everything blew us away. The Grill Room specializes in steak, seafood, and chops. Many of its ingredients are sourced locally, and the beef is Canadian AAA Prime beef.
  • Wildflower: Wildflower is another restaurant at the Fairmont specializing in breakfast cuisine. Anyone staying at the Fairmont should head here before their long day out on the mountain.
  • Pizza Antico: Wow, I’m so happy we found out about this place. Pizza Antico dishes up amazing pizzas and craft beer. Every day from 3-5, they also have a great happy hour special. $8 CAD Margarita pizzas and $4 CAD beers – a steal in Whistler.
  • Peaked Pies: This small shop is an Austrian favorite serving sweet ad savory pies. Perfect for an after-ski snack.
  • Bar Oso: This is a tapas-style restaurant serving handcrafted cocktails and Spanish-influenced small plates.

Whistler Downsides

Skiing at Whistler
Lines on 7th Heaven Chair

After living and skiing in Canada for three years, we had heard some poor reviews of Whistler. Of course, we knew we had to go see what it was like for ourselves before making any judgment. We had an amazing four days skiing at Whistler. The terrain on offer blew me away, and even on busy days, I could still find some freshies. However, we heard two things about Whistler Blackcomb: it was expensive and crowded. Both are true.

Coming from Lake Louise, where people are already unhappy about paying $120 CAD a day for a lift ticket, and it’s super quiet, I was shocked at the high price of lift tickets. I’m sure part of the reason Whistler Blackcomb is so expensive is that it is two mountains offering extensive terrain, but honestly, we skied from 8:30 am to 4 pm every day and had plenty to do on just one mountain.

Although not terrible, the crowds were some of the most I have seen at a North American ski resort. Whistler is awesome, especially on a powder day. Everyone knows it. So expect to wait in a few lift lines and for fresh tracks not to last too long here. However, if you don’t mind waiting 10 minutes and know where to go to find pow, you’ll have an epic time.

Plan For Your Trip

About Natasha Alden

Natasha is the co-founder of The World Pursuit. She is an expert in travel, budgeting, and finding unique experiences. She loves to be outside, hiking in the mountains, playing in the snow on her snowboard, and biking. She has been traveling for over 10 years, across 7 continents, experiencing unique cultures, new food, and meeting fantastic people. She strives to make travel planning and traveling easier for all. Her advice about international travel, outdoor sports, and African safari has been featured on Lonely Planet, Business Insider, and Reader’s Digest.

Learn more about Natasha Alden on The World Pursuit About Us Page.

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