By Steve Giordano
Price: $$$ Number of Runs: 200 Number of Lifts: 37 Terrain: 20% beginner, 55% intermediate, 25% advanced Skiable Acreage: 8,171 Vertical Rise: 5,280 feet Season: November to June Annual Snowfall: 360 inches Web Site: http://www.whistlerblackcomb.com/
Welcome to Whistler Blackcomb, Land of Oz. Oz? Isn't that the nickname for Australia? The Down Under accents on the slopes here will convince you that half the skiers and snowboarders in Australia spend their summer (our winter) on these mountains. Besides, like Oz, Whistler is a magical place -- especially when the guy behind the curtain lets the sun out. The stats foreshadow the enormity of the possibilities.
Whistler and Blackcomb are separate mountains and were once separate, competing resorts. The ski runs on both bottom out in the resort village of Whistler. It can be a real crapshoot as to what the weather will be like here, but there is generally a 100-inch-plus snowpack all winter long.
Lift riders may pass through three separate weather systems on their way to the 7,500-foot summits. Whistler Village (at a mere 2,140 feet) can be soaked with rain, with the peaks bathed in sunshine and a soupy fog sandwiched in-between.
A surprise for Blackcomb beginners is a sinuous run called Greenline. It takes off to the right from Horstman Hut, at the upper terminal of Seventh Heaven Express and follows the natural contours of the mountain from top to bottom on daily-groomed trails. It's a thrilling way for novices to enjoy big mountain skiing. Beginner runs branch off from nearly every chairlift on both mountains, but the upper reaches also sport some of the most extreme skiing terrain in North America.
Now that Whistler and Blackcomb are both owned by Intrawest Corporation, lift tickets are single-issue, usable on both mountains. Whistler Blackcomb ambiance favors the destination skier, and many come from Japan, Europe, eastern Canada, and the United States.
What's New: This year Whistler Blackcomb invests $14.2 million on improving terrain; Whistler Mountain will have an additional 1,100 acres of new terrain and Blackcomb Mountain has a new Superpipe, lit for night skiing and riding. Article © Away.com. All rights reserved.