Snowboarding and skiing in Whistler are true bucket list items if you find yourself in this fantastic village. This is my in-depth guide to everything you need to know about skiing in Whistler. For a travel guide that discusses a full winter weekend in Whistler check out my post here.
when to go
Whistler-Blackcomb’s ski season runs from November through May. I’ve heard between Christmas and New Year’s it can be a bit of a traveler’s nightmare in Whistler due to the high volume of people on holiday. I was just skiing in Whistler during Vancouver’s spring break and while it was fairly crowded it wasn’t out of control.
purchasing a lift ticket
Depending on how long you plan to be skiing in Whistler will determine the lift ticket you may want to buy. Also note, if you plan ahead, you’ll save money. If you purchase your lift ticket at least three days in advance, then you’ll save money (how much will depend on how many days you are purchasing). For instance, 1 day costs $139 but only $120 with pre-purchase. Then take into account a 4 day pass is regularly $540 but only $450 with pre-purchase – you save almost $100! You can purchase online, on the phone, or in-person at the ticket windows.
There are dozens of choices in regards to renting ski and snowboard equipment. Overall, the prices are fairly similar and may vary by ~$15 depending on where you choose. I personally find it convenient to rent from somewhere near the base of the mountain. This way you aren’t lugging everything around early in the morning – or worse – at the end of the day after you’re exhausted from your day of skiing in Whistler.
All rental places (that I am aware of) offer packages which includes your skis, boots, and poles. Typically for an additional $10 you can rent a helmet as well. If you did not bring a helmet, you NEED to do so. Skiing in Whistler is no joke – this is an enormous mountain and you need to take proper safety precautions. Trust me, you look uncool if you’re not wearing a helmet here.
We rented from CAN-SKI at the bottom of the lift. They were very helpful getting me fit with the right equipment and sizes but when we asked for a place to store my boots, we found out they didn’t have storage. When I asked where they expect us to store our stuff they “didn’t know” and laughed. Immediate turn-off. We found lockers in the main building at the base of the mountain and paid a ridiculous $15 to rent a locker for the rest of the day. We didn’t have much choice since our hotel was at the other end of the village and I didn’t want Tyler running back and forth to get my boots. So be aware and ask rental places if they have storage (surprisingly many do not!).
If you feel more comfortable taking lessons than adventuring off on your own, the mountain has various ski schools throughout the day. They are all catered to any level and I believe most adult lessons are anywhere from private to four people, so you can get all of the attention you deserve!
knowing the trails
As I was when I went Night Skiing on Grouse Mountain, I was impressed with how large and clear the labels were. There is no mistaking whether a run was a green circle or a black diamond. There are also trail maps everywhere (even on the chair lifts when you put the bar down), which is great!
Overall, skiing in Whistler is a truly one-of-its-kind experience. It may not be for the faint of heart, but it will remain a great adventure to check of your bucket list.