Local Vibe

Local Vibe

Giving you the inside information on what’s happening, what’s fun, and what’s new in Whistler. Get updated on WB lift upgrades; learn more about Invictus Games coming to Whistler and have some fun with the language of snow.

WB Lift Upgrades Continue
Fitz Upgrade to Reduce Wait Times

Story by David Burke | Image Joern Rohde

The winter resort consistently ranked among the world’s best — THE best in one recent survey released by TripAdvisor — just keeps getting better.
Over the past few years, Vail Resorts — Whistler Blackcomb’s (WB) parent company — has brought forward several lift and on-mountain upgrades to reduce lift-line waits and improve the experience for skiers and riders.
Coming on the heels of last season’s Creekside Gondola and Big Red Express upgrades, the reopening of the Fitzsimmons Express chairlift was the most-anticipated on-mountain improvement for the 2023-’24 season. Upgrading “the Fitz” from a four-person to an eight-person lift “will cut back on wait times, improve uploading efficiency, and serve to significantly support Whistler Mountain Bike Park operations” starting next summer, WB officials said.

Work to upgrade Blackcomb’s Jersey Cream chair from a four-person to a six-person, high-speed lift is underway and expected to be completed in 2024.
Incidentally, the addition of the Blackcomb Gondola, combined with the Creekside and Peak to Peak gondolas, gave WB the distinction of having the world’s first continuous three-gondola lift system.

A recent change in WB’s front office saw Belinda Trembath, an Australian who previously led Vail’s operation at Perisher, the largest alpine resort in the Southern Hemisphere, named WB’s new chief operating officer.
Having previously skied WB as a guest, Trembath arrived in Whistler to begin her new role in May, when she immediately became immersed in all things Whistler. That included an introduction to the cultures of the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations, on whose shared traditional territory Whistler is located.
“I am immensely grateful for the chance to begin my learning journey here with the guidance of each Nation, and am committed to listening and learning, always,” she said via WB’s social media platforms, as reported in Australia-based Snowy Mountains Magazine.
She added, “I want to thank everyone — the Whistler Blackcomb team and the community — for such a warm welcome. What is clear is everyone’s shared love and passion for these mountains, and it’s been a pleasure to be immersed in that spirit.”


Invictus Games Coming to Town in 2025

Story by David Burke
Images Courtesy Invictus Games Vancouver
Whistler 2025 - Jeremy Allen

Next winter, Whistler will serve as co-host for the 2025 Invictus Games, welcoming some of the 550 athletes from 25 countries expected to compete in a hybrid format that includes, for the first time, several winter sports.
Founded in 2014, the Invictus Games Foundation has offered international wounded, injured and sick military service men and women and veterans a healing path forward through sport, providing opportunities on the road to recovery from both physical injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) resulting from their experiences in war zones.
The foundation, headed by former soldier and international patron Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, has hosted Invictus Games five times, the most recent in 2023 in Düsseldorf, Germany. From Feb. 8 to 16, 2025, Invictus athletes will compete in wheelchair curling, basketball and rugby, sitting volleyball, and swimming in Vancouver. Whistler will host competitors in skeleton, Alpine and Nordic skiing, snowboarding and biathlon.

Whistler has long been a pioneer in adaptive sports for those with sensory and mobility challenges. Since the late 1990s, the non-profit Whistler Adaptive Sports Program has helped those with physical, sensory or cognitive challenges lead healthy, active lifestyles “by breaking down the financial, physical and social barriers as well as creating skills that will lead to future employment within sport and beyond,” according to its website.

Next winter’s Invictus Games will be the second time Vancouver and Whistler have hosted global games for athletes with disabilities, following the successful 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.
Since 2010, the resort has redoubled its efforts to be welcoming and accessible. In 2022, Whistler Council adopted an Accessibility Action Plan that aims to eliminate barriers to full participation in the resort’s offerings. In the plan’s mission statement, the municipality “strives to continue to provide residents and visitors from around the world… with a seamless resort experience based not only on accessibility, but also on inclusivity.”
Invictus organizers recently announced a partnership with Whistler Blackcomb (WB) to host Invictus Games Vancouver Whistler 2025, which will take place on the mountains and at the Whistler Sliding Centre and Whistler Olympic Park.


“Inclusivity and accessibility are core to our culture at Whistler Blackcomb," said Belinda Trembath, WB’s chief operating officer. "Our partnership with Invictus Games Vancouver Whistler 2025 underscores the commitment we have made to these values.”


Local Lingo - The Language of Snow

Story by Katherine Fawcett | Image by Joern Rohde

Whistler winter conversation can be overwhelmingly flaky. From quality to consistency to quantity, snowfall makes this town tick, and it makes us talk. But to the uninitiated, it can seem a snow dictionary is necessary to decipher the lingo. In alphabetical order, here are some of the most popular and possibly most misunderstood snow terms that you might hear while in the lift lines.

Champagne powder: The driest of powder. Fluffy heaven.
Corduroy: Yes, like your pants. Freshly groomed snow. Corduroy is often found on groomers; it’s easy and fun to ski and ride.
Corn snow: Large snow crystals formed in melt/freeze cycles.
Crud: Various types of junk snow, unpleasant to ski on. A.k.a. Mank.
Crust: An ice layer on top of the snow.
Debris: Snow that slid downhill in an avalanche and hardened. Difficult to manoeuvre.
Dust on crust: A light covering of loose snow on top of hard snow; icy outer layer. A safety hazard.
Elephant snot: Huge flakes of thick, wet snow.
Fresh/Freshie(s): Snow that has not been tracked by other skiers or boarders. Nirvana.
Hard-packed: Old snow, packed solid from skiers, wind or sun. A.k.a. Cement.
Hero snow: Soft, melty, responsive snow that makes every turn feel easy. Like powder, but thick, supportive and fun.
Powder: Beautifully light, soft snow. A.k.a. Pow. Pow-pow. Fresh. White gold.
Slush: Snow that is starting to melt, and it's very heavy and wet.
Twenty-centimetre Rule: If there are 20 or more cm of fresh pow, you take the day off work or school and hit the slopes. Not my rule. But I must abide.
Washboard: Frozen corduroy. Sound effect: “g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g.”
Yellow snow: Exactly what you think. Snow that’s been peed on.