Whistler: Welcome to Sea to Sky Country

WHISTLER Welcome to Sea to Sky Country

By David Burke / Images By Joern Rohde

Canadian Snowmobile Adventures, Blackcomb Mountain, winter.

The lifting of most Covid-related travel restrictions has spurred a desire to spread our wings and visit somewhere relaxing — or exhilarating, eye-popping, adventurous and perhaps educational. Whistler and its surroundings offer all of that and more — the perfect place to shake off two years’ worth of cobwebs and stretch our travel legs. Sunny afternoons by the lake, hiking in the alpine, a barbecue and drinks on the patio… there is just so much here and so many options for recreation and relaxation that you can’t go wrong.

For many, the resort community is all about skiing and snowboarding. It was, after all, the Host Mountain Resort for the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. But many locals and an increasing number of resort visitors believe that Whistler is just as great a place to be in the summer and fall as in winter.

From golf to hiking to mountain biking (both downhill and cross country) to ziplining and bungee jumping to paddling down a mountain stream… the opportunities are virtually limitless. And guess what? The term “après” is also applicable in the summer, with lots of places to chill your heels and enjoy a meal, a cool drink on the patio, or an evening out with friends after that daytime adventure.

What’s more, the summer of 2022 marks the return of many of Whistler’s most popular pre-pandemic events. whistler.com

Whistler Blackcomb, skiing, snowboarding.
Whistler Blackcomb, downhill skiing, snowboarding.

For centuries, the Whistler Valley was hunting and berry-picking territory for the Squamish and Lil’wat peoples. The first European fur trappers, loggers and miners arrived in the late 1800s. In 1914, the same year the Pacific Great Eastern Railway began operating, Myrtle and Alex Philip put the community (then known as Alta Lake) on the tourism map when they opened Rainbow Lodge, a summertime fishing establishment that quickly caught on with visitors from across Canada.

Franz Wilhelmsen and his business partners arrived in 1960 with a vision to make what was then known as London Mountain the host mountain for alpine events at the 1968 Games. With a name change to Whistler Mountain, the ski hill opened in 1966, but the Olympic dream didn’t come to fruition until 2003 when Vancouver and Whistler were chosen to host the 2010 Games. You can find vestiges of Whistler’s Olympic legacy, with several sets of Olympic rings and “Inukshuks,” stylized Inuit rock cairns that served as the “welcome” symbol of the Games.

Whistler winter, Olympic Plaza

Whistler’s growing place as a mecca for arts and culture has been punctuated by the opening in recent years of world-class facilities such as the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre (SLCC) and Audain Art Museum (AAM). The SLCC (slcc.ca) showcases the vibrant cultures of the two First Nations on whose traditional territories Whistler stands, while the AAM (audainartmuseum.com) features both a permanent collection, including works by Emily Carr and E.J. Hughes as well as visiting exhibitions.

The world-leading Whistler Mountain Bike Park is just one of the many on-mountain attractions. In 2008, the record-setting Peak 2 Peak Gondola opened, linking Whistler and Blackcomb mountains; and in 2019, the completion of the Blackcomb Gondola gave Whistler the distinction of having the world’s first three-gondola lift connection. In addition, the high alpine of Whistler Mountain features the 130-metre-long Cloudraker Skybridge and the Raven’s Eye, a cantilevered walkway that extends out from a ridge near the top of the Peak Chair on Whistler Mountain, affording guests unrivalled, 360-degree views.

whistler Blackcomb, Peak 2 Peak Gondola, skiing.

For an exhilarating workout, hikers (even trail runners!) can test their fitness on the Blackcomb Ascent Trails, three interconnected trails that wind through coastal forests from the valley bottom to either the Blackcomb Gondola mid-station or 1,200 vertical metres (3,937 feet) to the Rendezvous Lodge. Guests can enjoy lunch or refreshments before riding the gondola back down in climate-controlled comfort. whistlerblackcomb.com

Whistler is home to five pristine lakes, each with its own unique character and the chance to go for a dip or hang out on the beach. One of the most popular summertime activities is paddling on the meandering River of Golden Dreams that links Alta and Green lakes. Several companies offer boat rentals and both guided and unguided excursions. whistler.com

Have a need for speed? You can quench that thirst with a bobsleigh ride on the world’s fastest sliding track, the Whistler Sliding Centre. The track, which hosted bobsleigh, luge and skeleton events during the 2010 Olympics, offers rides with trained pilots in five-person, wheeled sleds that reach speeds up to 90 kilometres (55 miles) per hour. whistlerslidingcentre.com

Whistler Olympic Plaza, where medal ceremonies took place during the 2010 Olympics and Paralympics, is a great place to pull out the Frisbee and enjoy a picnic or a drink purchased from a nearby café in the shadow of the Olympic rings.
Whistler also has a spa, dining and nightlife experience for every occasion. So, whether it’s relaxation or thrills you’re seeking, there’s no shortage of opportunities for summertime enjoyment here. Welcome!

For help in planning your visit to Whistler, go to whistler.com.