Located 56km beyond Squamish and 125km from Vancouver, WHISTLER is Canada’s finest four-season resort, and frequently ranks as one of the world’s top-five winter ski destinations. Skiing and snowboarding are the main activities, but all sorts of other winter sports are possible and in summer the lifts keep running to provide supreme highline hiking and other outdoor activities (as well as North America’s finest summer skiing). It is a busy place – over two million lift tickets are sold here every winter, more than at any other North American resort. Fortunately, it also has one of the continent’s largest ski areas, so the crowds are spread thinly over the resort’s two hundred-plus trails and sixteen alpine bowls.
The resort consists of two adjacent but separate mountains – Whistler (2182m) and Blackcomb (2284m) – each with their own extensive lift and chair systems (but a joint ticket scheme). The mountains can be accessed from a total of five bases, including lift systems to both mountains from the resort’s heart, the purpose-built and largely pedestrianized Whistler Village, the tight-clustered focus of many hotels, shops, restaurants and après-ski activity. Around this core are two other “village” complexes, Upper Village (for the gondola to Blackcomb Mountain), about a kilometre to the northeast, and Village North, about 700m to the north. Around 6km to the south of Whistler Village is Whistler Creekside (also with a gondola and lift base), which has typically been a cheaper alternative but has undergone a fifty-million-dollar redevelopment that has seen its accommodation and local services duplicating those of its famous neighbour. Further development took place in the build-up to the 2010 Winter Olympics, largely based in Whistler.