The skiing and snowboarding season for Whistler and Blackcomb is one of the longest in North America, often running for almost two hundred days from November to early June. The yearly average snowfall is an impressive 10m, while the average winter alpine temperature rarely falls below –5°C (compare this with a chillier –12°C in Banff). Whistler sits in an area of temperate rainforest, and rain can certainly be a problem at lower altitudes; but what falls as rain in the Village is often falling as snow higher up.
The mountains’ winter ski season runs from late November to late May. Whistler Mountain closes at the end of April and Blackcomb stays open in May. In late June to the end of July, Blackcomb Mountain opens for skiing and snowboarding on Horstman Glacier. Lifts open at 8.30am and close at 3pm until late January, and 4pm until late April. In May, Blackcomb is open from Mon–Fri 10am–4pm. The Tube Park on Blackcomb is open Mon–Fri noon–7pm and 11am–7pm at weekends and holidays from mid-Dec to early April (times are weather dependent).
Lift tickets give you full use of both Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, and it will take days for even the most advanced skier or snowboarder to cover all the terrain. The best advice is to pick one mountain and stick to it for the day, or use the PEAK 2 PEAK, a $50-million, 4.4km gondola suspended 436m above the valley floor that links the high alpine terrain mountains. Lift tickets include access to PEAK 2 PEAK and are available from the lift base in Whistler Village, the Upper Village on Blackcomb or at Creekside. Purchase tickets online ahead of time for the best rates and check lift times and other information at w whistlerblackcomb.com or book by phone on t 1 800 744 0449 toll free in North America or t 604 967 8950 internationally. Prices increase slightly in peak season – over Christmas and New Year and from mid-February to mid-March – and lift tickets are subject to a five-percent tax.
You can rent equipment online or by phone ahead of time, or on-site at numerous rental shops in Whistler Village, Creekside and Upper Village. Rental gear can be picked up the morning of your ski day or after 4pm the evening before to save time. Visit w whistlerblackcomb.com for booking information, alternatively Summit Ski (t 604 932 6225, t 1 866 608 6225, w summitsport.com) has several outlets around the Village, including the Hilton Whistler Resort (by the gondola).
Under-6s ski free. Daycare and full-day ski and snowboard lessons are available for children of all ages, as well as adults. Snow School lessons are all operated by Whistler Blackcomb and can be booked online.