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Whistler Blackcomb Travel Guide
Berg Lake © Jeff P
Consistently rated as the number one ski resort in North America and among the best in the world, the resort of Whistler Blackcomb is just a two-hour drive from the city of Vancouver in the Coast Mountain range.
The village of Whistler lies cradled in a valley between two mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb, that rise up 5,280ft (1,609m) to provide more than 8,100 acres of prime mountain terrain, including 12 alpine bowls and three glaciers.
There are more than 200 marked ski trails to enjoy while on holiday at Whistler Blackcomb. In fact, the state-of-the-art facilities at Whistler provided the cross-country, biathlon, Nordic combined, and ski jumping venues for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
The resort offers state-of-the-art lifts that can carry 60,000 skiers per hour to jump-off points throughout the area. With two million visitors coming on holiday to Whistler Blackcomb every year, such lift capacity becomes a necessity. Skiers and snowboarders flock here from the world over, not for the weather (which can often be wet and foggy) but for the exceptional variety of skiing.
The village of Whistler is set around a cluster of small lakes and is British Columbia's fastest-growing municipality. It boasts a quaint village atmosphere and offers shopping areas and après-ski restaurants bordered by squeaky-clean streets. In summertime, Whistler Blackcomb is a popular holiday destination when the focus shifts to outdoor activities like mountain biking, hiking, and fishing.
Snowfall is rare in the city of Vancouver, but is more than adequate for the ski slopes on the Coast Mountains to the north where Whistler is situated. As with all Canadian ski resorts, Whistler can get very cold so go prepared for the occasional blizzard.
In general though, temperatures are moderate throughout the winter season, rarely dipping below 12°F (-10°C) in the valley and 5°F (-15°C) on the peaks during the coldest part of the year. The average daily alpine temperature during most of the winter months is 22°F (-5°C).
Both the Whistler and Blackcomb mountains offer a huge variety of skiing for all standards of skiers. Generally, Whistler has more scenic alpine bowls while Blackcomb has more tree runs. Beginners will particularly enjoy the Green Line, a very long, gentle run from the upper terminal of the 7th Heaven Express in Blackcomb.
Whistler and Blackcomb also offer a massive choice of on- and off-piste skiing for intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders. Experts will be challenged by the black-diamond chutes running off the back of the Horstman glacier below the Mile High summit. Due to the crisp temperature, powder skiing in Whistler is often touted as the best in the world. Whistler and Blackcomb are very family friendly with child-minding services and all-day ski lessons for children.
If the glare of the snow becomes a bit too much while on holiday in Whistler Blackcomb, take time out to explore the shopper's paradise which is the village of Whistler. In the quaint plazas of Whistler Village, Upper Village, and Village North nestle about 150 attractive shops, boutiques, and art galleries, open seven days a week. Warm interiors beckon with a wide variety of merchandise, from native artwork and jewellery to high fashion for label lovers.
Comfortable and casual are the keywords for dining while on holiday in Whistler Blackcomb, with a choice of more than 80 top-class restaurants offering a variety of cuisines covering the flavours of the world. There are options from luxury fine dining to small bistros and cafés.
Whistler rocks with some of the best nightlife in British Columbia. Visitors on holiday in Whistler Blackcomb can browse the options presented in the holiday resort's news magazine, The Pique, which provides updated bar and nightclub listings every Thursday.
Live music, pool tables, sports bars, and even comedy clubs can be found in Whistler, in the collection of nightclubs, cocktail bars, and pubs. Whistler's public transportation system runs until about 3.30am to accommodate the nightlife crowd.
It is not all skiing and snowboarding. Whistler Blackcomb provides a host of other fun holiday diversions like cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, sleigh rides, dog sledding, snow-shoeing, and ice hockey. There are also spas offering beauty and massage treatments, excursions to Vancouver and other places of interest, eco-tours, and sightseeing trips on offer.
In summertime, the list of Whistler Blackcomb holiday activities is even longer, including horseback riding, guided fishing tours, glacier tours, jet boat adventures, zip-trekking, canoe trips, river rafting, and bungee jumping. The resort also boasts four championship designer golf courses, while children's programmes operate all year round.
In addition to the regular activities, there are frequently exciting sports events and festivals on at Whistler Blackcomb. For a number of days in April, the TELUS World Ski and Snowboard Festival entertains with high-energy action. Free outdoor concerts, demo days, and the World Ski and Snowboard Festival guarantee an action-packed celebration.
An eclectic menu of entertainment, music and magic fill the Whistler Blackcomb calendar from June through September, ensuring holiday fun for the entire family. The village comes alive with strolling musicians, dazzling magicians, and colourful comedians.
July means the Whistler Arts and Music Festival, showcasing local artist exhibits, street entertainers, art walks, outdoor films, and live music from jazz to calypso and funk to mariachi. Champion mountain bikers hurl themselves down Whistler Mountain at breakneck speeds and perform gravity-defying bike stunts during August's CrankWorx Festival.
As with all Canadian ski resorts, Whistler Blackcomb can get very cold so go prepared for the occasional blizzard. The resort can be overrun with young partygoers around the holidays, and shops and accommodation can be expensive.