Quick Whistler report - 1st real lesson/1st powder
March 12, 2007
Quick Whistler report - 1st real lesson/1st powder
Just got back from my 5th trip there and I think I enjoy it more every time I go. Back before my first trip 10 years or so ago I hooked up with a couple guys who lived up there who had just started their own travel/concierge company and once again they came through with flying colors. (Be more than happy to provide a reference if wanted but since I dont know the rules about posting company websites I'll leave it out of my post for now.) I think they have 6 people working for them now but they are really great to deal with. Just take care of every last detail, will set up and make reservations for whatever kind of activity you want or even take you out skiing for a day.
Travel - piece of cake. 5 hour nonstop flight from Dulles. 2 hour drive from the airport to Whistler. It seems like a lot of travel but for some reason the nonstop flight makes a huge difference.
Lesson - Although I have been skiing for @ 25 years now, I never took a real lesson before this week - last one I took was maybe when I was 6 or 7 years old. I grew up in a small town in NH with an even smaller ski hill. Parents would drop me off, I would ski and just sort of learned on my own. But after all that time man do I have some bad habits. Sure I can make it down the blue runs in one piece but I figured a lesson was finally in order. Decided on the half day private lesson and WOW what an amazing difference. Right away the instructor got my upper body into more of an "attack" position (poles much more in front of me than I used to) and it made an immediate difference in the control I had. I mean it was over the course of one or two runs I saw a huge difference in the terrain I could ski and more importantly how much confidence I had. Best decision I made so far this year (other than buying boots at Ski Center - and buying and wearing a really good helmet). Wish I had gone back at the end of the week as she offered to do a half day beginner bumps lesson. Thinking of going there this summer to do that as they ski year round on the glacier.
Powder - One of the aforementioned guys I know that lives up there took me out Wednesday morning for first tracks after a huge dump Tuesday night. I will admit I was pretty nervous given the amount of snow they got. Again having grown up on the East Coast the most powder I had skied in was maybe covering my skis and even then that was probably manmade stuff you were pushing around. Wow, this was freaking incredible. I mean, right up to your shins and then over your knees. I laughed and hooted outloud the whole morning as powder just blasted everywhere and it was still snowing. Definitely had a few spectacular wipeouts as well which were actually enjoyable as opposed to the same thing on hardpack snow (and see previous comment on comfortable helmet!). When we were taking the last lift (Glacier Chair) up to the top you could hear everyone hooting and giggling like little kids and watch everyone ski in the bowls, huck of cliffs and trees, just a really cool atmosphere. Great to be with a guy who skis there 100+days a year too. He showed me a few pointers on how to ski powder but more importantly was showing me all sorts of great runs and lines to take off the lifts. He was telling me that maybe 60% of the runs/lines on the mountains are actually marked on the trail map but with so many bowls and open areas, there were tons of neat little cut throughs and lines that we found that I only would have seen skiing with a local. I definitely took notes on my trail map when I got home.
Weather / Snow - Typical of every time I have been there. Whistler can be a very wet climate at this time of year and it did rain a few times while we were there. But when the village gets rain it is snowing a third of the way up the mountain and the top can be gorgeous sun and fresh snow. I dont know the stats exactly but I think the village is around 2000 feet elevation, freezing level tends to be 3000 feet and the peak is 7500 feet or so. It does stink walking around in the rain I wont lie. But its great because the average tourist wakes up and says "Eh, its raining, I'll stay home" while the locals are running for the lifts. Three or four lifts later you are in clear weather with incredible fresh snow and just ski the top third or so of the mountain for the day before downloading.
Conditioning - meaning, personal. I really worked for four months or so leading up to the trip on running 3 - 4 times a week and working on leg exercises to get in better shape and I still cant handle 6 straight days of skiing at altitude. Most I could do was 4 - 5 hours a day before wearing down. Honestly that ended up not being bad. We would ski from 830 - 1 or so, hit the hot tub, grab a late lunch and then head out for beers. Granted some of the top to bottom runs are long but I really need to work year round before trying to ski a whole day in powder like that again. Holy hell that was hard.
Town - great ski town. Tons of fantastic restaurants from hole in the walls to 5 star. Getting to know my way around which is really nice as well.
Rant - Only bad thing was these freaking Oakley A-Frame goggles I keep getting sucked into buying. This is the 3rd pair I have taken to Whistler and the third pair that have crapped out when skiing there. Maybe because Whistler is so humid or what I dont know, but no matter what I do after 3-4 days it gets condensation in between the lenses and gets this sort of frozen/permanent fog there that you cant fix. The two ski shops I went to there said they see this all the time with the double lenses there. Dont know what that means other than to find some pairs of single lense goggles to buy. I sent an email to Oakely on the way home but dont expect to hear anything.
Just love being up there, wife and I are already thinking about a condo or timeshare week for next year. Next trip I will finally try heliskiing. Have wanted to go every time I have gone there but just never did it. Oh well, something to look forward to.
Happy to answer any questions.