Winter in Whistler
By Evelyn Kuo & Narom Chea
The sky was brightening as I peeked through the blinds. Snowflakes filled the crisp air. The temperature was dropping. It was my first winter in Vancouver. I put on a thick coat and walked out to the yard. Looking up at the sky, I was charmed by the feeling of snow landing gently on my face.
I shook off the fine snow, but I could not shake off the blues. Feeling homesick, I decided to boost my spirits by taking a daytrip to world-renowned Whistler Mountain, affectionately dubbed “Little Switzerland of Canada.”
Whistler, a true winter wonderland, offers plenty for both skiers and non-skiers. There are challenging runs for skiers and snowboarders and lots of gorgeous scenery. Whistler Village is a charming alpine enclave with a plethora of great food and places to curl up with a hot drink.
Gliding Through the Air
The tour bus heading toward Whistler traveled along the
Sea to Sky Highway. As it ascended the mountain, the ground became snowier and huge trees loomed alongside us.
The wintry scene called to mind Christmas movies. The snow had stopped and the clouds had parted, making way for an awe-inspiring mountain view.
Upon arrival, I gathered my courage and rode the Peak 2 Peak Gondola from Whistler to nearby Blackcomb Mountain. The Peak 2 Peak Gondola is an unparalleled experience, an 11-minute, 4.4-kilometer journey that provides a bird’s-eye view of pristine landscape. The gondola is supported on just four pillars, and is a Guinness World Record holder for having the world’s longest unsupported span (about three kilometers).
At 436 meters above the valley floor, the highest lift of its kind, the Peak 2 Peak can make the fainthearted nervous. However, it is worth any jitters that may arise for when the magnificent volcanic peaks, coastal rainforests and ancient glaciers unfold before you, any trepidation soon dissipates.
Take a scenic helicopter ride and fly deep into the pristine and rugged landscape of this magical eco-playground. The spectacular peaks, ancient glaciers, hidden valleys and lakes, and stunning ice formations are absolutely gorgeous. It is impossible to look upon the scenery and not feel humbled by the raw power of Mother Nature.
Fly over stunning creeks and across sprawling snowfields, passing by coniferous forests and secret trails as you enjoy Mother Nature on the zipline. In some sections of the zipline trip, the trees are so dense and close that you could possibly kick the snow off the treetops.
The zipline cable is 1.3 kilometers long and 183 meters above the ground. Stepping off the observation deck and sliding down the suspended cable is a once-in-a-lifetime kindof thrill.
An alternative to skiing and snowboarding is cruising down the tubing hills at Blackcomb. With no equipment needed, it is an easy sport as long as you have a spirit for adventure and passion for thrill-seeking activities. Sitting in the huge snow tube and grabbing tightly on to the handles, I shrieked with exhilaration when it started its descent. When the speed is too fast to handle, close your eyes and simply enjoy the feeling of excitement.
Walking on Valley Trail will lead you to a gem of the wilderness — Lost Lake Park. The beautiful 525-acre park is surrounded by over 30 kilometers of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails and is a great destination for a winter picnic. It is a wonderful means of appreciating the beauty of ice-covered lakes, soaring mountains and snow-covered forests.
Village With a Vibe
Whistler Village is a bustling resort situated at the base of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. There are several neighborhoods connected by Valley Trail. It is worth taking a stroll to contemplate the beauty of the moment as you slow things down and wander down the lane, discovering vibrant local art, music and culture.
The arts-and-culture scene in Whistler is growing at a rapid pace. The new Cultural Connector route links six significant arts-and-cultural attractions: Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, Whistler Museum, Audain Art Musuem, Lost Lake PassivHaus, Maury Young Arts Centre, and Whistler Public Library. There are multiple private galleries in between that welcome visitors who wish to discover something deeper about the Nature-loving people and exquisite landscape of this majestic place.
Whistler seems a world away from urban life. However, it is only a couple of hours from Vancouver. It is a place where Mother Nature and people interact on a daily basis, and where respect for the land is central to life. Whistler has long been a haven for winter-sports enthusiasts from around the world, and for travelers who simply want to see some of the most stunning creations the natural world has to offer. Whether you are gliding down a slope or contemplating on a trail, Whistler makes a paradise of a winter’s day.