Whistler Transportation


New member
My son and I are driving up to Whistler (first time) this coming Monday from Seattle.

I've always taken the precaution of renting a 4x4 when skiing SLC, but is this really necessary for Whistler with it's lower base elevation?

Also, since this is our first tine here, any recommendations about the area are always appreciated. Already have accommodations, etc lined up.
Our pal, Mark, a Whistler local and the veritable "Energizer Bunny On a Board", can chime in here with the real 411. :)

From my own limited experience, I suggest choosing to ski either Whistler or Blackcomb, but not both, in a single day. The transit time between the two is too costly in terms of time. Also, plan to spend most of your time in the upper mountain areas, so don't rely on returning to the base at any time. A daypack is real helpful here to pack extra layers, food, etc., because the distances are so vast. Basically, ski all day and only go down to the base at day's end ... save up some energy for that last run - it is very LONG! :D :D
jkamien":30cg1hyx said:
Basically, ski all day and only go down to the base at day's end ... save up some energy for that last run - it is very LONG!
Or simply download on the appropriate gondola, esp. if the lower mountain is sloppy or drenched in rain.
I will be skiing Whistler Jan. 10-13 in conjunction with the NASJA western regional meeting.

jkamien's advice about sticking to one hill per day is sound. Also, be very early getting on the mountain, especially on weekends. There can be a logjam for the initial lifts getting on the hill. Once you're up, people spread out and you have many choices where to ski.

Have some good yellow lenses. The alpine flat light is likely to be tough in January. I've never been there earlier than the end of February before, but even in April visibility isn't great up there sometimes. If you get a blue sky day, get up to the alpine fast and make the most of it. It is spectacular in terms of both views and skiing.
OHski":242zqwiz said:
My son and I are driving up to Whistler ... since this is our first tine here, any recommendations about the area are always appreciated. ...
A route that you may not have considered is to get off I-5 at Bellingham and follow route 539 north to the Lynden/Aldergrove port of entry. It's just a little further north to Trans Canda 1 (TC 1). Going west on TC 1 will feed right onto 99 that goes to Whistler. At this point TC 1 is about the same as a US Interstate. We've gone that way several times and have been told that it's a faster border crossing and avoids quite a bit of traffic, than one would incounter by going straight up I-5 to the Blaine crossing. We have encountered some bumper to bumber traffic during rush hour, but I'm sure it would be as bad or worse going via Blaine.

Have a good trip.
/s/ Cliff
Thanks for the quick and helpful responses. I'll follow up with a trip report later.

We're skiing Tuesday through Friday so weekend crowds aren't a concern. I am curious how early one should be at the lift to avoid a wait.. 1/2 hour prior?

I'll also check into the alternate routing mentioned by Idaho Cliff.

A couple of suggestions I've heard elsewhere are: Blackcomb is the better bet when visibility is low (not clear to me why). and bring garbage bags to wear during the wait for the first ride up if it's raining at the base (weather looks good for this not to happen).

Thanks again!
I know I am writing probably after you have returned from your trip. But, I couldn't help add a few things.

Blackcomb Glacier. It is not terribly difficult, but if you hit a sunny powder day, it is amazing. (The very top is black, but even my 4 yr. old did it.) We skied it during spring break in 18-24" of new powder. It was 25 deg. F at the base. Sunny. It was amazing. It was my kids first time skiing real powder (not just fresh snow) deeper than 8". They were falling for fun. Because you have to hike up, there are a lot fewer people there and we were able to make fresh tracks the majority of the way down. It is our families favorite run of their life (on that specific day)

Why do they suggest skiing Blackcomb on the less sunny days? I think it is because the vistas from Whistler are more beautiful; however, I like a lot of the skiing at Blackcomb better. My kids and I loved Blackcomb's gladed runs. Both have their pros....with very few cons! We are going back this year. However, I am not a big fan of the "Peak to Creek" run. We ran into a ton of ice...so it might have been specific to that day.

Hope you enjoyed your trip!
hey there - hope you had a good trip. sorry i missed adding info earlier. can't go wrong right about now. we've had great consistent snow and temps since the end of december.
everyone's got their mountain preference, mine is whistler, except in foul weather when the alpine lifts are closed. in that case there is probably more / better mid mountain tree skiing on blackomb. i've also found that lift lines are generally shorter on blackomb, except maybe at 7th heaven on sunny days.
as for driving, the roads are well cleared most of the time, but if you happen to arrive or leave during a blizzard it can get real ugly especially with all the folks who aren't prepared for winter driving.

here's my blog from our hike to flute today - first sunny day this year.

http://marksboringwhistlerreport.blogsp ... ebird.html
How often does that Symphony chair run? Ralph (Extremely Canadian guide) thought only about 1/3 of the time so far this season.
1/3 of the time seems like a generous estimate. the first time it ran this year was after xmas i think, and since then it only seems to run on days where there is unlimited visibility and zero snow in the forecast - how often does that happen in whistler?? that thing was a colossal waste of money since most of the terrain it serves probably has a 10% gradient or less. the only thing it does is save me a long hike out from flute.
my guess is that they are afraid to run it on bad vis days because if people somehow miss the base they are off into the abyss of fitzsimmons creek. my other theory is that since the new ownership took over they are looking to cut operating costs. they also seem to only be grooming peak to creek once a week or less, whereas last season it was twice weekly for the whole season.
It cuts out the 20 minute hike out of Flute, but also some of the hike up. Ralph thought it was chronically windy at the top of that lift, but Mammoth regulars like me usually snicker when other areas close lifts for wind.

I know it's been snowing nonstop for the last month, but would that 1/3 open fraction have applied for all of last season too? Even Bachelor's Summit runs about 50% of the time (with way cheaper management than Whistler), and no way Symphony is even close to that in wind or visibility issues.
I can hardly believe that a ski company run by a Private Equity firm installed a lift ($4M+) and does not run it. Or just 1/3 of a time.

I feel like the terrain is low intermediate heaven and they do not want to encourage them to go out there on fair-to-poor days.

What a bust if otherwise.
For those of you who ski Whistler often, (I have only been there twice, each time for only a week), what condition is peek to creek usually in? We go stuck on it and it was horribly icy. And to put this in perspective, we are from Michigan ....my kids and I know how to ski a moderate amount of ice without even thinking about it. The quote of the day was my 7 yr. old screaming, "I only like to ski ice in Michigan!" They ended up sliding down on their bums most of the way. I kid you not, it was solid ice.

It wasn't our best day. Farther up the hill, my 7 yr. old daughter got hit by a male adult skier (she was the downhill skier). That kind of set the mood for the rest of the run also. She was hit hard enough that the man went down in a sled. Fortunately, although my daughter was shaken, she was ok.

Should we try it again this spring....or, avoid it like the plague? (My kids are pretty decent skiers. Last year they were sking blues and easier blacks at Whistler/Blackcomb...ie. Little Whistler bowl, Arthor's Choice, Ziggy's Meadow, etc.) So, Peak to Creek wasn't too challenging of a pitch for them. This year they have already skied 17 times this year. We get out a lot (sometimes only for a couple of hours).

Also, any amazing resturants? We like ethnic food, sushi, anything different and/or fun. We usually eat breakfast in the room, pack a lunch, then splurge for dinner....doesn't have to be fancy, doesn't have to be cheap....just looking for great food.

you gotta choose your days carefully on peak to creek. if you can hit it after a nice snowfall when the groomers went through the night before, it can be a great run. those rolls can make you feel like a world cup downhiller.
but as i said, this year it seems that they are only grooming once a week, which means if you hit it after day 2, you're looking at a combination of mega moguls and scraped down hardpack.
the other problem is that it runs from 1800m down to 700m which means the snow could be nice up top and crap at the bottom, or the vis could be crap up top and decent at the bottom, etc.
your best bet is to check the grooming list on the days you're heading up, or just avoid it altogether.

as for food, here are my recommendations:

1. sachi sushi. best sushi and reasonable price (for whistler). reservation usually required. mango roll, sachi roll, spider roll, mmmmm
2. rimrock cafe. it's in nordic so you have to drive there. best meals i've ever had, but it's pricey. worth the cost. reservation required.
3. hoz's. in creekside, mexican pub style. good burritos and they serve fresh made nachos as appetizers.

all the restaurants that i've tried are pretty good, but those three stand out to me. ric's grill has excellent steak, but maybe only worth it in the shoulder seasons on special. i found araxi to be overpriced, but the food was good. elements offers an interesting variety, and the lox bene is awesome for breakfast.
Thanks Mark,

I will keep an eye on the grooming schedule. Moguls and hard pack don't bother us....but, it was even icy over by the trees. It was a really sunny week. Maybe it is the direction of the hill? Anyway....watching for it on the grooming schedule would probably be the solution.

Thanks for the resturant tips. We probably won't have a car/SUV this time. Last time we had a hard time fitting all of our stuff in the SUV at the airport, and that was with shipping a few things out ahead (I have 3 kids & a husband). This time we are doing van/bus transportation. (We never really needed the car.) But, I will look up the others!

By the way....I really love Whistler/Blackcomb. And, I have skied quite a few other places out west (Summit county, Utah, Vail/Beaver Creek, Aspen, etc.) You are very fortunate to be from there :D
I've been to RimRock (on 67 cent Canadian $ in 1998) and no question quality is outstanding. One of the locals recommended and we enjoyed Pasta Lupino. Good for families but it's small and you might have to wait awhile if you are there at a busy time.

Peak-to-Creek should not be hard to figure out. You'll know from the runouts to Whistler Village or Creekside if lower mountain snow is any good. It was last week, so I had these delusions of untracked pow for 3,000 vertical. Instead I got a challenging but still fun marathon of powder over bumps on Big Timber.

In spring I would stick to the day Peak to Creek is groomed and assess the transitional snow by time of day. In 1991 I hit the Dave Murray downhill down to Creekside around 2PM in nearly untouched groomed corn. That's what you should shoot for.

Chris is probably right about Symphony. I suspect it's open more and more often later in the season. Like Bachelor's Summit. I also suspect that with the chair there, I'd be willing to do the Flute hike on a nice day.
I have friends with a house Creekside where I've been crashing regularly since the mid-1980's. Skiing out to the bottom of old Whistler sucks. It's like bad eastern skiing and there aren't enough acres to stand up to the skier traffic so it's a mess in the late afternoon when I get to it.

I agree with what was said above about Blackcomb being the place to go on cloudy days. The mid-mountain tree band gives you great contrast and there's plenty of interesting terrain. On the Whistler side, most of the widely spaced tree skiing is off the Emerald quad and it's low pitch with a big lift line. I've been there for weeks when I never saw the sun and never left mid-mountain Blackcomb. I like the terrain that dumps you out on that infinite traverse out of the Blackcomb glacier. Things like Outer Limits and the creek bed below the Crystal chair. The short tree shots off the traverse over to the 7th Heaven lift are also usually a great skiing surface since most people ignore them.
This is one of my favorite ski town restaurants.
Sushi Village

It's been around forever, but how can you screw up when your source is fantastic - daily from the Pacific? The colors of the fish are brighter.

Anyways, I think it is one of the best in the NW. The Seattle paper did a test for a bacteria that should be alive in sushi/fish if it has never been frozen -- and at 70% of sushi joints it was dead -- meaning the fish was frozen at some point. Seattle should have a better opportunity for fresh fish than other cities.
Sachi Sushi (recommended by Mark) was founded by some of the people who worked at Sushi village, and is reportedly just as good, but cheaper and less crowded, due to North Village location.

We stayed at Creekside in 1998. With more development there the main runs leading down there did get more chewed up with skier traffic than in 1991. I would expect less density on Peak to Creek, but in spring it could still be an ordeal. Get some timely local info before you try it.