The world famous and renown, Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, situated just hours north of Vancouver, Canada, is known as on of North America’s leading ski resorts. These two mountain ranges rise majestically over a valley to produce one of the best skiing conditions available anywhere in the world, with well over a vertical mile up to the peak. So imagine if you had just a single day to ski. Which mountain would you choose? Some will head for the Whistler Village Gondola or the Creekside Gondola, both which head up Whistler Mountain, while others will head for the Excalibur gondola or the Wizard chair, the main lifts for Blackcomb mountain. So what are some of the differences? What type of skier would choose one mountain over the other? Is there any visible difference between the two mountains?
For Those Powder Days (for experienced skiers)
If the weather gods bless the mountain and the day with fresh powder snow, there is little question that Whistler Mountain is then the mountain of choice, especially for those expert skiers. There are just two words that explain why: Peak Chair. The Peak Chair on Whistler Mountain gives access to an immense variety of off-piste, (off piste – A piste is a term given to marked ski runs or paths down a mountain for skiing or snowboarding), runs to cater for powder skiers. (NOTE: If you are an advanced skier, you can head to Air Jordan, a huge leap off a cliff involving a 50 foot drop landing onto a point that’s only 60 foot square. Once landing, there is another descend that’s 40 feet to the soft snow below. If you miss your first landing, you are unfortunately looking at several months in hospital). There is no such lift on Blackcomb Mountain to compare to the powder terrain available by the Peak Chair.
Those Powder Days (for the rest/most of us)
Less accomplished novice skiers who like the powder, mostly head for the Blackcomb Glacier lift. This is a fabulous yet enormous bowl where you can find fresh tracks, two hours after the lift has opened. While the over-ambitious skier can easily do themselves a bit of damage in the assorted couloirs and cliffs off the Peak Chair, they won’t do that much harm on the Blackcomb Glacier.
Those Darn Stormy Days
When the weather goes bad and is stormy where winds of up to 70km/hour are beating up and battering the high alpine, then its very likely that the uppermost lifts are closed. The Glacier Chair and Seventh Heaven lifts on Blackcomb Mountain will be closed for sure, as well as the T-bars on the Horstmann Glacier. Crystal Chair will also closed. This will leave most of the interesting terrain available on Blackcomb Mountain inaccessible. But, on Whistler Mountain, even if the Peak and the Harmony Chairs are closed, you will still have access to the Village gondola, Big Red, the Garbanzo Chair, and the Emerald Express. These lifts will remain open for any weather conditions regardless. The Garbanzo lift in particular gives access to many tree sheltered runs that can be great in a storm.
Yes, For Those Sunny Skiing Days
The majority of both Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains face either north or west, thus receiving the sun only obliquely. This is one of the reasons why the snow will last a long time. However, when it’s cold, yet a sunny day, (which is a common occurrence especially during the Whistler winter), you want the sun shining to soften up the off-piste, and to keep you as warm as possible. During these times, you want to be on the Seventh Heaven, which is the only major slope on Whistler mountain that faces south.
Both Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountains are well covered with a lot of trees on the bottom two thirds of the terrain. However, Whistler mountain has the edge in terms of the better areas of treed terrain. The runs such as Club 21 or Sidecut on Whistler are equally similar to Bark Sandwich on Blackcomb, but the tree runs off the Peak Chair on Whistler can’t be compared.
If you like to do ski runs on short intervals between lengthy café cognac breaks, or those who deem lunch is a vital central part of the day, then Whistler mountain in this department has little to offer, so you will most likely spend more time on Blackcomb Mountain. Not too many of the restaurants in Whistler are known to have much atmosphere, where Blackcomb mountain has a few that are marginally better, such as: Christine’s in the Rendezvous and the Crystal Hut.
So either Whistler or Blackcomb both have their own pro’s and con’s. Each mountain is better and known for certain conditions and for certain types of skiers.