Whistler, Canada

I won't be able to see the summer Olympics in Beijing but look where I am now, at the venue of the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Whistler, Canada. The big event is still 2 years away in 2010 but I don't mind getting a sneak preview of what this premier mountain resort in North America can offer.

Getting here from Vancouver is two hours by car via a very scenic Highway 99 (or better known as Sea-To-Sky Highway). So much can be seen along the way that it's very tempting to stop and gawk at all those postcard-pretty vistas of the mountains and the sea.

The Sea....
...To Sky Highway

The resort municipality of Whistler is right at the base of Blackcomb and Whistler mountains and surrounded by the other peaks of the Coast Mountain range in British Columbia. At the very heart of this resort town is Whistler Village, consisting mostly of hotels, inns, restaurants and shops designed like chalets.

In preparation for the Winter Olympics, Whistler is already abuzz with construction frenzy - there are more accommodations being built and event sites are being spruced up. Even the Sea-To-Sky Highway is getting a much needed makeover: the widening of the roads mean less hair-raising encounters on those narrow cliff-side portions.

Whistler Village Square

With me on this trip are my friends Jojo and Eric, both Fil-Canadians living in Vancouver. After checking-in at our hotel in the village, we went to explore the pedestrian-only Village Stroll. It didn't take long for me to realize how the village looks like straight out from Switzerland.

Having bought our tickets for the Excalibur Gondola last night, we went after breakfast to the queue for the ride into the upper slopes of Blackcomb mountain. I have heard that hiking down from the mountain was the alternative on the way back but Guest Relations advised us not to try due to snow. Oh well, I should go here in the middle of summer next time.

Excalibur Gondola
Excelerator Chair

The gondola took us to an elevation of 3,707 feet. On our way up, a black bear appeared on a clearing but it disappeared before I could fire away with my camera *sigh*. We transferred to the Excelerator Chair, an exhilarating ride on a chair lift that move us up just above Glacier Creek (5,069 feet). Up at this level, intermediate skiers and snowboarders do their runs down the mountain and repeating their dose of thrilling fun all day long. Lift tickets start at $52 for one day.

For us who are merely sightseeing, ticket for the gondola/chair lift was $20.99 for a day filled with mountain views. During summer, there's a chance to go up the peak of adjacent Whistler Mountain appropriately called The Peak Adventure for $31.95 plus taxes.

Mountain Biking

When we got back down at the valley, we saw mountain bikers taking the lift to Whistler mountain via Fitzsimmons Express. Hard-core ones among them come armor clad with contraptions that make them look like robo-cops. Just like the slopes on which skiers/snowboarders run, bike trails have fancy names like Schleyer, Crack Addict, Devil's Club, Original Sin, and No Joke.

This being a weekend thankfully blessed with a sunny spring weather, many visitors tried their hands and feet on other activities available in town. There's rafting, canoeing, ATV riding, fishing, zip-lining and bungee jumping. With all these choices, Whistler is truly an adrenaline junkie's heaven.

1 comment:

  1. I'd love to move to Vancouver because of it's more temperate winters compared to Toronto!


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