opinion sports

An Expert’s Guide to Skiing at Whistler Blackcomb Mountain

Are you a beginner skier? intermediate skier? double-black diamond skier? Whistler Blackcomb Mountain offers ski runs for boarders / skiers of all ages and difficulty levels. Here are some of my favorite trails.

Every ski run is marked with a symbol and color: green circle, blue square or black diamond. But what does this all mean? If you are a long-time skier and mountain veteran, you might be familiar with decoding the Ski Slope Rating Symbols. However, if you are a beginner or new to mountain trails, here is a rundown of what these markers signify:

GREEN CIRCLE = These runs are the easiest terrain on the mountain, usually spacious and wide runs. They also have a gradient of less than 25% which means that they are not steep. I would recommend these types of runs for anyone who is new to the sport (they are also typically family-friendly).

BLUE SQUARE = Are you able to turn and control your speed? These trails might be suitable for your level. The blue square signified an intermediate trail for those who have had a few years of experience under their belt, or for beginners looking for a challenge. These runs have a gradient between 25%-40%, which means they are a bit more challenging than your typical green run.

BLACK DIAMOND = Beware, these trails are for those who are more advanced skiers. If you do not feel confident going down steep terrain and challenging features, I would not recommend these runs for you. But, if you can, congrats!

So… where is Whistler Blackcomb Mountain located?

Great question, it is located an approximate two hour drive from the City of Vancouver, British Columbia. Located on the northwestern side of Garibaldi Provincial Park, this ski resort is based in the Fitzsimmons Range of the Coastal Mountains.

Whistler and Blackcomb are two side-by-side mountains, offering over 200 marked runs, 8,171 acres of terrain, 16 alpine bowls and 3 glaciers combined, receiving 1,181 centimetres (465 inches) of snow on average annually.

Whistler Blackcomb

How much does it cost to ski here?

It is definitely not cheap, but I believe that spending a weekend here would be worth every penny. There are a few options in terms of lift tickets. Plus, if you don’t own your own gear then you can definitely rent some in the village.

Note: the current prices are not listed on the website due to COVID-19 because the hill is closed.

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What are the skiing basics?

If you are new to skiing, concentrate on learning the basics and eventually the rest will follow. It’s okay to fall down. I remember learning how to snowboard for the first time and my knees were black and blue by the end of the day. Just remember that everyone on the hill has started at the beginning. So, don’t feel discouraged if you see someone who is skiing faster or better than you! Keep in mind that although it may be a quick sport to learn, it will also takes years to master.

But, for now, here are some of tips to help start you off on this journey:

The Equipment

First and foremost: What are you strapping to your feet? Several things: proper ski boots, decent skis, and bindings.

Typically, at ski resorts, there are places to rent this equipment on the mountain. It will cost money, but at least the equipment you are getting will be high quality. Make sure to wear long ski socks when you rent your equipment. This will help you determine which boots fit your feet and you will be able to immediately jump on the chairlift afterwards.

If you are also a beginner, you will have the option to rent poles. I would not recommend this for those who are new at the sport since it is important to practice your balance. Poles may help support you, but they can also be dangerous if you don’t know how to use them properly.

In terms of clothes, you will want to make sure that you are wearing a warm enough jacket for the conditions. Check the mountain’s app or website before loading yourself onto the gondola. You don’t want to get frostbite!

First Steps on the Mountain

Alright, so now you are all set up with your equipment! The choice to get lessons is completely up to you. It may be helpful if you are just starting out, but once you feel comfortable making turns, you can definitely learn and practice on your own.

You may also want to begin practicing on a green or blue run. Don’t attempt a double-black if you are a beginner, you might just get stuck on the mountain.

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If you are on the “bunny hill” (term to describe a wide, beginner run), here are some tips for parallel turning:

  1. Bring your weight across onto both skis.
  2. Keep your skis parallel to each other (think: french fries)
  3. The more your skis are perpendicular to the slope the more they edge, and the more they control your speed.
  4. Turn and face your skis down the mountain
  5. Now, shift your weight to your uphill ski and turn your shoulders in the direction that you want to go.
  6. Don’t forget to look ahead for obstacles
  7. Viola, you have made a turn!

Where should you go on the mountain?

It is important that anyone stepping onto the mountain knows where the easier trails and the harder ones are located. Typically, for those who are beginners, there are sections near the base of the mountain to help fine-tune and practice your skills. These areas usually have slower chairlifts / gondolas and magic carpets (a conveyor belt on the snow that move you to the top of the hill).

However, if you become more advanced or are seeking a challenge, riding on a chairlift to the peak of the mountain will give you access to some of the steeper terrain. These areas do have green / blue runs, but they may not connect all the way down to the bottom of the hill. For this reason, map out your route ahead of time!

Learning to ski or snowboard can be a tiring and sometimes even painful process, but it also extremely rewarding. If you liked this content and would like more articles on skiing, leave a comment below.


Liked this post? Check out my article Tips for Solo Female Travel.

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