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Old 03-19-2012, 06:20 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Trip Report: Whistler vacation

I'm at Whistler for 5 days with the family. Going to try to see as much of the mountain as I can, but I've only got 4 riding days.

Anyway, day 1:

I got to the line-up For the Wizard Express about 8:15. I was pleased to find that they were already loading people. None of this don't-open-a-second-early BS like some mountains. I was in the line-up maybe 2 minutes. In fact all day, I doubt I had to wait more than a couple of minutes to get on anything. Gotta love weekdays!

The Wizard Express took me to the Solar Coaster lift which took me to the top of the Easy Out run, which I had promised my wife I would check out for her. Easy Out is a green run, and it's definitely a nice easy one. It zig-zags back and forth across the mountain, alternately narrowing to a cat-track then widening out into a full run. It also has a lot of side hits so if you are riding with someone slower you can certainly keep busy. Things were pretty icy towards the bottom of the runs today, so caution required in the last 25% or so of the hill. If there's one realy downside to Easy Out, it's that all the cutting back and forth across the blue runs means you have to check and merge a lot.

I checked out the Big Easy Terrain Garden, which is a set of jumps, max about 10 ft kickers, but really kickey. Almost impossible to knuckle on those babies. It also has a couple of wide flat boxes and a rainbow box. The Nintendo terrain park, which is also accessible from the Solar Coaster, has larger features plus the street-style stuff most experienced park-rats love. Didn't go in there. I actually may not be able to. The map says you need a special pass to get into the Nintendo parks, which costs a "nominal" fee. Hm. Nominal for Whistler is a down payment on a house anywhere else

I wanted to check out the Whistler gondola, and the stuff at the top, so I had to figure out how to get over to the Whistler village without having to hoof it. Turns out there's a hard left off of Big Easy near the bottom that takes you to the village. It's easy to miss though -- there's a sign, but it's not distinctive in any way; so if you blink, you're back at the Wizard Express

The first time I got to the Whistler village, I climbed onto the Blackcomb Excalibur Gondola by mistake, and ended up back at the top of Easy Out. Derp. OK, try again... Next time I managed to climb onto the correct contrivance, and ended up at the top of the Whistler Village Gondola. That's where one end of the Peak2Peak is anchored. That's where the good snow is. And that's where everyone else in Whistler is. Argh! This is why the rest of the mountain isn't crowded! The Emerald Express is probably the only lift on Whistler that actually has a significant wait time.

Anyway, I checked out the Habitat Terrain Park. They have 3 lines: S, M, and L/XL. I stuck to the S line, as befits my advanced years and declining health. Plus the fact that I still suck at park . The jumps are a bit bigger, 10-15 ft, which means I knuckled a bunch of them of course. They aren't as kickey though, so a better experience overall. This park has essentially the same boxes and stuff though, so no help there. I think I might have seen a low rail at one point. Will check it out tomorrow.

What was great about the bottom end of the Habitat Terrain park though was the tree riding. The trees in that area are more or less at the same level as the run, and are well spaced. As a result, there are a lot of runs through the trees. You won't get any fresh tracks there, but you'll get your fill of dodging trees!

I took the Olympic run down from there to the bottom. The Olympic is possibly even easier than Easy Out; however it doesn't have nearly as much in the way of side hits, so I found it kind of boring. I wouldn't recommend this one to take your significant other on, not more than once anyway.

Reports by others notwithstanding (and apologies to you guys), I found my first day at Whistler to be a lot of fun. The staff were friendly, it wasn't anything like busy, the snow was good, there was interesting stuff to hit. They have their share of bozos, but what mountain doesn't?

One little side note. Someone was having a wedding at the Roundhouse Lodge at the top of the Whistler Gondola. Bride and Groom got on the gondola ahead of me and were getting pix taken a the top when I got off. Now THAT'S a wedding location!

More to come tomorrow, assuming I can even move enough to get out of bed tomorrow morning. One thing for sure about Whistler -- with the long runs, you get a workout!
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Old 03-19-2012, 07:46 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Stoked you are getting to hit it! Apologies for the slightly negatory comments about Whis of late. Had a couple days of 'trials' up there which turned me off it a bit. Living this close though, you gotta check it out and sweet you get to spend some days, (weekdays no less!) at the best time of year possible. Sure you'll get some deep stuff with being able to hit them gondies early Actually, consider 1st tracks breakfast man. I've been wanting to hit that for a bit and haven't been able to...

Side note: look up how to get over to Harmony chair and see if you can hit the horseshoe bowls. Made my day the other weekend getting to drop in over there to fresh pow. They're nicely filled in and not too many rocks

Have a BLAST!
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Old 03-20-2012, 07:30 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Day 2

Whistler got a bunch of new snow overnight -- about 8" at the top of Whistler Gondola. They also got a lot of wind, so the glacier area was closed pretty much all day. This of course forced the glacier crowds down into the regular runs with the rest of us, so it was a fairly crowded day. "Crowded" is relative of course. I still didn't have to wait more than 10 minutes for any lift.

I started the day off by almost scaring myself to death. I went the wrong way when I got off the Solar Coaster and found myself going down Jersey Cream Bowl, which is a friggin' double black. I estimate the pitch of the run at about 89 degrees, give or take. OK, realistically it was probably only 80. But I was able to run my hand along the snow in front of me as I was toe-side traversing. Always a bad sign. I didn't go back.

I hit all the small jumps on both parks again. I'm definitely getting desensitized, and not knuckling (much) any more. I also hit a rainbow box today for the first time. Woohoo!

And the best fun of the day, was doing tree runs near the bottom of Jersey Cream Express. I had to wait until there were other people going in -- I don't think it's a good idea to go in on my own -- but I did great, other than almost running a couple of them over. Oops, hehe.

Some misc notes:

The Whistler Gondola takes about 25 minutes (some guy timed it on one ride) which is about the same as the wait for the Mystery chair on a weekend. Of course this is midweek. The ride down can take 15 minutes to almost 40 minutes depending on what you do and where you go.

For anyone who is bringing beginners along, please note that there is a special pass for the Magic Chair only that is only $25 a day. And someone told me that they never check passes. So wife and daughter went on that run all afternoon and didn't use up one of the days on their Edge cards. Woot!

One thing that I am very impressed by with Whistler is how consistent their run ratings are. I haven't yet found a green/blue/double-black () rating that I disagreed with.

I've been a little concerned that I might be too stiff to ride effectively today, so my wife made me drink something called "Vega Sport Recovery Accelerator" which was recommended to her by a friend who does marathons. I tend to be a little skeptical of "health food" stuff, but I have to admit I was in better shape today than expected. Hmmmmmm.... Anyone else tried this stuff?
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Old 03-22-2012, 09:16 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Day 3

No new snow this time around, and one thing about Whistler you can depend on is a LOT of people tearing up the runs. They groom the more accessible parts of the green runs, so there's always a smooth path for someone who doesn't like bumps and moguls. But the rest of the mountain is kind of teeth-rattling.

I spent some time in the Terrain Garden (which never seems to be busy) and less time in the Habitat park (which always seems to be busy) then picked up the family for some together time. If you've got family that's just above beginner level, the Family Zone at the top of Whistler Gondola is definitely the place to be. The Emerald Express is always busy, but the line-up moves fast. There are a number of choices for runs, lots of tree runs, and the Habitat park for park rats.

It's become very obvious to me that when temps are cycling around freezing level at the Village, you have to go partway up the mountain and stay there. The freeze/thaw cycle makes the lower runs just vicious.

I didn't do anything too daring today. Took it easy mostly, because all the riding is catching up with me. My last run of the day I tried the jump line on Habitat, my legs just went out from under me on the lip, and I biffed. Appreciating the new spine protector right about there, but I decided I'd had enough.
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Old 03-22-2012, 09:24 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Sounds like a great time. Have fun!
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Old 03-22-2012, 11:53 AM   #6 (permalink)
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The Nintendo park is free. However for the XL park a helmet is mandatory.
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Old 03-22-2012, 12:19 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skip11 View Post
The Nintendo park is free. However for the XL park a helmet is mandatory.
Thanks for the info on the park.

Have helmet. Lose brain, bad.

(Actually I just bought a new one while here because my old one was starting to fit badly)
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Old 03-22-2012, 12:36 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Day 4, morning report

No snow in a couple of days, and the grooming cats have turned everything into corduroy. Turns out I had never experienced REAL corduroy. The stuff we get on Seymour is barely cold so you can mush it fairly easily. But the stuff here has the consistency of a corrugated pipe. And actually makes the same sound when you ride across the grain!

I went up 7th Heaven this morning. The view from there is absolutely stupendous, and if there was new snow the name would be completely appropriate. But when everything's been groomed, not so much. I took Sunset Boulevard to get back to the mountain. That was pretty freaky, as 1) it's a fairly narrow cat track, 2) it runs along a sheer drop-off on the left for a pretty good distance, and 3) it slopes slightly down towards the drop-off. Eek. Next time I'm going to come off 7th heaven via the Green Line.

Anyway, I've stopped for lunch and to collect the family. Hopefully this afternoon things will soften up a little.
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Old 03-22-2012, 02:50 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I highly recommend the chili cheese fries in any of the big lodges on the mountain for lunch. Soooo gooood.

I also highly recommend a Zoggs Dog (with tons of onions of course) any time of the day, several times a day (middle of the square just down from the gondolas). They also sell poutine which Canadian folk like you seem to enjoy.
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Old 03-22-2012, 05:40 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schmitty34 View Post
I highly recommend the chili cheese fries in any of the big lodges on the mountain for lunch. Soooo gooood.

I also highly recommend a Zoggs Dog (with tons of onions of course) any time of the day, several times a day (middle of the square just down from the gondolas). They also sell poutine which Canadian folk like you seem to enjoy.
dammit schmitty, now I'm all hungry again!

Tried a Beaver Tail? I hadn't realized they were everywhere here!
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