Looking back at all of my previous trips to Whistler, of which there must be close to ten, I now realize I’ve been missing the point.
I have had the opportunity to really challenge myself as a snowboarder – to get better and try different things – and instead I have consistently settled for days upon days of throwing myself down groomed runs, happy that they were slightly more challenging and much much longer than Ontario.
It took 150 centimetres over the past week – yes, that’s how much it snowed while I was in Whistler – to show me that Whistler is an incredibly gigantic mountain area with so much terrain that you never have to do the same run twice. It also showed me how much more I needed to learn to become even remotely good at riding (by anything but Ontario standards).
As I mentioned in a previous post, we started the week with an epic dump that would set the tone for the entire trip. It literally snowed a minimum of 10-15 centimetres every day. This meant there was plenty of terrain to explore virtually risk-free; I mean, if you flub a drop or a steep run all you’re going to basically do is land in powder anyway. We used the first day to explore areas we were already relatively familiar with, but that were now covered in powder.
But it was a mini-tour by a cousin of mine who lives in the area who really opened our eyes. On our second day, he took us straight over to the Whistler Bowl area, a collection of bowls and chutes that were simply packed with powder. And although they were all inbounds, a fair bit of it was difficult to access if you didn’t know where you were going (Doom & Gloom, Christmas Tress, Frog Hollow). Which meant the powder stayed in there all week.
After a couple of days learning how to deal with knee-deep powder all the time, Steve and I gained a level of confidence in our riding I don’t think we had before. And from that point, we made it our purpose to only ride areas packed with pow, which meant avoiding groomed runs at all costs and instead exploring all areas of both mountains (and putting ourselves in a few precarious situations as well).
A week later, I’m now back at home. I am sore as hell from digging my ass out of powder, hitting trees head-first (lesson: always wear a helmet), hiking, hitting unexpected drops, pulling myself back from the edges of cliffs, and spending so much time leaning on by back foot while I pointed my board through mountains of snow that I can hardly move it. As one guy I ran into on Blackcomb Mountain said, the place was a “powder barn” all week. And I fear I’ll never see conditions like that again.
Some other highlights of our trip:
I have so many updates to the Whistler Guide at this point that it’s not even funny. I will try to get on that as soon as I can.