Whistler + Blackcomb Mountains

The final excursion of my time in Vancouver, unfortunately. Last Thursday I went on a day-trip to Whistler before the workshop I'm here for started. It was quite an early start, involving catching an 8am Greyhound bus (and yes, I managed to avoid any beheadings). First tip: when the website says you must turn up a minimum of 30 minutes before the scheduled departure, what they actually mean is: most people won't turn up until 5 minutes before, and the bus probably still won't be waiting. Anyway.

 So Whistler is the ultimate down-hill sports mountain; in winter it is covered with snow and snowboarders/skiers, and in summer -- as it is now* -- it is a mountain-biking haven. Unfortunately, this does mean that it's not the greatest spot for hiking, which is what we were there for: it's mostly alpine up the top, but the view is basically just of ski runs and chair lifts, until you get out the back.

 *For some definition of "summer": it was bitterly cold up the top, as you'll see in the photos.

 The itinerary started with a cable car up Whistler, then a bit of "scenic" hiking, then catching another cable car up to the peak. As you can see from the photos, visibility was fair restricted, and so was circulation (I was in shorts). This didn't appear to deter a bunch of bikers though. We then caught the "peak 2 peak express" from Whistler to the neighbouring Blackcomb mountain. This is a bit of an engineering marvel; it's the longest cable car of its kind in the world (I haven't looked up what "its kind" is exactly, but it may be something like all the "largest Buddha in the world" statues there are, because the categories are things like "wooden and seated"; "bronze seated in half-lotus", "seated and picking nose", etc. None the less, it was very long and the view was quite spectacular).

 Blackcomb itself was similar to Whistler in terms of the view afforded, but there was a reasonable alpine walk out the back which offered a decent panorama a short distance from the base. I think both spots would actually have some reasonable hiking options if you had the time and the visibility was up to it, but we had neither unfortunately. From there anyway we caught another cable car down, which finished on the other side of Whistler village where we started.

 Random occurrence: Whistler has a bit of a reputation for having a large Australian population, working the chair-lifts etc, and sure enough we did bump into a mutual colleague there (hi Elio!). Small world.

 That was essentially my last adventure before finishing up with work and coming home. I had an absolute blast and I'm going to miss you guys like hell, but I'll be back -- there's just too much stuff I never got to do or see for a start! What a great place.

Mark Hepburn 09 September 2009
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