Guide to Blackcomb

With the 2010 Winter Olympics around the corner, all eyes are on Whistler Blackcomb. The masses will descend on Whistler Mountain, where the official events will take place. Which means Blackcomb will be the place to ski.
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You'll be hard pressed to find "Climax" on the official Whistler Blackcomb trail map. Sources from the resort haven't heard of it, and think that it might be a local's nickname for the Sylvan chute. Either way, it is being kept under wraps for a reason: it's scary.  The red-headed step-child of the Chainsaw ridge just below Blackcomb peak, Climax is the most difficult run at the expansive resort. The chute drops for an initial 300 feet at 50 degrees then gets to a 45 degree angle for a short few turns before bottoming out into the bowl.   Rumored to have been named from several "themes" in the 1985 porn, "The Wizard of Aahh's" (precursor to Greg Stump's "Blizzard of Aahhh's") many of Blackcomb's steeper runs have dirty names. Perhaps this chute is the ultimate conquest.

You'll be hard pressed to find "Climax" on the official Whistler Blackcomb trail map. Sources from the resort haven't heard of it, and think that it might be a local's nickname for the Sylvan chute. Either way, it is being kept under wraps for a reason: it's scary. The red-headed step-child of the Chainsaw ridge just below Blackcomb peak, Climax is the most difficult run at the expansive resort. The chute drops for an initial 300 feet at 50 degrees then gets to a 45 degree angle for a short few turns before bottoming out into the bowl. Rumored to have been named from several "themes" in the 1985 porn, "The Wizard of Aahh's" (precursor to Greg Stump's "Blizzard of Aahhh's") many of Blackcomb's steeper runs have dirty names. Perhaps this chute is the ultimate conquest.

Locals know that Blackcomb outperforms its better-known neighbor when it comes to off-piste terrain and jibbing. Plus, Blackcomb’s lift lines are shorter, its park and pipe bigger, and its backcountry steeper. And with the new Peak-to-Peak gondola—a record-setting 2.73-mile-long feat of engineering—now connecting the two mountains, you can easily zip over to the big W. But with Blackcomb’s terrain, why bother?

Quick Tip: To avoid the morning jam where the Excalibur gondola spills onto the Excelerator chair, take the Wizard quad and Solar Coaster Express—it’s colder, but way faster.

Start Here: While waiting for patrol to open the high alpine, lap steep lines on Jersey Cream Bowl below the Jersey Cream Express. From the bottom of the bowl, cut right and nab the lower section of The Bite, a 500-vertical-foot shot.

Must Hit: Ride the Horstman T-bar, and then skate to the top of Couloir Extreme, Blackcomb’s 42-degree test piece. If it’s already bumped out, stay high and drop in skier’s left of the main gulch to the less visited False Face.

The Stash: Off Seventh Heaven chair, join the pilgrimage of intermediates poling on the cat track. But instead of dropping into the standard runs, stay high at the first switchback and head straight for a gap in the fence that leads to Lakeside Bowl, a rocky, open powder shot followed by tight trees.

Powder Day: Take the Glacier Express and get in line to climb Spanky’s Ladder, the only point of access to Blackcomb’s epic back bowls. Start with the ridgeline traverse to Ruby Bowl, a high-speed leg burner. Then hit one of the main lines down Diamond Bowl for more of the same.

Three Days Later: Head to Sapphire Chutes, which are shaded from the sun and guarded behind an intimidating entrance. To get there, climb Spanky’s and take the high right traverse across Garnet Bowl. Straightline the entrance to reach the chutes. Then the farther right you go, the steeper the lines.

Park and Pipe: Blackcomb is littered with jumps. Take the Catskinner chair to access the Nintendo Terrain Park—home to over 70 rails—and Highest Level Terrain Park, which requires a special waiver and a helmet to ride.

Backcountry Access: The safest exit into the backcountry is on the far side of Blackcomb Glacier, where you’ll pass through a transceiver check gate and then skin into the Spearhead range. Check Whistler Blackcomb’s website to hire a guide and to see the latest avalanche report.

Weather: Last season Blackcomb notched over 33 feet of snow. The place doesn’t lack for powder days, especially in January and February. What it does lack is bluebird—gray skies are the norm.

Après: There are plenty of après spots in the village, but none quite like the Garibaldi Lift Company, located above the Whistler gondola. Share a plate of nachos or the infamous sex-cheese tapa and a pitcher of Alexander Keith’s India Pale Ale.

Fuel: For cheap eats, grab a burger and fries smothered in cheese and gravy at Splitz Grill. For a spendier meal, shell out for the crusted ahi tuna and warm goat-cheese salad at Trattoria di Umberto.

Up All Night: Start your night with the locals at the Cinnamon Bear in the Hilton Hotel. Then take it to Garfinkel’s, which gets the top DJs and bands that come through town.

Digs: Thanks to the slipping Canadian dollar and a weak economy, the Nita Lake Lodge—Whistler’s newest hotel—is offering sweet deals for its opening season. Rooms start at $207—not bad for a town where you’re usually lucky to get a closet for that price (nitalakelodge.com).

Elevation: 7,494 feet Vertical Drop: 5,280 feet Snowfall: 400 inches Acres: 3,414 Info: whistlerblackcomb.com

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Whistler/Blackcomb, B.C.

Inside Line: Blackcomb, BC

With the 2010 Winter Olympics around the corner, all eyes are on Whistler Blackcomb. The masses will descend on Whistler Mountain, where the official events will take place. Which means Blackcomb will be the place to ski. Locals know that Blackcomb outperforms its better-known neighbor when it comes to off-piste terrain and jibbing. Plus, Blackcomb’s lift lines are shorter, its park and pipe bigger, and its backcountry steeper. And with the new Peak-to-Peak gondola—a record-setting 2.73-mile-long feat of engineering—now connecting the two mountains, you can easily zip over to the big W. But with Blackcomb’s terrain, why bother?

A few stats on the Peak to Peak Gondola.It will be four and a half times higher than the Statue of LibertyIt will be three times longer than the Golden Gate BridgeIt will span a length of 2.7 miles in 11 minutesIt will carry 28 people per cabin, moving 2050 people per hour each way.The highest point off the ground it will be is 1,427 feet over Fitzsimmons Creek.The longest length of unsupported track is 1.88 miles.

A Look at Whistler's Peak to Peak Gondola

Whislter's Peak to Peak Gondola opened in December 2008. The largest construction project of its kind in North America, the gondola connects Whistler to Blackcomb so that if you want to take turns in Symphony Bowl and Seventh Heaven in the same hour, you can. The gondola spans 2.7 miles in 11 minutes—three times longer than the Golden Gate Bridge. With the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler just around the corner, here are some shots of the gondola being constructed.

Nothing to see here but free concerts, free outdoor theater, and huge screens broadcasting all 17 days of Olympic events. The official parties last until 11:30, culminating in a nightly “fire and ice” show, but count on late nights, especially given that some restaurants are expected to be open around the clock. Whistler’s official Olympic website, whistlerblackcomb.com/olympics, has all the info you’ll need.The mountains may be empty but when you ski back to the village, expect the same kind of pulse you associate with a vibrant city. Other than the media and medal-presentation areas, the village is free of security barricades. You can walk, mingle, and party with the world. There's a reason Whistler was voted Best Nightlife in our 2010 Resort Awards.

An Olympic Guide: The Best Après Spots in Whistler

So you’re heading to the Olympics in Whistler. Be prepared for deep snow (they’re already reporting one of the best seasons on record), world-class terrain, sporting, and revelry. Whether you’re celebrating an American victory or kicking up your boots after a day on the hill, Whistler’s watering holes elevate après to an Olympic level. Here’s a guide to the best après spots in Whistler.

"We're number 1! We're number 1!" Cheerleader Dave Barry sis-boom-bahs over Blackcomb.

Olympic Countdown: Local Whistler Athletes to Watch

Only 28 days let until the 2010 Winter Olympics head to Whistler and Vancouver. This video podcast from Whistler Blackcomb looks at some local Whistler-area athletes, including ski cross athlete Julia Murray, daughter of famous Canadian downhill skier Dave Murray, Maelle Ricker, a snowboard cross athlete, and halfpipe snowboarder Justin Lamoureux, who reflects on his experiences at the last Winter Olympic Games in Torino and what it means for him to compete on home soil.

No, that’s not a typo. The Games are notoriously poorly attended. For 2010’s events, just 12 of Whistler and Blackcomb’s 200-plus runs are closed. Better still, Whistler insiders told Skiing that January bookings are lagging, meaning for several weeks leading up to the Games you won’t be fighting for first tracks. Lucky you. Plus, Whistler won our Best Overall Resort in our 2010 Resort Awards.

7 Reasons to Ski Whistler During the Olympics

Unless you live in Whistler, you wouldn’t know that a certain segment of the community is opposed to hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics. Some locals have decided to leave town for two weeks, rent their houses to “some rich Americans,” and go surfing in Mexico. Let them. Here are seven reasons why the 2010 Winter Olympics are the perfect time to hit Whistler.

Peak to Peak

Whistler's Peak to Peak Gondola

Whislter's Peak to Peak Gondola opened in December 2008. The largest construction project of its kind in North America, the gondola connects Whistler to Blackcomb so that if you want to take turns in Symphony Bowl and Seventh Heaven in the same hour, you can. The gondola spans 2.7 miles in 11 minutes—three times longer than the Golden Gate Bridge.

“As always, the Deep Winter Photo Challenge proved to be a tiring, but fun four days,” says Manley. “We worked hard and tried to be as creative as possible. This year differed in that the sun came out, and we ended up venturing out of the forest and into the alpine, which was weird, but great.”

Jordan Manley Wins Whistler Photo Contest—Again

For the third year in a row, photographer Jordan Manley has won Whistler's Deep Winter Photo Challenge, which ran through January 10. Paul Morrison earned second place and best-in-show photo, and Nicolas Teichrob, in his debut at the contest, placed third. Here are a few shots from Manley.