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?
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Whistler/Blackcomb, B.C.
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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

Related

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.

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.

Hit hard with a strong Pacific front, Revelstoke Mountain Resort has been hammered with nearly 15 inches of snow in the past 48 hours. Recent southerly winds have left North Bowl and Greely Bowl feeling like they have even more fresh powder than that.

Inside Line: Revelstoke, BC

Following Revelstoke’s grand opening last winter, first-time visitors identified a series of problems that the resort’s developers had failed to anticipate when they created a ski destination integrating 500,000 acres of cat- and heli-skiing with North America’s longest lift-served vertical. Among the quibbles: (1) The runs are “too long.” (2) There’s “too much powder.” (3) The absence of lift lines “prevents skiers from resting between runs.” This may sound like a joke, but these are actual complaints logged by management—and they underscore the stunning enormity of Revelstoke’s terrain. Our advice: If you aren’t prepared to go huge, don’t go at all.

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Inside Line: Red Mountain, BC

In 1897, a Norwegian miner named Olaus Jeldness invited his friends to the top of British Columbia’s Red Mountain for a “tea party.” He got everybody plowed, slapped planks to their feet, and started ski culture in Canada. Since then Red hasn’t changed much except that condos are popping up and locals are beginning to grumble. But the terrain is the same as it’s always been: steep, consistent subalpine trees and cliff bands that radiate off two peaks covered with 300 inches of crowd-free blower. Just as Jeldness would want it.

Wyoming's Grand Targhee has received 10 inches in the past 24 hours, and 27 inches in the past week. And, thanks to the recent big snows, they re-opened the Blackfoot lift on Wednesday and will run it straight through Easter Sunday 4/4 before closing down for the season.

Inside Line: Grand Targhee, WY

Located on the western side of the Tetons, Grand Targhee seems sleepy compared with Jackson Hole, its over-the-mountains neighbor. But Targhee’s rowdy terrain has been made famous by Teton Gravity Research’s 1996 film, Continuum, Jamie Pierre’s death-defying 255-foot cliff jump, and the resort’s own prodigal son, Sage Cattabriga-Alosa. During the next few years it will expand, adding a new lift and 600 more acres of inbounds terrain.

The Subaru North American Freeskiing Championships were held at Kirkwood, California on Sunday, Feb 27th and Monday, Feb 28th—two beautiful bluebird days after a storm

Inside Line: Kirkwood, CA

Kirkwood is off the grid in more ways than one. The whole place runs on generators. Lift lines are six people deep on a powder day. Sierra storms fill the ski-porn-worthy terrain, closing roads and shutting down lifts for days. But with inbounds runs slanted up to 42 degrees, the most reliable snow in the area, and chutes that make big-mountain skiers queasy, it’s hard to believe the resort stays so low-key. Thank the hourlong drive from South Lake Tahoe’s packed casinos and resorts, which ensures Kirkwood remains unsullied by the masses. Just the way skiers there like it.