25 Top Spots: #1 Whistler/Blackcomb, B.C.

Whistler Blackcomb

Overall Rank: #1
Snow: #5
Steeps: #2
Nightlife: #2

The powerhouse of Whistler Blackcomb completely dominates the competition-everywhere else is just fighting for second place. This mega-complex has the biggest vertical in North America, the largest skiable area, the best backcountry, and the most lifts and runs. Access to the endless glaciers and sky-scratching peaks beyond the boundary is wide open, thanks to Canada's enlightened attitude toward personal responsibility and freedom. And the village is the archetypal post-millennial snow center, with four-star digs, world-class grinds, urban-style clubs, and a thriving dirtbag underbelly.

Blackcomb's terrain, from couloir to glacier, has been heavily documented by the flocks of photographers and filmmakers who migrate here every year. Even first-timers will have a sense of déjà  vu. With more steep and gnarlies, Blackcomb tends to attract the better riders, but that's not to say Whistler is a milquetoast mountain by any stretch. Whistler is huge, even bigger than Blackcomb, with seven bowls, 3,657 acres, and more above-tree line terrain. Because Whistler is 14 years older than Blackcomb, its skiing reflects a bit more old school flavor than its neighbor's brisk, efficient, tourist-friendly vibe.

A lot of people love one, and don't like the other-but no matter what your inclination, Whistler Blackcomb will blow your mind. These mountains are huge and varied and, put simply, they rock.

The Vitals

Top Elevation: Blackcomb, 7,494 feet; Whistler, 7,160 feet
Vertical drop: Blackcomb, 5,280 feet; Whistler, 5,020 feet
Snowfall: Blackcomb, 349 inches (5,002'); Whistler, 404 inches (7,160')
Skiable acres: 7,071 combined
Bars: 25
Eateries: 86
Phone: 800-766-0449
web: whistler-blackcomb.com

Blackcomb's Garnet, Diamond, and Ruby bowls would be the centerpiece of most any resort, but here they're just one of many options among the vast, cliff-dotted, chute-streaked peaks. Hike the short booter up Spanky's Ladder, marvel at the view, then stay left. The farther you go, the bigger the vert. On Whistler, try the area called Doom and Gloom/VD chutes. These bowl-to-glade-to-thick-forest lines are on a northeast-facing ridge, so they pick up prevailing southwest weather and wind and seem to refresh with snow almost nightly. People have died in these places, so latch onto a local for the safe lines.

The joke goes that Whistler is a four-season resort-you get all four seasons in one day. A solid mile of vertical relief and proximity to the ocean mean a huge disparity in conditions. It can be raining at the base, dumping at mid-mountain, and sunny up top. Plan for everything except brutal cold.

Maxx Fish is the pick for a raucous mix of locals, out-of-towners, DJs, foam parties, and disco nights, all stirred with an audiological stick that ranges from hip-hop and house to thrash and reggae.

Local's Take
"Ski off the Peak Chair at Whistler. It's the highest lift and gets you to the steepest, craziest terrain. Drop into Whistler Bowl to the Shale slope...tons of rocks, great drops, powder stashes, and trees."