Whistler – Skiing in Spring (& tasty dinner!)

Whistler – Skiing in Spring (& tasty dinner!)

Skiing in spring - Whistler BlackcombSkiing in Spring in Whistler can be brilliant! There are faaaar fewer people, and as Whistler is so much higher than Vancouver, there is still a chance of really good powder.

Marc and I had one day left on our edge cards for Whistler Blackcomb. We had been saving it for when our friends Steve and Amy were in Vancouver, but the weekend we had planned to ski with them sounded soooo bad (terrible visibility and super high winds) that we put it off again. So, by the time we went back to Whistler Blackcomb, it was the middle of April and blossoms had already appeared in Vancouver. So, I figured I should share what it was like to try skiing late in the season when most of our friends had stopped.

Is it cold enough to ski in April?

We took a Monday off work and rode the (ridiculously early) bus to Whistler. We left Vancouver in the rain, and didn’t see any of the prettiness on the Sea to Sky highway as it was so wet and dreary the whole way. Once we arrived in Whistler village, the bottom of the mountain was rainy and there was no ice or snow in the streets. My first thought was that all this slush would be terrible for skiing. However, as soon as we got above the clouds, the rain turned to snow and the ski slopes were amaaaaazing with really fun, slide-y snow.

The visibility was pretty rubbish, so I stopped taking photos (for once) and we just practiced our parallel skiing techniques.

On our previous trip to Whistler, I graduated onto a few of the blue runs. This time, we were more adventurous and tried out so many more blue runs. The new snow was so soft that I was less scared of falling over, so I finally managed to speed up a little and actually enjoy the blue runs. YES!!

Great things about Whistler in the spring:

As soon as the local Mountains close in Vancouver, it seems local people get ready for spring and forget about the slopes. Whistler was sooo much quieter than every other time we’ve been! We didn’t have to wait for the lifts at all, so we had even more time skiing.

The snow was just the same as the cold days when we visited previously. In fact, in many ways it was even better, as we kept skiing through mini snowstorms.

You know how when you go walking, there are wilderness rules and town rules. In the wilderness you say hello to everyone that you pass, and you chat to other walkers. However in towns or cities, most people avoid your eyes, and everyone would think you’re mad if you said hello to everyone you pass on the street! Well, as there were fewer people, everyone seemed to be friendlier. Whistler seemed to revert to wilderness rules. We had some nice conversations on the lifts and all the staff seemed chattier and relaxed when we stopped for snacks or lunch.

The Downsids of Skiing in Spring

– There were fewer buses (less people need them I guess)
– The snow is quite slushy and strange near the base of the mountain. We just stayed near the top!
– The lifts close quite early with no more people on them!
– If you wait until May, Whistler lifts will close, so you can only ski on Blackcomb.

Peak to Peak to Blackcomb

After a quick lunch break, the clouds lifted a little and Whistler was getting a little more busy. We decided to take the peak to peak gondola over to Blackcomb to see the slopes on that side of the mountain. We had the whole massive gondola carriage to ourselves! It was kind of cool that you can see exactly the direction of the wind. Each tree on the slopes has a white side (facing the snow) and a dark side that had faced away from the wind!

The most powdery of powder!

Once we made it to the top of Blackcomb, we seemed to have skied into a different world! There was soooo much snow! Everything was so white that it was quite difficult to see the bumps in the snow. I got a bit better at bending my knees and allowing my legs to absorb the impact of the bumps. We tried some blue runs (yay us!) But the snow was sooo deep and powdery that it felt completely different and was quite hard to turn. We both had great fun, but it was really hard work, especially as we’d never been on any of these runs before and the visibility was so bad that we couldn’t always see the sign posts!

Spot the difference

I took a couple of photos from the same positions as our last explore of Blackcomb. You can see that skiing in spring does not guarantee that you will be skiing with better weather!!

The photo on the left here is slightly further down the path than the photo on the right. As you can see, we totally lost all the views over to Whistler!

Be safe!

We had been having so much fun, that we hadn’t noticed the time. It turned out that we were the very last people on the lift back up to the top of Blackcomb at 3pm! We decided that as the visibility was so bad it would be safer for us to stick to the green runs on our way down. We’d done this run before so we knew the way(ish). And we expected to see a few other people on them.

In the end, we didn’t see any other skiers until we were halfway down the mountain! Can you even imagine that at Christmas time? Skiing in the spring is fantastic if you like to experience real silence, apart from the swish of skis zooming through the snow.

My first ski-related Jelly legs

I guess I must have been doing something wrong on my other skiing attempts, but on this final day of our ski season, my legs really started to feel tired! I am slowly improving my posture and bending my legs properly, but this used some new muscles. On my final run, my legs were so, so knackered! As we got closer to the village the visibility improved but the snow was more slushy. It can feel quite nice to ski through slushy snow, but my legs were so tired that I was finding it hard to turn. Near the end I gave up and zoomed as straight as I could to get down the mountain. I’ve mentioned jelly-legs at the end of epic day hikes, but this was the first time I had ever had ski-induced jelly legs!

Seriously tasty food at Basalt Wine & Salumeria

Now we’d made it down the mountain safely, we had a few hours to kill. There are fewer buses in the springtime, so we had to wait until 7:00pm, rather than 5:30pm. This worked out well for us. We decided the best possible use of our time would be to taste some local BC wines and eat some delicious food.

We went to Basalt Wine and Salumeria and managed to grab a table without a reservation. They offer a three course meal for $25, and it was so, soooo good! I loved it so much that I even left a 5 star review on yelp. Everything we tried was good, but the mushroom ravioli, the snapper and the cheeses were the highlights for me.

Want to give this a go!?

The Whistler slopes are still open until near the end of April, and Blackcomb stays open even in May, so there are plenty of chances to try skiing in spring. I hope we can do even more next year as it was amazing to ski on such quiet slopes!

Other posts about learning to ski:

2017-2018 has been my first ever ski season, so I started from scratch. Just in case you’d like to see what it’s like to learn to ski as an adult novice with balance issues, here are a few other posts you might like:

27 thoughts on “Whistler – Skiing in Spring (& tasty dinner!)

    1. Thank you so much! I didn’t actually take many this time as the world was soooo white. But Whistler is stunning when the clouds lift!

  1. This sounds like my type of ski trip! I’m not huge on really busy places. Maybe that’s why I love cross-country skiing on backwoods trails. πŸ™‚ Anyway, your ski trip sounds just perfect. I think I need to vacation near Whistler in the spring so I can observer the cherry blossoms and ski the empty mountains all in the same trip – sounds dreamy.

    Beautiful post, Josy! I WILL be exploring Canada one of these days. πŸ™‚

    1. I think you’d love it…but then, to be fair you’d like almost any trip as you have such a positive outlook on the world.

    1. Thanks Ruth!
      The only reason I agreed to even attempt skiing was the promise of pretty scenery! It has been a nice surprise to find that skiing is fun too!

  2. Blue runs, way to go Josy!!!!! πŸ˜€ My dad and my brother always try to go to Banff for the May long weekend, and go to the slush cup at Sunshine haha. Spring skiing is a different experience but I do love the lack of people around! (And you can blame stuff on melting snow πŸ˜‚)

    1. Like “Oh I could get around that corner without hitting a tree!? That’s the fault of the snow.” πŸ˜‰

      The snow didn’t feel too different at the top, but the slushy snow lower down did feel pretty strange. My legs were so tired that I can blame everything on legs rather than snow!!

  3. Being up in the mountains is my favourite part about skiing. I love the view. Plus, I love the rewarding feeling of getting back inside enjoying food and maybe a hot chocolate.
    I love your article. Especially the photos. πŸ˜‰ Thank you for keeping the winter wonderland alive, while we are dancing in the sun in Germany.
    I really like your imagery of the jelly legs. I am already looking forward to your next articles. πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment Worldpal! Now I’ve tried skiing, I would LOVE to try skiing in your part of the world too. πŸ™‚

      Yay that the sun is out for you guys in Germany! It is gorgeous today here too. A perfect mayday!

  4. Confession: I have never tried skiing! If I ever do though, Whistler would be the place to try it I’m sure! Good tips for when I get round to it though – cheers! πŸ™‚

    1. You can do it Aimee!! But Whistler is quite pricey. If you come near Vancouver, you can practice on the local Mountains next to the city first…then once you’ve got the hang of it you can try skiing in Whistler!

      I was a total beginner this winter, but I am reeeeally glad we had lessons before we got to Whistler (we were a bit too poor to have lessons in Whistler itself!)

    1. Oooh you lucky thing! I really want to go back and try some of the summer hikes in the area. Did you try mountain biking, or just explore the village? πŸ˜€

  5. I’ve never been skiing before, but I bet it’s great to find a place where you can do your thing without having to deal with lots of other skiiers! I can’t believe there was still that much snow in April!!

    1. Yeah, it’s been quite a snowy year out there! You can even still see plenty of snow on the Northshore mountains here in Vancouver!!

      Normally Whistler is super busy! I’d never seen it this quiet!

  6. What an amazing description of skiing! I always wondered what it would be like but the demands (cold, and er… physical co-ordination at speed) have deterred me so far. Although if I were to actually try this someday, I’d rather do it without crowds – don’t like throngs of people…

    The details are really good for someone with no experience like me – I wouldn’t have thought that you would simply absorb bumps in the snow as you go along!

    1. This was the first time I allowed my legs to absorb the bumps! There were clouds, so it was hard to see the contours in the snow, so I sort of had to learn to do it properly. Up until now I’d just ski around the uneven places!

      If you’re interested in learning, I have a post about our very first lesson. I wish I could have read something like that before we started, as a complete newbie, I had no idea what to expect! https://www.awalkandalark.com/mount-seymour-ski-lessons/

      I HATE being cold and have terrible coordination, but I was surprised to find that I love skiing!

    1. Oooh you were really lucky!! I only saw the view on my third visit to Whistler!! We did have some gorgeous days as well, but I don’t think that is the norm!!

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