Skiing 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!
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:
- Tips for the turkey sales – If you need to buy clothes or equipment, but don’t want to spend too much!
- Learning to Ski on Mount Seymour – This was our first ever lesson – a ski camp for adults
- My first try in Whistler – I actually lost a ski and didn’t manage to get very far!
- Evening classes on Cypress Mountain – This is where we improved and practiced every Monday night in the dark.
- My slightly more useful post about the basics of Skiing in Whistler Blackcomb – This is when we first saw the views and I started to get the hang on flying down mountains on planks!