Adara Insider: Whistler Blackcomb's Powder Playground
Posted: Tuesday, January 07, 2014
"There is nothing in the world like going out onto an untouched, open, virgin mountain slope drenched under a thick blanket of new powder snow. It gives a supreme feeling of freedom, mobility. A great sense of flying, moving anywhere in a great white paradise." - Hans Gmoser, September 1974
Whistler Blackcomb is home to 8,171 acres of skiable terrain, 200 marked runs, 16 alpine bowls, and 3 glaciers... any snow enthusiast's dream come true. The only thing that can make the mountain better is a fresh layer of powder in the morning. Luckily, 2014 is kicking off with a bang and the snow has finally decided to turn up - take a look!
Although there will be plenty of powder all over the mountain, some areas tend to get a bigger snow build-up than others, and those are the places you'll definitely want to ride. In this edition of the Adara Insider we're pointing you in the direction of the deepest pow stashes on Whistler and Blackcomb mountains.
For the ultimate powder-filled day, start with a Fresh Tracks Mountain Top Breakfast at 7:15 AM so you can get the first turns on untracked slopes before the gondolas are even open. (Help yourself to a 10% off coupon from the lobby.) The Emerald Express and Big Red Express will both be running by the time you're done eating so you'll have a variety of freshly powdered runs to choose from. If you've got the energy, it's also worth hiking up the cat-track at the top of Emerald chair to get first runs down Harmony. The new 6-pack chair won't be open during Fresh Tracks so you'll have to go back to the bottom of the Emerald Express afterwards.
As the rest of the mountain opens up, make your way to the Peak Express. The West Bowl keeps powder really well but as people start to track that out continue working your way skier's left to Bagel Bowl as you lap the Peak Chair. There's also a hidden gem below and skier's right of West Bowl called Christmas Trees, but there are dangerous cliffs there so be sure to ride that area with extreme caution.
The final powder heaven on Whistler is the Symphony area which offers three bowls and acres of gladed runs. Rhapsody Bowl is best for intermediate riders and will lead you straight into the Glissando Glades for some epic tree riding. After the bowl gets too busy, more experienced skiiers and snowboarders can continue hiking up skier's right past Rhapsody and ride the Flute Bowls. You can probably find fresh tracks all day long so it's worth taking a few rides up the Symphony Express chair before heading out.
If you don't wake up extra early for the Fresh Tracks breakfast you can still make it in time for when Blackcomb opens an hour later. The best places for powder on Blackcomb usually don't open right away so you'll have to lap the Jersey Cream Express and Solar Coaster Express for a few runs. Just keep your eye on the Lift Status so you can head straight to Glacier Express or the brand new Crystal Ridge Express when you see them go on standby.
If you are one of the first up the Glacier Express, you'll notice a stream of people hiking up the left hand side when you get off the chair, known as Spanky's Ladder. Ruby Bowl is the most open of the three bowls you can access from up there and has some fun but steep pitches and terrain. Diamond and Sapphire Bowls are a little more terrifying so if you're looking for an adrenaline rush be sure to try them out. For those not interested in hiking that much, take the Showcase T-Bar after getting off the Glacier Express. That will get you to the top of the Blackcomb Glacier where you'll have an open bowl of fresh powder, suitable for intermediate riders. Just a note for snowboarders... there's a pretty long cat track out from the Blackcomb Glacier and Bowls so keep your speed and make sure you let other people go first so they groom down the snow and make it easier for you.
Once down the cat, you'll end up at the new Crystal Ridge Express where a whole new world of powder will await you. Since the chair has moved from its old location, there's much easier access to great areas, especially in the trees. Powder stashes can be found in Rider's Revenge, In The Spirit, and Arthur's Choice. Also, make sure to visit the Crystal Hut at the top of the chair for belgian waffles or a gourmet lunch - the food is mouthwatering and the views are spectacular.
Finally, 7th Heaven offers some really great powder riding both in the Lakeside Bowl and Xhiggy's Meadow areas, as well as through the Everglades on the other side of the chair. You really can't go wrong on a powder day though, the entire mountain will be fantastic. The trick is just knowing where to go and getting there first... and now you can do exactly that.