Our family has just spent 8 days together in Whistler -British Columbia, Canada.
A trip for 18 people from 4 different families, requires a plan to plan and of course I love a good planning project!
Christmas 2018, we shared with our kids that we were planning a trip to Canada for Christmas 2019 and would they like to join us….. most were interested straight away, and as we kept talking about some of things we may do, we had the whole McBrady bunch locked and loaded including a few partners. Ca-ching $$$$
Steve and I had previously been to Whistler with my kids and some of my family 3 years ago, so we were old pros on what we wanted to do or not do, and lucky for us we were able to do a home and away house deal with the same lady that we did last time! Whistler Cay Heights here we come.
We all met in Vancouver at a hotel where I had been staying with Jess Lana, and Jared after arriving from New York. Some of us have been in Vancouver, and Seattle, the rest fly in on the day we head to the mountains!
Slowly those that were already here added bags to the lobby until finally we were 12 cases, (well 13 if you include the fact that I had also now filled a bag with treasures from New York )!
Steve and I put all the kids on a private shuttle bus for the hour and half trip up to the mountains, whilst the 2 of us enjoyed some peace and quiet for the last time for the next 8 days…. Well actually- I enjoyed the peace and quiet as Steve had just arrived from Sydney, and thought he would drive to Whistler, only he was a little tired so I made him pullover and I drove the big “Yank tank” on the wrong side of the road along the Sea to Sky Highway, which is a really pretty drive and considering last time we came here it was snowing and foggy and I didn’t see a lot of it, it was lovely to see the water as I drove along.
The house we are in is not available until 4:00pm, so we drop our bags at the garage of the house and it’s off to the pub for lunch and an afternoon of collecting ski lift passes, ski rental hire and a big shop at the local fresh market to cover off what 12 people eat for breakfast thank goodness for the large car!
Lunch will be on the mountain or in the village and dinners have been planned for 4 meals out somewhere and 4 meals in with the help of Whistler cooks who deliver as we check in at 4.30pm.
The house is only a 10 minute walk into the village, however schlepping in to the lifts or gondolas with skis, boots & poles is not in my 10 favourite things to do!
Picture a snow covered gingerbread house- on a large scale and that’s what our accommodation is. Spa out the back to sooth weary skiers, store room and garage for drying skis boots, jackets etc.
5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms and although I said to Steve’s kids (who hadn’t been before), ‘ we are all bunking in’ …… there actually aren’t any “bunk beds” ! I dish out the rooms and share the love. Everyone is happy at our home away from home including Jared, who is actually using an over flow room down stairs that becomes the Troll room.
Steve the baggage boy and passport controller has now had snow field packer added to his job description and guess what ? The 7 of us skiing let him! No complaints from us.
Although its fair to say poor Steve had a few days of wrong skis, changing back rental poles that were Tim’s personal ones ( lucky they went to lost property), the wrong ski boots and the wrong skis at the top of the round house for Lizzy early one morning ! Ahhhh we have a few stories to tell, and really as we are all adults we should not have made Steve expand his job description, but every day he got up and de-iced the car, loaded it with ski gear, drove and parked it in a prime position….. job well done I say!
Most days we head off early to park the car in the closest car park, to the gondolas and for the bargain of CAD10, we leave the car there for the day and with wifi available from most bars/restaurants and a brief discussion with the gang, we can figure out who has control of the car key, for easy access to apre boots when you have had your quota of the snow!
Night one of 8 nights it is just the 12 of us, as Steve’s sister Sue and Husband Alex plus their tribe of 4 are arriving tomorrow.
Ski lifts and gondolas open at 8:30am and have last runs up at 3:00pm.
Our first day on the slopes was clear and cold perfect for refresher lessons for a few of us and beginner lessons for Steve’s kids for snow boarding. And as for those other snow boarders and skiers, they were up and gone before the sun, which actually isn’t that hard as the sun is up late at around 7.45am and sets early at around 4.30pm.
Lana, Jess, Steve and myself all meet our new best friend Dave, an old time skier who has been skiing in Whistler since 1967.
Dave makes us all show him what we got and immediately starts working on our old habits that creep in when you don’t ski on a regular basis….
Why are you lifting that back ski Lynda? You don’t need to, come on follow me and glide down the hill, which if course I do! Steve, stop rushing your turns, look at Lynda she is in control and looks great, you are rushing. Lets try that again….. yes that’s much better, look out at where you are going not at your skis, just like you do on the motorbike.
Come on Lana and Jess lets get you from Pizza skiing to soft parallel skiing by the end of our first day! Yippee, the mountain is ours to roam.
Now years ago, there were 2 ski resorts that originally started in what is now called Creekside, when the ski town grew, they couldn’t make it any larger, as there are 2 beautiful small lakes on either side, so London Mountain was developed, and later was renamed Whistler Mountain, after the the mammal called a Marmot. A chubby little critter that is almost like a meerkat, in that they watch out for danger and whistle to their families! Hence the name.
Blackcomb Mountain ( that the old timers call Rockcomb) was a computer generated creation and unlike Whistler, which was a more natural development. For a long time these were two separate resorts, that required a separate ticket per mountain. There was lots of competion, along the lines of, we have the highest lift, or we have then most runs etc, until Blackcomb bought out Whistler to become Whistler-Blackcomb, where by sharing the best of both the mountains is an Epic ride. It is all now owned by the Vail group, but that’s another story!
Both sides of the resort are now linked by the Peak to Peak Gondola, an 11 minute journey, that gives your screaming thigh muscles a rest before embarking on more incredible runs down the mountains.
Allegedly the snow this season is the worst for 50 years….. doesn’t bother us Aussies – it’s still the best snow and although no big fresh powder arrives until late in our trip, we still have a blast.
The black runs (not that we care) are not yet open, however the green and blue runs are and we have a ball. We mostly ski on Whistler side, as the Blackcomb Gondola is not behaving itself through this busy Christmas week, so the lines to go up the mountain if you aren’t up early are very busy.
There are ski runs with names like orange peel and banana peel, papoose to name a few that run down into creekside village, and go past this cute little cafe called Chic Pea, that serves the most amazing cinnamon scrolls, covered in icing and a little caramel sauce. They also have other food, but this is a favourite for most and sometimes you even have a wait time of 15 minutes for the next batch to be ready! The little whisky jack birds, who hang around here are so tame, they will sit on your hand and take food from you. They also swoop and steal food!
The first part of our week, we have had the most glorious weather, including a few bluebird sky days, that aren’t normally seen until March, and to ski on Christmas Day with clear blue skies is a pretty special thing to do.
Sometimes the clouds are above the village and you ski through them it really has to be seen to believe. It’s such a cool village and for those that don’t ski there is loads of things to do.
As most of our group all skied/snow boarded, our other planned activities, were done after the lifts close at 3:00pm.
Zip lining with head torches on across the Fitzsimmons River which actually splits the 2 ski resorts was incredible, flying through -5 degrees temperatures, with toe and and hand warmer satchels that keep you warm, was crazy. A great night was had by all with 4 ziplines, some tree hugging of trees with names like Doug and Smithy that have been around for 1000’s of years, that now support the treehouses we are climbing in and also the zip lines.
For safety we all get put into groups of 8 with 2 guides at either end of us and a 3rd guide that has already swung through the trees to “haul us” in if required at the other end.
Snowmobiling, was another big group activity and having done this once before I wanted it to be a little different, so I organised with the incredible people @canadianwilderness01 to do an evening tour, with a beginner group and intermediate group and the speed demon group! Yep I’m a speed demon! In actual fact it was one of those times that organically the adults ended up skiing with their own kids!
To say this was a highlight is an under statement. As we all got into the mountains terrain, we realised we were actually snowmobiling on Blackcomb mountain, and crystal creek, where we had actually been skiing just that day! So instead of skiing down the mountain, we were hooning up the cat tracks and into the bowl.
I had also asked if our 3 groups could meet up for a photo opportunity and how amazing was turning up at an igloo with a fire burning and seeing the lights of the mountains! Just incredible.
Tyler then took our group further up the mountain (after we showed him we could weight bare turn the machines and manage them) and although it was only circle work, my girls and I sat out and watch Marcus Jared and Al have the safety removed and power into 15 minutes of pure adrenaline!
Just the best activity for Christmas Eve and we are all excited to ski on Christmas Day!
Christmas Day is so much fun, the whole 18 of us have all phoned home the day before to wish our families in Australia a Merry Christmas and now here in whistler Canada its our turn!
The whole crew play bad Santa and have a massive feast of food for breakfast that Alex and Steve have cooked on the BBQ whilst a big shop at they local fresh foo9s markets has us eating waffles and eggs and fruit yoghurt, granola ahhhhhhh Merry Christmas family, now lets go skiing!
It’s a blue bird day and quite warm, we all have a blast before heading home to eat ready for our next feast a fabulous Buffet at the Westin Hotel restaurant Grill and Vine. There is so much food, and a wonderful way for us to enjoy Christmas and for Steve Sue Alex and I a nice change from putting on the Christmas buffet at home. We all love to entertain, and to have the opportunity to have someone feed us……. bliss.
The last 2 activities we do are a valley walk at night, which is called Valley Lumina. I absolutely love it but 3 kids and some of Steve’s would rather be at the pub! ah well you cant win them all, however I would highly recommend it.
A few of us also venture out on a morning tour with Ryan from Whistler valley tours and buoy was it 3 hours of magical stops! Frozen lakes, Rainbow Villages and just a great way to see this town that is 18 kilometres long with lots of beautiful little secret spots to see.
Writing this blog has taken me all week to finish as we have been soooo busy and I have loved every minute of it.
Here’s to a happy new year and some rain in Australia
Mrs W xx