Posted by: Pip Campbell
We are officially at the furthest away from winter we can possibly get but that doesn’t mean the chairlifts have stopped in Whistler. Hiking, biking, sightseeing and dining are just a few things you can do on Whistler and Blackcomb mountains in summer, all accessible by a quick chairlift or gondola ride from Whistler Village. To help get you inspired for new adventures, we thought we’d share some ideas for things to see and do in the alpine this season:
1. Ride the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola. It’s big, it’s red, it holds some serious records in the gondola world. A ride on the PEAK 2 PEAK is one of Whistler’s must-do experiences, opening up both Whistler and Blackcomb mountains for exploration in a single day. Be sure to leave plenty of time to sightsee and check out the viewing gallery in the terminal to learn more about the engineering behind the ride.
2. Walk between the snow walls. In early summer (May – June) you can walk to Whistler Peak between snow walls left over from the previous winter. Over 12 m (39 ft) of snow in winter 2015/16 means they’re impressive this year – but they won’t last…
3. Go Hiking. As the snow melts, the trail networks on Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains open (June – July onwards depending on snow conditions). Choose from short, medium or longer and more challenging hiking trails leading to hidden lakes, open meadows and phenomenal views like this one of Cheakamus Lake from the High Note Trail on Whistler Mountain.
4. Spot a Bear. The gondola and chairlifts give you an ideal vantage point for spotting wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled and you might just see one of Whistler’s resident black bears grazing on the ski runs or wandering through the forest. Make sure you brush up on your ‘bear etiquette’ before heading out on your alpine journey for your safety (and theirs), and if you want to learn more about these incredible animals take a Bear Viewing Tour with local bear experts.
5. Find Black Tusk. This hard-to-miss stratovolcano is located south of Whistler, best viewed from Whistler Peak.
6. See Whistler from above. There’s nothing quite like a bird’s eye view for appreciating how special this place is. See if you can spot your hotel, the Whistler Sliding Centre, the looong Sasquatch™ zipline and work out which of the five lakes is which.
7. Find an Inukshuk (Hint: There’s more than one up there). Even better, build your own.
8. Picnic. Make the most of the views and bring or buy a packed lunch for an outdoor meal. Make sure you pack out what you pack in, leaving just the views for the next person to enjoy.
9. See (or hear) a marmot. These stocky creatures can often be found sunning themselves on rocks, grazing in the meadows or running through boulder fields. Keep your ears tuned and you might hear one giving its signature piercing alarm call ‘Eeeeee!’.
10. Ride the Top of the World Trail. Not for the faint-hearted, this Insider-tested mountain bike trail is in the third and highest zone of the Whistler Bike Park, allowing riders to drop in from Whistler Peak at 2182 m (7160 feet) and link with other trails to the valley floor. It requires a bike and a different ticket to access the trail.
11. Eat ice cream. The dish of the summer! There are places to grab this sweet treat by the Roundhouse on Whistler, the Rendezvous on Blackcomb and on Whistler Peak. It definitely tastes better at altitude.
12. Climb the Via Ferrata. Take a guided tour and climb to the top of Whistler Peak on the Via Ferrata or “Iron Way”, a specially engineered vertical pathway. No prior experience needed.
13. Gaze at a Glacier. These massive ice formations are found on Whistler, Blackcomb and surrounding mountains – their size and scale is sure to impress. Even better – hike on one!
14. Wine and dine on high. From BBQs at the Horstman Hut to wine flights at Steeps Grill Wine bar, there is an incredible array of dining options on both mountains along with a host of culinary events throughout the summer. Must-do? A sunset Mountain Top BBQ at 6000 ft.
15. Walk through fields of flowers. In late summer (July and August, timing depending on snow melt) wildflowers bloom in the high alpine meadows in a stunning array of shapes and colours. Best views are from the alpine hiking trails so lace up the boots and get out there. You’ll be singing songs from the Sound of Music in no time.
There’s simply not time to take in the full majesty of the alpine in a single day – it’s worth staying longer and spending a couple of days up there to soak it all in. Be sure to check out How To Do Summer in Whistler videos for more summer vacation tips.