Posted by: Feet Banks
Let’s not kid ourselves. One of the reasons Whistler loves summer so much is because it snows here five or six months of the year and rains for at least two, so when the summer sun finally does shine down on our quiet mountain town, we go for it. After a couple of the snowiest winters on record and a less-than-shining spring Whistler locals are celebrating the blue skies and hot days by basking on the docks, frolicking in the lakes and hiking or biking beneath the shaded canopies of our stunning giant forests.
But many forget that those same mountains that give us so much winter enjoyment can offer just as many good times in the summer months. So grab your sunscreen and hit the ski hills as both Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains provide access to the alpine via the Village Gondola up Whistler or the Wizard Express chairlift at the Blackcomb base. (note the Wizard only runs until September 3, 2012).
Here are theThe Whistler Insider ‘s Top 5 Summer On-Mountain Experiences
#5 – Stop and Smell the Wildflowers
Or stop and take a picture of them, or make a painting, or at least stop and stare. The mountains around Whistler are home to nine native species of alpine wildflower and mid-to-late summer is when the alpine meadows transform into stunning fields of natural colour. The hiking trails off Whistler or Blackcomb will take you out amongst purple-hued Fireweed, crimson Indian Paintbrushes and more. Plus, the repetitive one-foot-in-front-of-the-the-other rhythm of hiking is a great way to zone out the brain and escape from the hustle and bustle of our regular lives.
The coolest alpine flower is the Western Anemone or Western Pasque Flower that resembles something out of a Dr Seuss story. Kids love them. Check out this handy Wildflower Guide and see if you can you find them all?
As well, this Mountain Hiking Map gives a good look at what trails are up there or you can hire a professional hiking guide from the to show you around..
#4 – Get Rad: Summer Skiing and Riding on the Horstman Glacier
Skiing in your shorts and a T-shirt is one of those things everyone really should do at least once in life but even folks not into sliding on snow can get a feel for the action by watching from the sidelines (or from the deck, with a drink and a burger.)
Glacier skiing and riding on Blackcomb runs until July 29,2012 on the Horstman Glacier atop 7th heaven Chairlift. The terrain is pretty basic but it’s definitely an experience and the public terrain park offers rippers a chance to get a jump on next season’s tricks.
For the less adventurous, it’s fun to just get up to the edge of the glacier and watch all the kids in the summer ski and snowboard camps huck themselves skyward. The deck of the Horstman Hut also has cold drinks and hot BBQ, with some pretty amazing views of Whistler Mountain and Garibaldi Park.
#3 – Get Really High: Ride the Peak 2 Peak Gondola
This one kind of goes without saying. Whistler’s newest big attraction is also its most popular but the truth is the experience lives up to the hype. At it’s highest point The Peak 2 Peak is 436m/1427 feet above Fitzsimmons Creek and the valley below. Which makes it Whistler’s easiest way to really get some air under your toes (kids love the cabins with the glass bottom.) Go for a short walk on either mountain top and build your own Inukshuk to complete the full alpine experience.
#2 – Try Some Food with a View
Eat your face off at the Mountain-Top BBQ’s held every weekend on Whistler Mountain. Running at 5pm on Fri-Sunday until September 8, 2012, the BBQ series also includes live entertainment and some of the best dinner views going.
The BBQ series is not the only option however. All the on-mountain restaurants serve food daily and anyone can bring a bag lunch for a hiking picnic. Over on Blackcomb, Christine’s Restaurant offers exceptional full-service dining options. However you get it, food always tastes better at 6000ft.
#1 – Snowball Fight!
The joy of pelting your own friends and family with a snowball is a Canadian experience that everyone should partake in. To be able to do it in the summer, in the warm sun, makes it all that much more enjoyable.
Snowball fights capture the magic of being a child, of doing stuff “just because” and living in the moment. Whistler, to some extent, was built on those same tenets and a childlike attitude towards unadulterated fun persists throughout the town, winter or summer. So grab onto a piece of that playfulness, then throw it at someone your love.
Check out this video of alpine hiking on Blackcomb Mountain.