Posted by: Feet Banks
It’s never to late to touch the sky, or last season’s snow.
As winter approaches, Whistler Blackcomb stops the ski lifts (and the Peak 2 Peak gondola) to run maintenance and prepare for the upcoming winter. This suddenly makes it a lot tougher to get up to the tops of the mountains and enjoy our awesome Coast Mountain scenery.
Tougher, but not impossible. The best ways to get high up in the mountains this autumn is on a Jeep tour, atop an ATV, or with your own two feet.
“We operate until the snow comes and pushes back down the mountain,” says Craig Beattie of Canadian Wilderness Adventures. “If you wanna get up the hill our Jeeps go all the way to the top of Blackcomb. You get way up, high enough to touch snow.”
The 4×4 Jeeps are warm, rugged, and a perfect all-weather option but Canadian Wilderness also runs ATV tours for people who want to channel their inner kid and get a bit of mud flying. “We have full rain gear for anyone,” Craig adds “so it’s actually good clean fun.”
A tour with Craig and his team is the only way to access the ski hill until winter begins but adventurous snow seekers can lace up the hiking boots and hook up with the Whistler Alpine Guides Bureau for a trek into mountains equally magnificent.
“These days we are taking people up for multi-day hut-based hiking trips,” says Andrea de Vries, operations coordinator with the Whistler Alpine Guides Bureau. “But the Joffre Lakes area is still an awesome option for day hikes. The trails are clear, the fall colours are out and there will be some snowcapped peaks coming any day now.”
For shorter hikes the Alpine Guides Bureau still offers trips to Cheakamus Lake and the Brandywine Falls area but Andrea recommends calling 24 hours in advance to ensure they have time to arrange everything.
Of course, skilled hikers are always welcome to head into the hills on their own but be wary, the snow and cold weather can roll in with a moment’s notice this time of year, and the mountains can get dangerous fast. “I’d recommend people make sure they are packed as if they may have to spend a night out there,” Andrea says. “Even if they are just planning on a day trip — a headlamp, tarp, rain gear and warm clothes are important just in case.”
The other option, the easiest, is to simply book a helicopter tour. The Whistler peaks and backcountry look incredible from the air but the helicopters can only fly when cloud coverage permits good visibility.
Otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with a day at the spa either. The mountains will still be there tomorrow.