When I first arrived in Whistler in the December of 2004, the resort looked pretty bleak. Early season snow had come but had already had been rained away.
Disappointment was an understatement. This was my one and only winter — or so I thought — to experience the great Whistler Blackcomb. Where was the snow that everyone talked about?
Powder days were infrequent, and after a few bruising crashes, I was almost afraid of skiing powder with all the lurking hazards underneath the surface. It rained to the top of the mountains for about six weeks straight at one point.
This was no ordinary Pineapple Express. The weather experts termed it a “Tropical Punch.”
“Worst winter in 30 years,” was what the locals were calling it.
Whistler has been pretty lucky since that season. The El Niño years have come in warm and heavy but with acceptable freezing levels. The other seasons were stellar for snowfall, we set a few monthly records and had the resort’s second biggest snow year ever. The few “average” years at least dropped a decent base and offered sunshine as a consolation.
After living here 10 seasons, I have a rule — I don’t bitch about the weather. I try to be a glass half-full kind of guy most of the time and find something fun to do.
Here are some winter activities to for the snow-starved masses.
According to staff at Pemberton Bike Co., trails in Pemberton were in peak condition until the most recent storm. Really. You could climb the entire Big Nimby trail all the way and descend downhill trails like Creampuff.
Squamish was experiencing similar conditions, and on Diamond Head you could climb to the top of classic trails like Half Nelson and Angry Midget. The recent cold snap did form some patches of blue ice, but most have broken down by now.
The latest storm brought some snow to both Pemberton and Squamish, but not that much — and there is some more warm weather in the forecast.
Temperatures are great for long distance running on the trail networks of the lower valley. River Runs Through It is an excellent running trail when clear, just remember to watch your step on the very slippery wood features.
Pemberton has some of the best ice fishing in B.C. with five pound rainbow trout being caught all winter long. Mosquito and Blackwater Lakes currently have the best conditions. You’ll need an auger to tap into the ice and your B.C. Fisheries License (available online). In Whistler the best ice fishing can be had on Lost, Alpha and Nita Lakes (just check the ice first before going out). Check out pembertonfishfinder.com.