10 Winter Sports to Try in Whistler This Season
With world-class facilities and an abundance of snow, Whistler makes for a great place to try your hand at a variety of winter sports. Better yet, as host to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, Whistler also is home to Olympic-grade venues to try out winter Olympic sports such as biathlon, bobsledding, and even skeleton. Who knows, you may just find yourself a new favourite winter sport here in Whistler.
Resort Skiing and Snowboarding
Skiing or snowboarding at the world-renowned Whistler Blackcomb resort is a must-do during your trip to Whistler from November to May. It’s the largest ski resort in North America with over two-hundred runs suitable for powder fiends ranging from first-timers to experts.
There’s no need to lug all your gear to Whistler, there are tons of rental shops in town catering to all levels and can even offer clothing rental. Book with Black Tie Rentals for delivery right to your hotel door or pop into Spicy Sports at their shops in Whistler Village and Blackcomb.
Lift tickets can be purchased online ahead of time (book before August 31st for the best rates). Epic season passes are also an option if you’ll be skiing at any other Epic resorts (there are 36+ around the world!), and BC and Washington residents can also take advantage of Edge Cards for two-, five-, and ten-day passes. Both Epic and Edge passes must be purchased before the end of November.
Lessons are available for ages three and up in the form of group lessons and private lessons. There’s something for all levels – from never ever to learning to ski the steepest and deepest lines on the mountain.
2. Backcountry Skiing and Splitboarding
Backcountry skiing and splitboarding has taken off and so long as you’re an intermediate skier or snowboarder, you can begin your backcountry journey and what better place than in Whistler. As North America’s #1 resort, WhistlerBlackcomb is also the gateway to un-patrolled backcountry access to Garibaldi Provincial Park.
Intermediate skiers can participate in Mountain Skills Academy’s ‘Intro to Backcountry’ tours that require no previous backcountry experience and will get you addicted to the winter sports. For those looking to learn more about backcountry safety, AST1 courses are the essential first step to safe backcountry use in the winter. This course along with AST2 and Crevasse Rescue are also offered by Mountain Skills Academy and Extremely Canadian.
If you are looking to rent equipment for your backcountry adventures (beacons, probes, shovels, backcountry skis and splitboards, skins, and poles), Escape Route’s Alpine Demo Centre in Whistler Village can provide you with everything you need.
Lift tickets for backcountry access on WhistlerBlackcomb must be purchased at WhistlerBlackcomb guest services and cost $59CAD + tax. The tickets are sold for a specific lift set to reach the backcountry access points and cannot be used on other lifts.
Try snowmobiling without the hefty price tag of renting or buying your own rig by taking a snowmobiling tour in Whistler. Tours range from beginner tours for those who haven’t ever driven a snowmobile before, to intermediate and advanced tours. They’ll teach you the tricks and techniques for a smooth ride through the snow and get you hooked on this winter sport.
For those with experience riding a snowmobile, Broken Boundary Adventures offers snowmobile rentals and also offer tours in some of the most spectacular areas accessible to snowmobiles. Learn how to manoeuvre your snowmobile through the deepest snow and get the best pow turns of your life.
The winter sport of snowshoeing has been around for thousands of year and is Whistler, exploring by snowshoes is a necessity to get through the deep snow. Snowshoes allow you to float on top of the snow rather than sinking in and provide an excellent workout or leisurely stroll in nature.
Snowshoeing tours are offered throughout Whistler including the popular Natural Mystic tour by The Adventure Group that takes place on Whistler Mountain and gives you a real taste of this winter sport. Those looking for an intermediate tour can do the Winter Wonderland tour, also on Whistler Mountain but with double the amount of snowshoeing time.
Snowshoes can also be rented and taken to popular destinations such as Lost Lake, the Train Wreck trail, and to Joffre Lakes Provincial Park. Spicy Sports in Whistler Village offer snowshoe rentals for children and adults that include poles and are charged for by the day
5. Nordic Skiing
The Nordic sport of cross-country skiing originated in Scandinavia thousands of years ago and was not introduced to Canada until the late 1800s. Today in Whistler, nordic skiing is enjoyed from December to late-March at several venues in the vicinity of town including the Whistler Olympic Park – home to some of Whistler’s winter Olympic sports.
The trails at Lost Lake are located steps from Whistler Village and offer twenty-five kilometres of groomed trails for both classic and skate disciplines of Nordic skiing. Rentals are provided at the PassivHaus from Cross Country Connection and have sizes for all, including trailers. Cross Country Connection also offers cross-country ski lessons for all abilities.
Whether if it is your first time or if you are an avid skier, the Whistler Olympic Park is a great place to learn or hone your skills on trails used by Olympians! As the 2010 Winter Olympic Nordic venue, you will be following in Olympian’s ski tracks as you explore close to ninety kilometres of well-marked trails ranging from green (easy), blue (intermediate), and black (advanced). Rentals are offered at the park, along with lessons for both disciplines of cross-country (classic and skate) and for all abilities
6. Bobsleigh & Skeleton
Looking to try your hand at some of the most extreme winter Olympic sports? Hop into a four-person bobsleigh steered by a trained pilot and take an adrenaline-fuelled ride down the world’s fastest track. If ten twists and turns at 125 kilometres an hour don’t get your heart racing, the acceleration of up to four G forces surely will! To take it up a notch, fly headfirst down the track on a skeleton sledge.
The Whistler Sliding Centre (where bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton events are held) is a wonderful place to visit to learn more about the 2010 Winter Olympics and about sliding sports. Professional guides are on hand to safely and enthusiastically teach you about sliding sports and it is really a unique, incredible experience to get on the most famous track in the world.
Shooting guns and skiing fast – is there another winter Olympic sports as unique and unusual? The Whistler Olympic Park is the perfect place to try your aim at the sport of biathlon. Booking a lesson is required to get your hands on a rifle and shoot in the Olympic range.
The thirty-minute lesson takes place at the range only (no skiing portion) and runs on weekdays, weekends, and holidays. So long as you’re aged ten plus, biathlon is open to all abilities and might be Whistler’s most unique experience.
Dogsledding is a method of winter travel developed by Northern Indigenous people for hauling loads across snow-covered terrain. In Whistler, there are two tour companies in town who offer dogsledding tours so you can experience this unique winter sport. Eager and powerful dog teams (along with a musher) will pull you along the trails once you’ve taken the time to harness and stage the dogs. It’s a truly Canadian experience that cannot be missed but book early – dogsledding tours book up quickly, especially over the Christmas holidays.
9. Ice Climbing
Experience the thrill of ice climbing tours while you move safely up a frozen waterfall using ice axes and crampons. No climbing experience is required and you don’t need to supply your own gear – helpful guides will provide everything you will need for the fun and safe experience of this winter sports. This day-long tour is perfect for those looking to try a wildly different winter sport and explore areas you never knew existed on and off the resort. For those looking to develop more ice climbing skills, Mountain Skills Academy also offer multi-day ice climbing courses.
10. Ice Fishing
Winter does not stop locals from fishing! The cold temperatures cause some of our lakes to freeze over but the fish are still lingering underneath waiting to be caught. After holes are drilled with an auger, you’ll be ice fishing in no time inside of a portable fishing tent complete with a heater. Enjoy the scenery and some time away from the mountain and catch some fish as you experience new winter sports.
Do You Have Enough Time to Try Them All?
Cross a bunch of winter sports off your bucket list during your trip to Whistler. Relax and enjoy the leisurely sports of snowshoeing and ice fishing or get extreme while ice climbing or bobsledding. There are professionals on hand to keep you safe and teach you the techniques of the sport, and in no time you’ll be on your way.
Your friends and family know Whistler to be the hub of skiing and snowboarding, but how surprised will they be when they see your social media posts filled with biathlon, dog sledding, and snowmobiling!