Lifestyle & Travel

Sep 1, 2015

Whistler is unique

British Columbia has ten mountain ranges that push west from The Rockies in a crowded parade until they fall into the Pacific. Thousand year old trees that deftly divide the light falling on an impossibly green forest floor. Glacier-fed streams that pour through steep valleys to join swollen rivers.

Higher up, mountain passes link whole ecosystems, and watersheds. It's a wild place where Mother Nature creates the boundaries. Not man. And while she demands respect, her handiwork offers massive rewards for those wild at heart. Whistler and Blackcomb are two side-by-side mountains which combined offer over 200 marked runs, 8,171 acres of terrain, 16 alpine bowls and three glaciers. In the summer, Whistler Blackcomb offers a variety of activities, including hiking and biking trails, the Whistler Mountain Bike Park, and sightseeing on the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola. Get the latest reports, weather forecasts and live conditions to plan your day.

This abundant, nurturing landscape has sustained our ancient societies for 10,000 years. And today, some of those settlements have grown into cities that cling to the edge of wilderness, and won't let go. Because the people here, are here for a reason: to live within arm's reach of nature's richness. To ski world-renowned resorts, surf Pacific swells, swim in shockingly clear mountain lakes, hike to a glacier and back in a day. And all that activity breathes energy into our culture of hospitality.

Culture & History

In a land of remote wilderness, the Coast Salish inhabited much of the area in and around Whistler. They criss-crossed the landscape via an overland route, the basis for today's Highway 99. Before the world-famous slopes, resorts and high altitude action, Whistler Valley had a fascinating pioneer history.

In the 1860s, British Naval Officers arrived to survey the area, and gave Whistler Mountain the original name of London Mountain. In the early 1900s, the region became a base for trappers, loggers and miners. They named the area "Whistler" because of the shrill whistle sound made by Hoary Marmots living among the rocks.

The area would take on a new dimension with the arrival of two fearless pioneers, Myrtle and Alex Philip. When the couple arrived at Alta Lake, site of present-day Whistler, there was no road and no railway. The couple made their way by ferry, two-horse buckboard stage, and on foot.

They settled near Alta Lake, bought 4ha/10ac of land, and built Rainbow Lodge on the lake's shores in 1914. The "Whistler dream" began to take shape. The first tourists drawn to Rainbow Lodge came to cast for trout.

Two years later, railway expansion helped link Whistler Valley to the outside world. The Pacific Great Eastern Railway (now BC Rail) was built to Alta Lake in 1914. By the early 1920s, Rainbow Lodge became the most popular summer destination west of the Rocky Mountains. Trace Whistler's fascinating history, from early pioneers to the present day, at the Whistler Museum.

Hitting the slopes

In 1962, Vancouver businessmen launched plans to develop Whistler Mountain as a potential site for the Winter Olympic Games. Roads to the region were extended, and after the construction of a four-person gondola, a double chairlift, 2 T-bars and a day lodge, Whistler was officially opened for skiing in 1966.

Through the years the resort expanded with additions to Whistler Village. In 1980, Blackcomb Mountain opened, making Whistler Blackcomb one of the largest ski complexes in North America. Some 25 years later, Whistler would be considered among the top ski resorts on any continent.

In July 2003, Vancouver was named the host city for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games; a number of venues for the games were located in Whistler. That same year, Whistler Blackcomb was voted the "Number One Ski Resort in America" by Skiing Magazine.

Skiers and snowboarders from around the world continue to descend on these pristine peaks and their two mountains, three glaciers, 12 magnificent bowls, 200 marked trails and 3,306ha/8,171ac of skiable terrain. From its origins as a wilderness summer resort, Whistler has transformed into a world-renowned, four-season resort destination.

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