Whistler: Snow White, Snow Bright

MARCH 2009…

Whistler is a mere 90-minute drive from Vancouver, approximately 125 km north. In summer, it is popular for hiking, golf and mountain biking. But in winter, it’s all about the skiing. While I wasn’t there for the skiing, the proximity to Vancouver was too close to pass up a visit.

With Whistler just a daily commute’s time away, I guess you could ski in the morning and hit the beach in the afternoon if you really wanted to. Then again, if it’s cold enough to ski, it probably isn’t warm enough to hit the beach yet, no?

Anyway, we bundled ourselves up warmly and started the drive to Whistler first thing in the morning. From the suburbs, we drove through downtown Vancouver and crossed the Lions Gate Bridge into North Vancouver. Soon, the landscape started to change and where grass lined the roadsides, snow now covered them. Even from the rest stop, we could already see the snow-capped mountains in the distance, like a sneak preview of what was to come.

Whistler Blackcomb is the largest ski resort in North America. Encompassing two mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb, it attracts over 2 million visitors a year. Not only that, it hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics’ alpine skiing events, which, no doubt, elevated it to superstar status.

Snow-covered landscape at Whistler, Vancouver.

The snow-covered landscape at Whistler, definitely a scene I don’t see every day.

Even before we got to the ski slopes, there were lots of distractions: snow-capped mountains, snow-covered landscapes, snow-laden trees and snow-buried bridges. Even an innocent pile of snow was a photo stop. If you’re wondering what all the fuss is about – well, this was my first time seeing snow and so much of it at once. So, bear with me.

A bench covered in snow at Whistler, Vancouver.

A snow-buried bridge. Or is it a bench? I don’t know really.

To get to the slopes, we had to pass through Whistler Village and I must say, we almost didn’t make it through. With its pretty buildings and cobbled streets, it’s hard to persuade yourself to just walk through it without stopping at any of the shops.

The pretty buildings and cobbled streets of Whistler Village, Vancouver.

Walking through Whistler Village felt like walking through a Christmas Village
with its beautifully designed buildings and cobbled streets.

But walk through it we did and we finally got to the slopes. Sad to say, it wasn’t what I expected. I mean, it didn’t look as pretty as it did on TV, probably because of the heavy footfall and the angle of the sun. I can now see why people get blinded by snow. I struggled to keep my eyes open due to the glare reflecting off the snow and regretted not bringing my shades.

The ski slopes at Whistler, Vancouver.

Finally at the slopes. I suppose it is more fun up there than down here,
which all I got was the glaring sun.

On our way back from Whistler, we stopped by a lake on a whim. And it turned out to be a good whim. The lake was frozen over with a thin layer of ice and along with it, a frozen waterfall on one of the rock surfaces. Ahh… the beauty of winter.

A frozen waterfall enroute from Whistler back to Vancouver.

A waterfall frozen in time (and the cold weather).

Ironically, it started to snow when we got back to Vancouver (it didn’t snow at Whistler). Stunned at my good luck, I thanked the heavens as if it was the first rainfall after a prolonged drought. I stood on the porch of the house to let the snow fall all over me. I opened my palms to catch the snow and wondered with amazement how they were all so perfectly round. I took countless pictures and videos, wanting to capture this memory as best as I can.

Already delighted at the unexpected snowfall, I had an even bigger surprise the next morning. It had snowed through the night and I woke up to a white Christmas. This was the stuff of dreams! Everything was covered with a layer of snow and it looked like the whole street had been showered in icing sugar.

A snow-covered tree on the streets of Vancouver.

This was way prettier than what I saw at Whistler.

Do pardon my excitement if you are one of those who hates winter or often gets snowed in. I guess the grass is always greener on the other side. We tropical folks never understand how our temperate friends stay in the afternoon sun all day long. We would rather hide in an air-conditioned mall at any time.

Yup, for people who live in the tropics where it’s summer all year long, seeing snow has the effect of seeing a nature great like the Grand Canyon or the Northern Lights. And I do not exaggerate. Okay… maybe it’s just me.

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