A Day In Whistler
By Henry Schlee
The snow is falling furiously outside my window when I am woken by telephone ringing at 0710. I remember that I asked to be called early if it was snowing, and Stefan, my hunky Austrian instructor is at the other end of the line. "I'll see you at the bottom of the Creekside gondola in 20 minutes", he says. "Can you really make it that quickly?". He doesn't realize that I am staying at one of Holiday Whistler's ski-in, ski-out homes in Taluswood, a spectacular development of ski lodge homes on the lower slopes of Whistler Mountain. All I have to do is pull my ski clothes on, ease into my boots, grab my skis and poles, press the button that opens the garage door and walk the 10 yards to the ski-out trail. A minute later I am at the bottom of the gondola. In fact - and to his astonishment - I am here before Stefan. It is only 7.24. We have agreed to meet early to take advantage of the conditions. We have our "Fresh Tracks tickets, which entitle us to catch the first lift up and breakfast at the Roundhouse. Whistler skiers know that when the snow is falling heavily in the Village it is really falling at the top - after all, it's over a vertical mile higher - and that if they want to find some untracked snow without a hour's hike they"d better be first up the mountain, which means "Fresh Tracks".
Stefan has moved to Whistler from Kitzbuhel. He has transferred from the legendary Rote Teufel - the Red Devils of the Kitzbuhel Skischool - to the equally legendary Whistler-Blackcomb Ski School. After we have eaten our fill at the Roundhouse (which is not round at all, but apparently it once was) the all clear is sounded and we rush out onto the slopes. It is still snowing like hell, but following Stefan makes this somewhat easier: he knows every mogul on the mountain and his smooth rhythms through the powder, which he can effortlessly modulate to stay just ahead of me, are almost as good a guide as bright sunshine and some nearby trees for definition. Needless to say, my thighs are burning and my goggles (c. 1991) are fogged up from the sweat of my brow. Naturally, Stefan's Oakley goggles (c. 2005) are crystal clear, since this is not even a mild workout for him.
We are among the first onto the Peak Chair, whence originate some of Whistler's best and least know powder runs. Our first run is Christmas Trees, which starts parallel to the Peak Chair but then angles off to the left down a ridge of trees more or less parallel to Big Red. There are many routes through these trees but you have to know them as there are also many traps for the unwary. Luckily Stefan can ski his way through these trees blindfold. We do this run a couple of times and try some of the double black diamond runs off the Harmony Ridge - so much snow has fallen that even though I fall down after every jump my landing is soft as, well as Whistler powder.
After a full day with Stefan I ski back to my front door - literally - peel off my clothes and sink into the hot tub, which is nestled in the woods at the back of the townhome. I have taken the precaution of booking a masseuse; after the powerful jets have done their work she starts hers An hour later her powerful fingers have done the trick and I am feeling immensely relaxed and deeply somnolent. I worry - well I worry a little - about whether a stiff cocktail will knock me out or revive me for the evening's activities, but as the ice-cold Martini is absorbed into my blood stream I find myself quite ready for an evening's dining at one of Whistler's legendary restaurants. Another great day in Whistler.
About The Author
Henry Schlee is the owner of Holiday Whistler, the leading boutique property management firm in Whistler. Visit www.holidaywhistler.com for a great choice of rental accommodation.