Because the twin mountains of Whistler and Blackcomb are so big, the weather can be completely different from top to bottom in winter. Rain in the village may well mean great snow higher up. The clouds might just be hiding a bluebird sky—and it’s only a matter of taking enough chairlifts to find it. Temps also vary significantly with altitude—when the base area is 45 degrees, the peaks could be 20. They vary significantly from week to week, too: Sometimes it’s 22 below zero, and sometimes it’s above freezing. Thanks to storms peeling off the Pacific, there’s always plenty of snow (sometimes light and powdery, sometimes not), often enough to keep the upper reaches of the resort humming well into summer.
And, as you’d expect from one of North America’s largest and highest-rated ski resorts, Whistler knows how to put on a winter show, whether it’s WinterPride, the largest gay ski event in Canada, or the ten-day TELUS World Ski & Snowboard Festival, which pulls in filmmakers, photographers, athletes, DJs, and bands from all over the world in April. The 2011–12 season also marks the first time in Whistler’s history that Olympic events like the bobsled will be open to the thrill-seeking segment of the public.
Autumns are crisp and clear, with cooler evening temps and stunning fall foliage. Events like November’s Cornucopia food and wine festival keep things buzzing until the resort opens on Thanksgiving (weather permitting). The mud season (spring) can get a bit … dirty thanks to all the snow melt. But you can go hiking, biking, and skiing—in one day, provided you don’t mind getting more than a little dirty (especially in April). You’ll also find thinner crowds and discounted accommodations during the spring and fall shoulder seasons.
July and August have days that hit the low 80s, with cool nights that require a light jacket. With such perfect conditions, it’s no surprise that Whistler seems to host a competition every weekend throughout the summer, from skateboarding to downhill mountain biking to trail running. In fact, in July, Whistler even hosts the Canadian Cheese Rolling Championships, in which contestants run down Blackcomb Mountain chasing an 11-pound wheel of cheese.