Locals race for freshies by taking the Glacier Express Quad or the 7th Heaven Express Quad and traversing skier's right to Spanky's Ladder and the trio of Garnet, Ruby, and Diamond Bowls. These are super-scary steeps where occasionally limb and life are lost. The traverse from Garnet Bowl is seriously exposed, and once you point down into Diamond Bowl, your eyes will water behind your goggles. An alternative is to head up the Showcase T-bar to the entrance of Blackcomb Glacier where you can drop the barrel-like Blowhole. From here you can hike 162 feet to what is possibly the world's most filmed jump, the legendary Wind Lip. Hike further up the glacier to the shoulder and drop the chutes off Spearhead into the Great Beyond. These areas deserve extra respect and full off-trail kit. All of the above runs funnel down to the three-mile Blackcomb Glacier Road, which returns you to the Excelerator Quad.
Another sick freeride route is on skier's left from the 7th Heaven Express Quad. Traverse the narrow ridge toward Couloir Extreme and Big Bang for a heli drop into Jersey Cream Bowl. As these slopes become tracked out, some boarders head for the huge quarterpipe to skier's right of the 7th Heaven Express Quad, while others go skier's left to some sweet glades below Zhiggy's Meadow. For great tree cruising, the Crystal Chair gives access to quick, bumpy runs which exit onto the Blackcomb Glacier Road.
The Crystal Spring Chairlift leads to the Casper Bowl Chair, which drops you above some cool intermediate to advanced stuff. If you traverse skier's left from the top, you can either drop into the mellow terrain of Sleeping Indian, or keep traversing and drop into Moran Woods, a great tree area. This can be a good place to ride on flat light days, and also when The Tram is closed due to winds (quite a frequent occurrence). Follow the fall-line and you'll end up back at Teton Village.
Simply put, the Whistler-Blackcomb terrain park kicks ass. Improvements and additions are continually made to this behemoth 16-acre funpark. The sound system, DJ booth, and picnic area add to the atmosphere of this huge playground sponsored by Nintendo 64. There are two parks available to jibbers here, an expert and not-so-expert park. The small intermediate park can be found at the top of the Catskinner chairlift to help the rookies practice before they enter the expert park and hit the bigger stuff.
You can ride the park as part of a circuit starting with the Fate Pipe and back to the Solar Coaster Express Quad via the black diamond charger Freefall. Park fanatics can take the Catskinner Chair, which services the length of the pipe and park only.
Beginners can see the whole mountain by taking the Crystal Traverse down to Crystal Road, ending with Green Line back down to the base of the Wizard Express Quad. From the Crystal Chair, Rock n' Roll, and Ridge Runner will give intermediates a rush similar to Buzz Cut and Expresso under the Excelerator Quad. For a longer burn with occasional bumps, head down Springboard under the lift line of the Solar Coaster Express Quad. A more undulating run from the same lift is Choker down to Slingshot and onto Lower Gear Jammer. "Liftee's pick" is posted at the lifts, naming the daily groomed runs and the lifts take to get you there.
Some of the world's best heliboarding takes place here. Heliboarding companies offer a wide variety of trips, including those that cover a vertical drop of 8,000 to 10,000 feet in three runs. Do your research, found out how much you're willing to spend, and shop around for a heliboard company that's right for you. There are plenty in town.
The Nitty Gritty
Summit: 7,494 ft.
Vertical drop: 5,280 ft.
Snowfall: (Combined with Whistler)
Annual average: 360 inches
Area: (Combined with Whistler)
Total Area: 6,998 acres
Advanced: 25 percent
Intermediate: 55 percent
Beginner: 20 percent
Number of lifts: 1 gondola, 6 high-speed quads, 4 chairlifts, 2 T-bars, 3 handle-tows, 1 platter lift
Hazards and Rules: An average of 15 people die each year (mostly out of bounds) in the Whistler-Blackcomb area so it's important to take an Ortovox transceiver and all the rest of the kit. Pay attention to the flashing lights that signal high-risk areas, and go with someone who knows the backcountry traps.
Snowboard School: Contact Blackcomb Mountain Snowboard School at 604-938-7720 for rates and programs.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication