Whistler & the Stawamus Chief
#BeautifulBC is one of the most hashtagged references to Vancouver and British Columbia so I was keen to see what all the fuss was about. I am also a keen skiier (but do not interpret keen as accomplished) and I wanted to take the opportunity to ski at Whistler, one of the premier ski destinations that us Europeans drool about when trying to ski down a dry slope in Stoke or Llandudno in the driving rain on a August afternoon.
Therefore I was in luck to find out that Emily, Sam’s best friend has a family chalet in Whistler and it was available for the weekend. It seemed a perfect opportunity to spend time with Sam’s family and friends in somewhere that wasn’t a downtown Vancouver bar at 1am. We were joined on the trip by Emily and fiance Tyler / Sisterwives Char and Jen (with David and Navid respectfully) and Davids brother Scott.
With work commitments most of the gang would head up to Whistler in the afternoon, Emily and Tyler (her fiance) however had the day off so we decided to make a day of the drive up to Whistler. The journey is only 90 minutes but it travels along the Sea-to-Sky Highway which Tyler confidently informs me is one of the beautiful roads in the world. I only really have the M62 and the house in the middle of the motorway to compare him too but I can happily say he wasn’t wrong.
After a late breakfast in Horseshoe Bay, our next destination was the Stawamus Chief.
The Stawamus Chief
The Stawamus Chief is a popular hiking destination for Vancouverites. It is just an hour from downtown Vancouver and on the main highway to Whistler making it an ideal stop off destination.
The Chief towers above the town of Squamish and offers scenic views of Howe Sound and several mountains in the Garibaldi Provincial Park. The walk is tough, taking about 90 minutes to the top but the path is well trodden and even allows walkers to bring their dogs.
The walk was tough, especially as I decided to wear jeans (who does that, especially someone who spends so much time outside) but the views more than made up for this. We only did the first peak (South Peak) which is the easiest and shortest of the climbs. We could of attempted the other 2, (and next time I will) but a lazy morning, a lazier place and the promise of Whistler fun halted our progress. Still, there was time for a quick selfie at the top.
We arrived in Whistler about 5pm and our first job was to get supplies for the weekend. With people travelling straight up from work it is the Canadian thing to do ;). Spag bol was on the menu for anyone interested. We also had to go to another shop to get alcohol, something as a Brit I will get used to. WHY DO YOU NEED ANOTHER SHOP.
Emily’s chalet was beautiful, full of character and comforts and a hot tub big enough for us all to fit comfortably inside. It even had a ledge for Jen/Navids Chocolate lab Olive to sit.
Whistler is known as a party town and many people go there to let loose and cut shapes, however before we did this, I had a mountain to ski.
Skiing Whistler Mountain
2014/2015 was described to me, by Dave and his brother Scott as we sat on the first lift heading up the mountain as ‘the worst snow conditions he has ever seen on the mountain…. ‘ GREAT, nevertheless snow is snow and we were sure that as we headed up the mountain the snow cover would be greater and we would find some slopes to ski down. The poor snow conditions also meant that a typically busy Saturday was actually rather manageable so every silver linings and all that.
They were both boarders, and very adept at going fast, practically straight down which didn’t suit my novice meandering. So, after a few runs I let them loose and they would do 2 runs to my one which isn’t even an exaggeration. It did give me time to mess around with the GoPro though. No videos made the cut because all you can see are my feet and realise how slow I actually go………
Lunch was a simple affair of pizza (well I am on holiday) and a beer and after, with my confidence building the lads took me down some of the harder to reach slopes. By harder to reach I mean you take off your ski’s and climb. The trek was worth the effort as the snow on these slopes were hardly touched and I got to experience some powder for the first time of the day.
The day flew by and we started to meander down the mountain. Whistler is traditionally a resort where you can ski directly to the village on a multitude of slopes. With the poor conditions there was only one half a slope open with every snow machine trying to ‘stop the rot’. At the end of the day it can only be described as wacky races as every skiier of all ages and abilities pile down the hill. I almost killed 3 children who zoomed in front of me, devoid of any fear. I would like to visit Whistler again for a day of ‘proper snow’ because I loved the worst conditions ever.
That night, we joined the rest of the gang and headed out. A combination of tiredness from the day and too much beer meant my memory is hazy. It was the final of the Cricket World Club though (bloody Australia).
Overall, it was a great weekend and gave me a true appreciation of how beautiful #beautifulBC really is.
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