Imagine the cries of “Wow, look at that!” combined with looks of utter surprise on the faces of a band of intrepid hikers who first gazed up in wonder at the massive walls lining Whistler Mountain’s Pika’s Traverse road. This was circa fifteen years ago and the happy pioneers had just stumbled upon the phenomenon which would later be dubbed the ‘snow walls’.
The road had just been plowed to enable access to the summer operations on the mountain following a particularly exceptional snow fall, and after the snowplow had done its work, the resulting walls towered over 10 metres in height.
It’s no surprise that word of this remarkable annual event quickly spread like wildfire until we get to today where it has morphed into the likes of local legend, which has to be experienced to be believed.
Whistler Blackcomb’s mountain manager Adam Francis describes the snow wall walk as being as awe-inspiring today as it was fifteen years ago.
“Seeing the soaring white walls set against the blue sky with occasional views of the surrounding peaks is really spectacular,” he says, adding that the air is noticeably cooler near the snow walls so on a hot day, it makes for a refreshing walk.
And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better than that, there’s even a reward at the end of the walk.
“The snow walls are a sight unto themselves with the white walls and blue sky, but they finish at the peak of Whistler Mountain which affords 360 degree views of the surrounding Garibaldi Provincial Park, including the iconic Black Tusk,” Francis says.
After the breathtaking chairlift ride up Blackcomb Mountain and across the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola, a hike up to the snow walls is the perfect way to press pause on our busy lives and tune in to the magnificence of our natural world instead.
With the Peak Express chair now open, accessing the snow walls could not be easier, so bring the whole family along for the outing, but be aware that there’s a short window of time to do the walk before it melts away until next year.
This article originally appeared in the Vancouver Sun on July 11, 2017.