Dawn Green – Writer

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Calling all snow lovers – Whistler welcomes new Ice Kingdom

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While the slopes of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains are the main draw each winter in Whistler, there is much more beyond the expansive mountain terrain to explore.

The newest addition to Whistler’s seemingly never-ending array of adventures to enjoy is the Ice Kingdom—a winter wonderland running at the Whistler Golf Course (just across from Whistler Village).

Ice Kingdom is a magical interactive exhibit where families can explore a community of snow sculptures and an ice slide lit up with brilliant and colourful lights. Ice Kingdom public relations manager Alexandra Leo explains that Whistler is a natural location for Ice Kingdom, given its distinctive mountain culture.

“Particularly for the snow sculptures, we need a landscape which provides reliable snow for the duration of the event as well as provide for a market who have a genuine interest in winter-like events.”

Whistler it is! What is there not to love about wandering among the twenty or more interactive snow sculptures of all shapes and sizes, scooting down multiple snow slides, and warming up with a hot chocolate in the clubhouse afterwards?

But this is just one of a great number of activities you can enjoy this winter in Whistler. You may want to challenge yourself to an invigorating dog-sledding adventure, explore the valley on snowshoes, or give ice fishing a try. If you possess the need for speed, you simply cannot pass up a bobsled or skeleton ride at the Whistler Sliding Centre. Ziplining above the snow-covered landscape is another way to take your breath away or jump onto a thrilling snowmobile tour to head to unknown snowy terrain beyond the slopes.

For a more relaxed time, there’s the Peak 2 Peak sightseeing experience. Dress in your winter garb, climb onto the Whistler Village gondola and head up the mountain. At the Peak of Whistler Mountain, pause to relish the vista and then experience the feeling of pure happiness as the Peak 2 Peak gondola whisks you two kilometres across to Blackcomb Mountain.

Of course, a real holiday should also include some serious chill time. You can count on Whistler to serve up a wide range of spas, yoga studios, restaurants and après venues so you can spend a day unplugging and unwinding.

This article originally appeared in the Vancouver Sun in February, 2018


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The backcountry beckons

Photo creditTucker Sherman

Photo credit: Tucker Sherman, Flickr

I am at a loss for words. This is how I feel, faced with the daunting task of attempting to describe what lies before me, as I peer out from the top of Whistler Mountain into the vast backcountry of Fitzsimmons Valley and beyond. The backcountry has this effect on people. It’s almost mystic in its strength, enticing you to explore, yet keeping its secrets close to its heart.

And so I turn to an expert for help with unravelling its spell. Keith Reid, a professional mountain guide with Extremely Canadian Backcountry Adventures and a twenty-year veteran of the mountains, describes how its aloneness is so appealing.

“The terrain here is big, breathtaking and world-class,” he explains. “On a given day of backcountry skiing, we might traverse half a dozen glaciers and numerous high alpine peaks without crossing the path of another skier.”

Guided tours are recommended in this out-of-bounds play area— and for good reason— whether your passion is ski touring, ice climbing, heli-skiing or splitboarding. Local guiding companies, such as Whistler Alpine Guides and Extremely Canadian, can show you secret stashes of powder and most importantly, safety. The backcountry is also avalanche country and it’s reassuring to have safety experts by your side while you explore.

And what’s the best thing of all? That it’s possible to spend epic days in the backcountry then snuggle up warm and cozy in a chalet in Whistler each night.

“What differentiates the Whistler backcountry is the ability to get on a lift from the Village in the morning, backcountry ski all day, then ski back into the resort at the end of the day,” says Reid. “There is nowhere else in North America where you can access this level of terrain on a daily basis without a helicopter.”

The backcountry changes people, he adds, and maybe this is its secret, revealed.

“We introduce them to an environment which, for many, is a ski of a lifetime. Seldom does a day go by that we don’t see that twinkle in our guests’ eyes that says they have been to a magic place and accomplished something very special.”

Find out more at www.whistler.com/activities/backcountry/

By Dawn Green

~This article was published in The Vancouver Sun and The Province on 3 May 2016:

www.theprovince.com/travel/Advertisement+backcountry+beckons+Whistler/11754790/story.html