hidden runs at whistler blackcomb
High season Whistler, B.C. The resort is booked solid, the gondola line-ups stretch across the village, and all the locals are working over-time. For us locals, this is usually the time to knuckle down and make the most of the busy season. On a rare January morning when my all my housemates were off, we decided to brave the crowds and head up Blackcomb Mountain.
The twenty-minute wait for the gondola had us change our plan from ‘Seventh Heaven’ laps to exploring elsewhere on the mountain. Sitting on ‘Accelerator Chair’ we peered over at the trees to our left. We knew the area somewhat well from exploring on our last laps, but admittedly, none of us had spent a powder day so low on the mountain. Hopping off the chair and peeling left, while the hordes headed straight for the upper mountain, we were suddenly in a much quieter zone. Gone was the chatter of the crowds and replaced with the silent crunching of fresh snow under skis.
The entry to the trees was visible. People had clearly been in here, but it didn’t seem that the area had been plundered just yet. A small flat pad waited just inside and gave us three or four potential ways down. Without speaking to each other, we all chose different routes and set off on our way. The trees split into a wide area. Glimpses of friends turning hard and out of view. People in front pointing straight, disappearing in and out of the trees. Their cheers and screams only muted by the dense forestry. Flashes of orange pants and green jackets interrupted the blank snow. The wintery maze offered up hidden booters, powder slashes, and confidence inspiring drops. The trees spat us out on a CAT track, surprising the people riding perpendicular to us.
Before we could all catch up and talk about how unexpectedly amazing that was, I could see a housemate dropping into the next set of trees. Turning my back on everyone on the CAT track, I skated to the edge and hopped into the most satisfying knee-deep turn of the year. One of those turns that feels like it’s never going to end. Picking my jaw up off the floor and looking ahead, I again had a myriad of choices. I stayed high and was able to pick out a trail with more booters and trees so tight I had to squeeze myself through. Again, we were spat out on a CAT track, and again, we jumped straight into another set of trees.
We finally all gathered again at the bottom of ‘Accelerator Chair’. Wide eyes and smiles on all our faces. We daren’t talk about our run just in case somebody overheard us in the line. As soon as our chairlift took off again, we couldn't contain ourselves any longer. We had no idea that those unassuming trees, so low down on the mountain could provide so much. We were having so much fun that we didn’t even notice that it had started snowing again. We all looked at each other and telepathically decided that we were going to those trees again.
Again we pulled into the entrance, again it looked like hardly anybody had been here, again some of the best runs of the year, and again some of the best fun of the year. I couldn’t believe it. I felt like we had found a glitch in the system. We had decided to go against the flow, and we found one of the best runs on Blackcomb Mountain.