How to Make the Most of Spring Skiing in Whistler
Spring has sprung in Whistler, and everyone is excited about the late-season skiing/riding. Spring can be an excellent opportunity to work on technique, tricks or shred in fabulous costumes. But, in the spirit of the season, operations run a little different during this time. Ski School lessons are still running at discounted prices, operations hours differ, and certain chair lifts aren’t spinning.
Spring also brings Whistler Blackcomb’s annual Gaper day, which means you can dress up in retro gear and ski with the locals. Read on to learn how to take advantage of Whistler’s spring skiing this season and how to treat your equipment during the warm temps and then store them for the summer.
The mountain runs a little differently in the spring than earlier in the season. With maintenance needing to get going on opening the bike park, Whistler Mountain typically shuts in late April. However, luckily, Blackcomb mountain remains open until the May long weekend. As sad as it is to see Whistler close, we’re incredibly grateful to be able to ride into May on Blackcomb; There are only a handful of resorts you’re able to ski that late in the season. So, before you set out for your first day of spring skiing, here is everything you need to know:
- Hours of operation are 10AM to 4 PM.
- Certain lifts, Glacier Chair, and ShowCase T-Bar will be closed for the remainder of the season, and Crystal Chair will only be spinning on the weekends. The Blackcomb
- Gondola, Excalibur Gondola, Excelorator Chair, Jersey Cream, Catskinner, and the famous 7th Heaven Chair will be running daily.
- After Whistler Mountain closed, lift tickets have been discounted to $95 CAD plus GST when pre-purchased online. There’s no better time to get out, enjoy the sunshine, and push your comfort zone.
If you’re looking to head into the backcountry, you have two options to access either Whistler or Blackcomb. At the base of Whistler Mountain, there is a two-way single-track path called ‘The Singing Pass,’ traveling up into the backcountry. Be cautious late-season; the trail may thaw, you will be forced to walk sections, and bridges could be broken. Try checking Trail Forks for updates on current Trail conditions. The Blackcomb backcountry is much more accessible as you can use the gondolas and 7th Heaven Chair to make most of the elevation gain. Unfortunately, the Show-Case T-bar is not open, meaning you will need to start your climb from the bottom. Once you’re across the Blackcomb Glacier and in the Backcountry, it’s all upwards and then all the way down. Literally.
Gaper Day Celebrations
Gaper Day in Whistler is an honored tradition, celebrated by longtime locals, seasonal employees, and out-of-towners. If you’re not familiar with Whistler’s Gaper Day, it’s the last day of the season, where skiers and snowboarders come together to enjoy the final shred day. Back in the 90s, it used to be referred to as the “Ski in Jeans Day,” but once more retro ski suits started making their debut, the name was changed. Typically the Mountain takes this opportunity to plan World Ski & Snowboard festival events such as a slush cup, scavenger hunt, and a series of races.
Each season we’re fortunate to have not only one but two excuses to dress up in ridiculous costumes and ride around as we celebrate Gaper Day on both mountains’ closing day. You can find the Whistler Blackcomb closing dates each season on their website to help plan your next getaway. So, grab Mum, Dad, Granny’s or just about anyone’s old ski suit, visit a thrift shop to find the best Gaper costume, and hit the slopes to join the festivities.
Discounted Ski School Rates
Have you always wanted to take a Ski School Private lesson but couldn’t pull the trigger? Spring is your time to shine. Now that only one mountain is open, privates are 50% cheaper! You can purchase a full-day private for up to 6 people for only $499+GST. Or book a three-hour lesson for only $299+GST. Whether you’re looking to work on fundamentals, off-piste techniques, or finally nail a 360, this is the perfect opportunity. With limited terrain and constantly changing conditions, why not hire someone to make the best decisions for you and your group. All while skipping those pesky lift lines. Whistler Blackcomb is not running at total staff capacity during this time; if you want to book a private, we would suggest planning ahead.
Warm spring conditions make for fantastic slushy bumps and enjoyable groomers, but in the steeper alpine areas, the rapid warming can cause dangerous avalanche terrain. Patrol does a fabulous job mitigating risks and managing runs; hiring a guide can be a great additional way of helping keep you safe on the mountain.
Hot Wax Prepping and Summer Storage
Don’t get left behind this spring. You could get stuck on the flats without the proper warm temperature wax while your pals soar by. Nobody wants to be “that person” who holds the group up from another slushy lap. Pick up some yellow 0 to 10-degree wax; you’ll glide around like lightning. If you don’t have the time to wax them yourself, a few shops in town haven’t fully transitioned to bike season, the Carleton Tuning Shop, Underground tuning, Spicy Sports Tuning Workshop, and Showcase. They will have your skis or board flying across that sticky snow.
Once Gaper Day finally comes around, or you’ve decided today will be your last day, it’s time to pack the skis or boards away for the summer season. The first step is to clean the skis/board and get any dirt or debris off. Soap and warm water should do the trick; if your bases are particularly rough, you may want to consider using a base cleaner.
The next step is to remove any nicks and burrs from your edges. Filing the nicks down helps reduce the risk of rust build-up over the summer. After giving your equipment some love, it’s time for the finishing touches. Heat your iron and grab a block of storage wax; it’s time to coat the bases to protect them from drying out. When finding a new storage spot for your equipment, consider a room temperature space, avoiding direct sunlight and hot/damp areas. Finally, don’t forget when you’re pulling your gear out for the new season, remove all the storage; it will not be coming off itself on the first ski/ride day.
Now that you have all the tips and tricks for a successful spring season, it’s time to get after the slushy goodness. April can be the best time of year to ride, with extended daylight, slushy lower mountain, and dry alpine snow. It’s the best of both worlds, some years we’re skiing powder into May, other years we enjoy lower mountain slush, and endless sunshine.
One of the most exciting things about spring skiing is the lack of winter FOMO (fear of missing out for those not down with the kids); many locals switch to bike season so enjoy shorter lift lines and untouched snow as there is still great skiing to be had. So, it’s time for you to take the spring skiing vacation you deserve, soak in the sunshine and work on your goggle tan!