I’ve arrived in a Whistler that is steadily getting buried under huge snowfalls – and bizarrely is in the grip of a manhunt by the Mounties. A base* jumper – some say he was a waiter at one of Whistler’s drinking holes – had taken it upon himself to leap from a cabin of the famous Peak to Peak gondola lift that links Whistler’s skiing with that of Blackcomb’s.
OK if you get permission from the resort for an official stunt. Not big and not clever if you do it illegally and do thousands of dollars worth of damage forcing open the doors of the cabin. The jumper, leaping from a dizzying 1436 metres, was emulating the feat of the late lamented Shane McConkey who did it, with official backing, to celebrate the opening of the lift in 2008.
Police believe the 25-year-old, who they are not naming, might have already fled across the border to the States to escape heavy penalties – including an incredibly stiff-sounding maximum ten years’ jail. Meanwhile, his 23-year-old female accomplice, foolish enough to feature in the video of the escapade, has been left to face the music. In her case the Mounties got their woman. She was arrested at the Longhorn Saloon at Whistler base, where she had worked for three years. She faces a possible 5,000 dollar fine, paying for the 10,000 dollar damage -and finding a new job after being fired by the Longhorn.
Best just to use the Peak to Peak to get from Whistler’s slopes to Blackcomb’s runs – all of which are in fabulous shape at the moment. We’re enjoying the upgraded lift arrangements – the new six-person Harmony lift has replaced the old four-man chair, which has been transported over to Blackcomb to become the new Crystal Ridge chair. This makes for much easier access for continuous fun on the runs below Crystal Ridge. Some of the best skiing has been in the trees in the Crystal zone – there are endless routes down, with fabulous gladed runs such as Arthur’s Choice, so you can usually be sure of an exclusive run.
Glorious blowaway powder abounds once you reach the altitude of the mid-stations on the Whistler side, or Glacier Creek on the Blackcomb side (for those who know the resort!) – again giving the lie to the myth that Whistler is too near the ocean to have great powder. But memo to Whistler Blackcomb – it’s no good carrying on pretending that you don’t need weather bubbles on your lifts. If any resort has the weather to justify having weather bubbles then it’s Whistler. The only one at present to have them is the low level Wizard chair, the only one that doesn’t really need bubbles (except to protect visitors from the rain sometimes).
*The base in BASE jumping is an acronym for buildings, antenna, span and earth – no mention you note of gondolas.