Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Now that I've written about the World Cup Ski Jump competition and the Fire & Ice show, it's time to write about the skiing.

With out a doubt, Whistler/Blackcomb is my absolute favorite place to ski. We've been coming here since 1987, when it was still two separate mountains. Usually at this time of year, the weather is pretty snowy, but this winter has been an anomoly. Whistler hasn't had new snow in several weeks. But the skiing is still pretty good.

One of the high points of this year's trip has been riding the new Peak to Peak lift, which connects the Rendezvous lodge at the top of Blackcomb with the Roundhouse lodge at the top of Whistler. This gondola sets all sorts of records, including the longest span between towers, at 1.8 miles.

Here's Brian, my son Bruce, and Mike on Monday on our morning trip across from Blackcomb to Whistler. Our condo is on Blackcomb, so after a few runs on Blackcomb we took the Peak to Peak over to the Whistler side.

I was a bit skeptical when I first heard that Interwest was going to build this thing, but we've ridden it everyday and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a great way to quickly get from one mountain to the other. Before this lift opened in December, you had to ski all the way down to the village and then take a long lift up on the other mountain. Now you can get from one mountain to the other in 12 minutes.

You also get a fantastic and dramatic view on the ride over.

While we certainly could use more snow, it's nice to ski in January at Whistler with bright blue skies. Usually it snows nearly everyday in January at Whistler.

There's also been very little wind, which has made skiing up in the high alpine quite nice. The high pressure center that has been sitting off the coast has caused a significant inversion layer. So it's actually been warmer at the top of the mountain than in the valley.

So we've had bright, crisp mornings skiing the 7th Heaven area on Blackcomb.

Don't Bruce and I look like we're having a great time. Looks aren't deceiving. I really look forward to this trip each year, skiing with my son and several of his pilot friends.

After several runs in 7th Heaven, we take the T-bar up to the top of the glacier, climb 100 yeards up above the lift, and then drop down into Whistler Bowl, which is absolutely incredible. In spite of the lack of snow, the conditions out here are still pretty remarkable, as you can see in this panorama.

Unfortunately, our skiing took a bit of a bad turn on Tuesday morning. On our first warmup run of the day, with the first fresh snow since we arrived last Wednesday, Bruce hit some ice and fell, twisting his left knee significantly as he went down. He had to be taken off the mountain in a tobaggan, with what appears to be a torn ACL. So he's done skiing for this season.

We'll head back home tomorrow.

There are lots more photos of our better skiing experiences on my Flickr site.

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