Known for having one of the longest ski seasons in North America, Whistler Blackcomb's glaciated, high-alpine peaks got even more accessible this month with the opening of the resort's new high-speed Crystal Ridge Express on the north side of Blackcomb and Harmony 6 Express on the edge of Whistler mountain.
"It's a big deal to the locals because they love this side, but it was a struggle to get up here, and now you can just do laps, and it's a beautiful area," said Frank Muryn, 72, a retired commercial fisherman who has been skiing Whistler since the late seventies.
The new high-speed quad, opened just in time for the Whistler Film Festival, replaced a fixed-grip triple chair and has increased capacity up the mountain by 2,400 skiers an hour. But regulars are most excited about the increased access to the Crystal Zone, a 400-acre area containing everything from steep cruisers to tight glades. For advanced skiers, the lift promises shorter trips to Blackcomb's wild glacial bowls.
"The way it was before there was a long run out to get back up here," Muryn explained. "It was really quiet all the time, and it was really just the people who knew how good it was."
The high-speed Harmony 6 Express lift was designed to provide quicker access to the Harmony Zone, 1,200-plus acres containing some of the mountain’s most popular intermediate runs. The line is great news for families and skiers looking to try out various types of terrain.
Whistler Blackcomb resort last expanded in 2008, prior to hosting the 2010 Olympic Games, by opening its jaw-dropping Peak 2 Peak gondola. The 1.9-mile-long tri-cable lift holds the longest freespan between towers (1.88 miles) and the highest point above ground (1,430 feet).
What the new lifts mean for skiers headed Vancouver way is that anyone on the Whistler side can take the Crystal Ridge to the Peak 2 Peak and make it to Blackcomb in no time. What it means in a more general sense is that this massive ski area isn't done expanding.
More information: For general resort info, activity planning, and accommodation booking, visit whistlerblackcomb.com.