Late April is the cruelest part of the cruelest month for skiers and snowboarders watching resorts across the Rockies and the Northeast turn off the lifts. Not so in British Columbia, where winter and spring happily coexist thanks to higher latitudes and a local willingness to bundle up before hitting the links.
On Whistler Blackcomb, spring brings warmer temperatures, longer days, sun-soaked patios, soft corn snow, and pristine terrain parks. Even after Whistler closes on April 21, Blackcomb’s nearly 3,500 acres stay open until late May, meaning long runs like Harmony Ridge and 7th Heaven offer stubborn skiers views of the green Whistler Valley below.
Bicyclists arrive in this part of the Coast Mountains on the heels of the snowmelt. Fat-tire specialists head toward Whistler Village and Comfortably Numb, officially named an “Epic Ride” by the International Mountain Bike Association, before taking to the patio of the 7,494-foot-high Horstman Hut for brews and views of the glistening Horstman Glacier.
Golfers can also find their early season form at Whistler’s four award-winning golf courses, which begin opening the third week of April. Designed by internationally renowned architects and players Jack Nicklaus, Robert Trent Jones Jr., Arnold Palmer, and Robert Cupp, these links – especially Furry Creek – are as scenic as they are challenging. The strangest hazard? Hungry bears occasionally wander into the fairways.
The spring season kicks off with April’s annual World Ski and Snowboard Festival, which brings an avalanche of performers and visual arts mega-productions to the mountain town. The ongoing event was created 18 years ago in an attempt to give the Whistler area a boost during what was its quietest season. The experiment worked: The partiers are now little more than the first buds of an annual bloom.
More information Tickets and latest info on all the events and parties at the 2013 World Ski and Snowboard Festival are available at wssf.com. For general resort info, activity planning, and accommodation booking, visit whistlerblackcomb.com. [Golf info is available here as well.]