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Whistler, Canada

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Re-named Whistler Mountain in 1965 (after the cry of the ubiquitous western hoary marmot, or Whistle Pig) the pleasantly car-free village centre was purpose-built, quite attractively, on the site of an old garbage tip, a favourite haunt of bears. It is now an attractive but sprawling village, dominated in the Upper Village by the imposing neo-gothic structure of the splendid Fairmont Chateau Whistler hotel, and some truly terrific skiing on Whistler and Blackcomb mountains which have the largest vertical drop in North America: both are about a mile high. Vancouver, the gateway city, is one of the most beautiful in the world. Then comes the two hour "Sea-to-Sky Highway" (99 North) drive, the early stages along the magnificent Strait of Georgia coastline, with misty views of Vancouver Island. One of Whistler's few snags is its low elevation. At 675 metres (2,214 feet), close to the maritime influence of the Pacific seaboard, it tends to attract more than its fair share of rain. Although this nearly always results in fresh snowfalls higher up the mountain, the prospect of going out in the rain to start a day's skiing puts a slight dampener on things. But keen skiers and boarders will hardly give it a moment's thought. Superficially, the two mountains are quite similar. Each has more than 100 trails, many of them long cruising runs through pine forests. But Whistler has more bowls (Symphony, Glacier, Whistler, Harmony and West Bowls) while Blackcomb has glaciers: Blackcomb and Horstman. It also has more couloirs, such as Couloir Extreme and Pakalolo.

Written by  Arnie Wilson.

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