Report on SKIBACS’ Whistler 2023 Trip

by Dan Harder (Substitute Trip Leader)

Seventeen skiers and snowboarders took part in SKIBAC’s annual Whistler-Blackcomb road trip from Seattle via luxury coach, a great mix of first timers and regulars. There was plenty of space on the bus to make sure everyone could spread out an relax. The driver Robert was super friendly and helpful. Everyone got to meet just about everyone else on the bus while some experienced the fantastic views of Vancouver and Horseshoe Bay for the first time. Brian entertained everyone with endless stories of antics from a career as a Air Force F-4 fighter pilot. Kye quickly noticed my lack of administrative skills and helped out counting heads and making suggestions. After a quick stop for items at the duty free shop and grocery store, we made it to Whistler sometime around 2:30PM. The weather was sunny and actually kind of warm, something close to 50F in the village when we arrived.
Listel Hotel allowed us to check in early (before their normal 4pm check-in) with all rooms pre-assigned, and everything went smoothly, with everyone on the same floor and 5 of seven rooms right next to each other. The hotel was extremely well placed, just a few hundred yards from the lift, and a stone’s throw from bars and restaurants but NOT on the main stroll, providing a bit of distance from any noise. Some folks wandered around a bit before happy hour checking out the village before meeting up at The Brickhouse at 4pm, just a block or two away from the hotel. The social allowed folks to find good ski or snowboard buddies for the next day. I myself was happy there actually was some snowboarders of all ages!
Sunday morning was overcast in the village with good visibility till just below the roundhouse lodge on Whistler, but windy fog-out conditions at the top of the lifts. Most of the crew met up at a reasonable start time, with others wandering up at a more leisurely hour. And then the half our ride up and up and up in the gondola to the top of Whistler mountain builds anticipation as you get higher and higher! At the end of the first run, I wondered at the great luck we were having with no lift lines, until we got to the top of Harmony chair and could barely see the trail markers! Ohh that’s why there wasn’t any line! I think I may have lost one of the first timers on Harmony Ridge run (sorry Chase! :o) Us snowboarders gotta keep speed up on those flat trails! Follow the blue markers! Not to worry we found Chase later still doing laps on Emerald chair 🙂
Starting Monday there were 4 days were full of glorious sunny alpine views and dry packed powder. And in spite of that, lift lines were never more than a few minutes on the busiest chairs. For me this makes for a great time, with no stress rushing to get away from the crowd to the farthest part of the mountain. Whistler is a huge place with plenty of terrain to explore. We each found a good group that was at th same skill and effort level (NOT the same thing!) to make for a fun time, I think eventually loosely splitting into the advanced, the semi-advanced and semi-lazy, and the super lazy 😉
Monday Brad and Scott did the catski, and came back telling stories of sparkling snow glittering in the sun as they flow down untracked slopes, and jumped off cornices! Most of the rest of us worked Blackcomb mountain on Monday.
The next couple days are a bit of a blur.. Roll out of bed, get some breakfast, mosey to the gondola sometime between 9 and 10.. Most days folks would meet in the lobby in the morning, then we would meet up at noon at one of the the lodges on the mountain for lunch, and then again for Apres in the village. My favorite place was Dublin Gate, with great live music early and late. Then nap, then dinner.. repeat! Some folks took advantage of the hiking trails around the area. Ken, Kye and I ran the little slalom course a few times one day.. Oh and then there was the time we tried a “different” way down and ended up skirting the outside fence of the big slalom course oops!
Thursday morning it was time for Baileys’ waffles at the top of Crystal Chair on Blackcomb for breakfast! And then dinner group dinner at 21 Steps.. A great time to share stories and eat prime rib!
And then there was FRIDAY. Friday was Fantastic. Mostly I remember two things about Friday – I could not walk very well when I got off the mountain just due to weak legs :o, and then dancing at Buffalo Bills! Classic. First Kenta took a few of us out to Harajuku Izakaya which was amazing and Kenta explained all the dishes. Then we had the leftover beverage bash at Kenta and John’s room. Then John, Brad, Ken, Kenta, Kye, Shane, Antonio and? went to Moe’s for pool and then we hit the dance floor. I left and midnight but retiree John and Kenta closed it down! Whew a perfect way to end the trip. And finally we made our way home Saturday with no issues, smooth riding with a bit of traffic in Vancouver. On the bus we watched Brian’s recommended black and white John Wayne WWII airplane film – Island in the Sky. The perfect ending to a great trip.
A great time was had by all, and highly recommend doing it again!