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Whistler, British Columbia, Canada, April 2007

Back-country skiing. Virgin ski slope in the back-ground, our target.

At 14.00 h the hill in the far distance still had only one main ski mark down. Our mark.

Our ski marks. Ian and Garry with the narrow turns (left0, mine the wider (right). 40 cm of fresh snow. Photo by Gary.

Driving from Vancouver to Whistler

Whistler is about 160 km North of Vancouver, less then 2 hours by car. The current two-lane highway is a scenic but winding coastal road for the first 100 km [also see the view from the Chief's Rock near Squamish]. It is being upgraded to three and four lanes for the 2010 winter Olympic Games. Operations of the scenic passenger train has recently been discontinued and now you can only take the bus, leaving from downtown Vancouver or the airport..

After some 80 km just, before the town of Squamish, at Britannia Beach, you pass the British Columbia Museum of Mining which used to be an copper ore processing plant. It is built on the face of a steep hill and has several stories.

British Columbia Museum of Mining, South of Squamish

After 67 km, at the end of the coastal road, you pass the town of Squamish, dominated by a large granite dome. It has a near vertical rock face of 600 m, a rock climbers paradise. [See the hike to the top]

The Chief's Rock. View South from Squamish

Past Whistler, some 30 km North, is the hidden Pembroke Valley, well known for farming. It elevation is only 210 m and it is surrounded by up to 2000 to 2500 m high mountains, a surprising scenery resembling a green equivalent of Death Valley [Sierra Nevada/DeathValley, winter 2002/2003].

Farmland in the Pembroke Valley. Elevation 210 m, mountains up to 2000 or 2500 m.

Richard, a friend from a trip to Nepal in 1997 [Ian's 1997 Nepal pictures] inherited a farm here which used to belong to his parents.

Richard's Farm House in the Pembroke Valley.


The town of Whistler [1] [2] resembles a combination of Lake Tahoe, with broad American Highways and shopping malls, and a French Alpine village, with the restaurants, bars and shops in a pedestrian only area.

The large pedestrian area down-town has excellent ski and fashion shops, and several bars and restaurants with outside terraces. The most important item I bought was a helmet. In Whistler over 30% of the skiers now wear helmets. Now you can go faster, accordng to Ian.

Whistler is famous for both powder skiing and mountain biking.

Powder skiing by helicopter is best known but extremely costly. One week will reduce your savings by $10,000, not counting travelling to and accommodation in Whistler. But, when you are a single, reasonably sporty lady and want to meet a rich marriage candidate, this would be a good investment. The ski guides we talked to keep track of them and they seem to have variable success. Common men like us are degraded to the much cheaper Snow Cat powder skiing. These are normally used for shoveling and flattening snow on the ski runs.

The bike parks for down hill biking are said to be unique in North America.

Ian's house

Ian has a house in Whistler which he designed and built some 20 years ago.

Ian's House in Whistler

His neighbour has a Swiss style Chalet

Swiss Style Chalet, Ian's neighbour.


Ian in the woods, one of his favourite rest places

Tuesday till Friday were dominated by rain in the valley and snow or fog on the ski trails high up in the mountains. With good snow goggles and a helmet, skiing was doable but you had to pay attention. At the rare moments when the sun came out, you felt going down fast. Skiing is so easy, once you have good visibility. Especially the mist was a hindrance. [1] [2]

Back country skiing.

On Saturday it finally cleared up. We were ready for and very keen to do serious back-country (off-piste) skiing. The ultimate goal was to make the first turns on virgin slopes.

Garry joined us on Saturday. He is a very experienced skier. After a few normal runs and off-piste runs [1], we finally went into the back country area.

Posing on a run.

Back-country skiing. Virgin ski slope in the back-ground, our target.

It tooks us some 30 minutes to reach the virgin ski slope. Here we had to walk up, wearing warm ski clothes on a steep hill and carrying some 10 kmof skis, a heavy breathing and sweaty experience.

Walking up the slope. Photo by Gary.

Walking up the mountain. Photo by Gary.

Reaching the top of the mountain, note the corniches (overhanging snow ridges).

After reaching the top we looked for a descent spot to go down. The ridge had lots of corniches, partially consisting of solid ice. Broken off pieces of ice carry a risk when you hit down in the deep snow.

The slope down looked very steep but was probably only 30 degrees. There was, however, a risk for avalanches given the 40 cm of fresh snow on hard snow and the sudden warm weather.

Garry went down first, Ian second and I followed hesitating. Turned out to be relatively easy, ski points up, and slowy slalomming through the deep snow, as if it is water.

Ski marks. Photo by Gary.

Ski marks. Photo by Gary.

Posing, hill with ski marks in the back ground. Marks on the right. Photo by Gary.

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