Planning a trip to this western Canadian Alpine resort? Check out these activities. Only three require you to be on skis or a snowboard, the rest are available to anyone.
1. Fresh Tracks breakfast. Get this: For a mere $17.25 per adult, $12.60 ages 7-12 Canadian (think about 20 percent discount off U.S. dollars), skiers and riders can board the Whistler gondola as early as 7:30 a.m., chow a full hot breakfast at the Roundhouse on-mountain restaurant, and then, when patrol rings the bell, carve first tracks on the upper mountain for about 45 minutes, before the hordes from below begin to arrive. Do make reservations; despite a seemingly indulgent limit of 650, it does sell out, especially on powder days.
2. Ski or board the Peak to Creek and Dave Murray on Whistler: Burn the quads and savor the spectacular views on the 3.4-mile Peak to Creek, a bluesy cruise wrapping around Whistler’s periphery, from its peak to its Creekside base. For ultimate bragging rights at the water cooler during the 2010 Olympics (“You see where Bode went wild off that lip? Yeah, I caught some big air there, too…”), ski the Dave Murray Downhill trail. Not up for the challenge, mosey along the Pony Trail and Bear Cub, two greens that shadow it and provide a few peeks.
3. Take a glide on the Sno Limo: Not a skier? Not a problem. The Sno Limo lets anyone experience the sensation of skiing. It’s especially popular among parents and grandparents who have never seen their children or grandchildren carve turns or slide rails. It’s skiing without the work, the expense of equipment, or the pain of learning. Just sit down, and let the snow limo guide slalom you down the slopes.
4. Ride the Peak 2 Peak gondola: Float with the birds amongst the clouds on the world’s longest unsupported span for a lift of its kind (2.73 miles between supporting pillars on either side — that’s longer than the Golden Gate Bridge). Aim for a bluebird day for the best views. It there’s no line, ask the attendant if you can wait for one of the two gondy cars with a glass panel in the floor to better view the valley, 1,427 feet below. (Scared of heights? Skip this)
5. Splurge on a waffle at the Crystal Hut: The ultimate sugar buzz, a Belgian waffle covered with berries and chocolate chips and, oh yes, whipped cream. Can you say to die for? (not accessible to nonskier/riders)
6. Schuss Blackcomb Glacier: Drop into the Blow Hole, find a powder line in the bowls, or follow the blue Blackcomb Glacier highway.
7. Après ski at Dusty’s: Everyone goes to Dusty’s, which will be action central during the Olympics. It’s located at the end of the Dave Murray Downhill trail. Wash down Whistler’s best nachos with a Kokanee ale.
8. Visit the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Center: Long, long before skiers held these peaks sacred, the First Nations people revered them. The new cultural center invites visitors into the lives of the Squamish and Lil’wat tribes, introducing them to their culture, activities, families, and their relationship with the land, lakes, rivers, and mountains. It’s a five-minute walk at most from the base of Blackcomb’s lifts: Here’s a hint, go for lunch. Both the salmon chowder and the smoked salmon panini are worth the hoof in ski boots.
9. Zip Trek Eco Tour: Play Flying Wallenda, whizzing from treetop to treetop on ziplines suspended across frozen Fitzsimmons Creek in the Coastal Rain Forest between Blackomb and Whistler peaks. A three-hour guided zipline tour is $79 to $119 Cdn.
10. Fairmont Chalet: No, no, not the Chateau (although the Wine Room there’s pretty rippin’, too), but the Chalet, where the Fairmont Chateau Whistler serves high tea every afternoon coupled with sleigh rides. In the evening, the British tea experience morphs into an Alpine fondue feed; a cheesy experience that also can be enhanced with jingle bells.