First Time Skiing Whistler: Big Bro Takes on Big Mountains

This is Big Bro’s 3rd season skiing. We spent the first two seasons on our local mountains, and we saw some dramatic improvements from not willing to take more than a few steps to linking turns.

With him turning 5 and starting kindergarten this year, we took advantage of the free Epic Schoolkids pass. This is a free 5-day skiing pass (with peak date restrictions) for kids in kindergarten to grade 5. I got an adult 5-day edge card to match him, which has the same restricted dates.

It turned out that skiing in Whistler is free for kids 6 and under anyway, so when we picked up our ski passes from guest services, we snatched a free season pass for Middle Bro too.

We booked a 2-night stay at an Airbnb, and we took a leisurely drive up the Sea to Sky highway on the first day. By the time we got to Whistler, it was 3pm. We stopped at Creekside for its free parking and picked up our passes from the completely empty Guest Services Centre.

Sea to Sky Highway

The next day, we hatched the following game plan: I would first take Middle Bro up to the beginner-friendly Olympic Mid Station area on Whistler Mountain and ski with him until he is tired, then come down to swap him out with Big Bro for the rest of the afternoon. I was positive that it would be a chaotic disaster if I tried to take them both by myself.

Skier bros getting ready

I’ve always overlooked the Mid Station beginner area since I usually head up to Roundhouse to start my day. But with Middle Bro in tow, I got a chance to take a good look at this area.

And it’s the best beginner skiing area I’ve ever seen!

Olympic Mid Station learning area

It has not one, not two, but 5 magic carpets (yes, more than even what their own trail map shows), so the learners are widely spread out.

It also has a beginner-friendly Olympic Chair, which takes us to the top of the learning area for a solid practice run. The runs are very wide and well maintained, with varied slope steepness.

Olympic Chair

Being half way up the mountain, the views were amazing too.

Middle Bro started skiing a full year younger than Big Bro, partly due to his higher tolerance for falling down, and partly due to him doing his darn hardest to catch up to Big Bro. But because Big Bro had been advancing so well, I have to be cognizant about not leaving Middle Bro behind.

After a few runs on the magic carpet, I took out our old tether and ski clamps so I can start teaching Middle Bro pizza-ing.

One major downside with teaching kids skiing in the Mid Station area is that anyone who wants to watch the kids ski would need to buy a gondola ticket to get here. As a result, Tina acted as our mobile base of operations at the village and didn’t get to see the kids skiing this trip.

After about 1 hour of skiing and one partial run off the Olympic Chair, Middle Bro called it quits. We took the gondola back down to the village and switched him out with Big Bro who had been exploring the village with mom and patiently waiting his turn.

Downloading after some solid skiing

We came to the Olympic learning area again to warm up, and went all the way down to the village on the green Lower Olympic run. The runs outside the learning area were noticeably busier, but Big Bro had no trouble making his S turns without assistance. Even icier patches near the base were no challenge to him.

About 1.5 hour of skiing later, after two runs off the Olympic Mid Station, Big Bro also called it quits, so I had the pleasure of skiing several runs on the fantastic clear day.

After dinner in the village, we grabbed some front-row spots at the Fire and Ice show and watched 10 amazing skiers and snowboarders jump through a ring of fire, followed by a brief fireworks show. This runs every Sunday night at 7pm, but we learned from the info booth attendants to arrive by 6:30pm to watch them warm up and beat the crowd.

The last day of our weekend at Whistler was a game-time decision. Middle Bro was fairly pooped out, but Big Bro woke up re-energized and ready to ski again. So up we went, this time to Roundhouse!

It took us about 50 mins to get down to the village again, which was by far the longest run Big Bro had ever skied. The benefit of taking the gondola back up vs. chair lift is a good 20 min break in a sheltered warmth where we can take our skis and gloves off and enjoy some snacks.

For the second run, instead of going on the easier Upper Whiskey Jack run on the left of Roundhouse, Big Bro wanted to take the challenge and hop off the steeper Pony Trail on the right.

The bluish-green run on Pony Trail. Roundhouse in the back.

He did very well on this bluish-green section, but he was getting a bit tired. We found our way to the Tree Fort for another break. The Tree Fort is a cute little wooden structure with slides, tucked in the woods between Pony Trail and Bear Cub runs, accessible from either one.

The brief playground recharge perked up Big Bro enough and we got another great run down to the village.

Skiing through fog

After double and triple checking, he still wanted to keep going. We headed back up on the gondola and took the Peak to Peak gondola to explore a whole new mountain.

Even after a combined 40 min gondola ride, Big Bro was still pretty tired. So I whipped out my last secret weapon: pre-made hot chocolate in the Rendezvous building! It was highly effective. The lunch time crowds had already dissipated by the time we got there around 2:40, so we had no trouble finding a table.

Rendezvous House on Blackcomb Mtn.

We took a nice and relaxed 30 min break before I did a final check. We still had the chance of taking Blackcomb Gondola down, but we would have to walk a fair bit to get back to the village. Or, we finish the day with an epic last run.

“Epic last run!” Big Bro chose well.

We went off with a bang, going down blue runs with no green options for quite a while. I was also busy checking the trail map to make sure we end up in the village instead of Blackcomb Base. With Big Bro running on fumes, I grabbed him for support for the steeper blue runs but otherwise he did a fantastic job with the blue runs, making good half circle turns to control his speed and maintaining excellent balance through little humps in the snow.

Finally, just before 4pm, we successfully skied down to the village. Big Bro’s legs had turned into noodles by that point but he was still laughing and having fun.

It’s a resounding success for our first outing to Whistler. The world-class resort proved to be a great choice for beginners, especially if you grab the heavily discounted early bird passes and free ticket options for kids.

Price for a regular lift ticket is steep though, and the 2-hour drive to and from Vancouver can be quite the commitment for day-tripping. On the other hand, lodging cost can be quite exorbitant too, so Whistler will likely remain a luxury outing and our local mountains can stay our ski workout gyms.

It’ll be your turn next year, Little Bro!

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