TRAVELLER I LOCAL VIBE
North America’s top four-season resort just keeps getting
better. Two new attractions will open this summer atop the
Peak Chair on Whistler Mountain: The Peak Suspension
Bridge and a new, cantilevered viewing platform at Whistler
Peak’s West Ridge. The Peak Suspension Bridge, part of
Whistler Blackcomb’s “Renaissance Plan” for on-mountain
improvements, will be 130 metres (425 feet) long, stretching
from the Peak Chair offload area to the new West Ridge
viewing platform, and will afford guests a 360-degree view
of Black Tusk, Garibaldi Lake and the breathtaking Coast
Mountains. Being on the suspension bridge “will be a bit of a
landing pad,” said Jennifer Smith, WB senior communications
specialist. “We’ll string the different cables using a basket,
sort of like a shopping cart. Once completed, it will hang and
will have that feeling of being suspended.” The second part of
a two-phase expansion of the renowned Whistler Mountain
Bike Park, with a total of 21 kilometres of new trails and the
opening of the new Creekside base area, is set to open this
summer as well.
Other on-mountain upgrades have been occurring on both
Whistler and Blackcomb. Another major project is a $66 million
suite lift upgrade, including the addition of a new 10-passenger
Blackcomb Gondola and replacement of the three-passenger
Catskinner chair with a high-speed quad on Blackcomb.
The project will also include the replacement of the Emerald
Express quad on Whistler Mountain with a six-passenger,
high-speed lift. The three new lifts are expected to be in
service for the start of the 2018-’ 19 ski season, Smith said.
The Blackcomb Gondola project is likely to cause only minor
changes to facilities and events in the Upper Village/Blackcomb
base area. Once open, the Blackcomb Gondola (which will
replace the Wizard and Solar Coaster lifts) will form the world’s
first continuous, three-gondola lift system in the world — the
others being the Peak 2 Peak and Whistler Mountain gondolas.
For details, visit whistlerblackcomb.com.
The past few years have seen a huge increase in the
popularity of hiking and backcountry skiing. In an age when
people are more plugged-in than ever before, there is an
increasing desire to be disconnected from devices and more
connected with nature, said Jayson Faulkner, media liason
for a project that aims to help more people make an authentic
connection with Whistler’s backcountry. The Spearhead
Traverse, a popular hiking and backcountry skiing route in
Garibaldi Provincial Park, is undergoing a construction boom of
sorts. Last summer, snow clearing and building for the first of
three planned backcountry huts — the first at Russet Lake —
got underway, and it’s expected to be substantially complete in
time for the 2018-’ 19 ski season.
Once completed, the Kees and Claire Hut — named for
Cornelius (Kees) Brenninkmeyer and Claire Dixon, who
perished when their snow shelter collapsed during a
backcountry ski outing in 2007 — will have space for 40
backcountry enthusiasts. A project of the non-profit Spearhead
Huts Society, it’s being built through donations from a variety
of sources including the U.S.-based Kees Brenninkmeyer
Foundation, which donated $900,000 Cdn. The Kees and
Claire Hut is being built with Passive House techniques, which
is more expensive to build but, because of its high insulation
ratings, much less expensive to operate.
Planning is underway for the second of the three Spearhead
huts: Mount Macbeth. Construction on the hut, which is to be
built entirely through a $1.5 million donation from Brian and
Andrea Hill of the women’s clothing retailer Aritzia, is expected
to begin in summer 2019. Fundraising is ongoing for the
third Spearhead hut at Mount Pattison. B.C. Parks has been
extremely supportive, committing money to improved camping
facilities and more rangers in Garibaldi Park and elsewhere.
“They recognize it’s a huge addition to Garibaldi Park and they
realize they need to step up from their side of it on trails and
infrastructure,” said Faulkner. The society is always looking for
volunteers, both skilled and unskilled, to help with construction.
For information, visit spearheadhuts.org.
STORIES BY DAVID BURKE
IMAGE COURTESY W/B
KEES AND CLAIRE HUT / IMAGE COURTESY SPEARHEAD HUT PROJECT