One thing that might surprise some visitors is that Whistler and
Blackcomb both have beginner-friendly areas located quite high
up on the mountains. The Catskinner Chair on Blackcomb is one
example: While the slopes surrounding that lift are easy to ride,
basic skills like turning, stopping and maintaining control are
required to get in and out of the area.
“Beginners can’t just go right to the top of the mountain without
a lesson and hope to point themselves downwards,” cautions
Glaysher. “There’s a big difference between beginner in the
beginner zones and being able to ski at the top of the mountain
on green runs.”
For skiers and riders who have the basic techniques mastered but
are still building their skill sets, here are some ideal intermediate
zones to explore. When visibility is good, Glaysher recommends
Whistler Mountain’s Harmony and Symphony chairs for
intermediate terrain with incredible views all around.
Whistler’s other key intermediate area, which offers great riding
in all weather conditions, is the Emerald Zone. This area offers
mellow slopes located near the Roundhouse Lodge, so it’s easy to
take a break and warm up, grab lunch or find a washroom.
“The Emerald Zone is truly the best intermediate area,” Glaysher
says. “There is a family zone on the Emerald Chair that is meant
to be for people working on improving their skiing.”
On Blackcomb, Glaysher suggests two areas for intermediate
skiers or snowboarders: “Crystal Ridge, with the new Crystal
Chair, is fabulous for intermediate skiers and has long runs — so
make sure you look for a groomed run; it’s super fun. And Seventh
Heaven, of course, is beautiful as well,” Glaysher says.
As Glaysher discussed her picks for the best expert-level riding
zones, she wisely pointed out that in these areas, weather and
snow conditions become major factors to consider, regardless of
how well you can ski or ride. “You have to choose your day, so
you have visibility and cooperative snow. Glacier Express gets you
above the treeline; but if you get up there and it’s foggy, and there
are no trees to give you depth perception, it’s really easy to find
yourself on top of something you don’t want to be on because you
can’t see anything,” Glaysher says.
In these expert-level areas, skiers and riders need to be
comfortable with evaluating snow and weather conditions as they
tackle challenging, natural terrain features.
“There can be difficult entrances [or] large bumps (moguls). There
can be every type of snow condition and visibility. A beautiful
day where you can see everything is completely different than a
fully fogged-out day with cruddy, wind-crusted snow,” explains
With those caveats in mind, here’s where expert-level skiers and
riders can find some thrilling terrain to pump up their adrenalin.
On Whistler, “The front side of the peak has maximum vertical,
with a short lift ride and just no end of steep, amazing skiing,”
Glaysher says. On Blackcomb, “The Couloir is always fabulous,
and the Glacier Express gives you a lot of bang for your buck. You
can get a lot of vertical, and once again, a fast turnaround time.”
Whether you are here to strap on skis or a snowboard for the first
time, or you’re looking to push your steep skiing in the alpine,
Whistler Blackcomb has lots of terrain that anyone can enjoy. It
can take years to master Whistler Blackcomb’s massive trail map,
but thanks to Glaysher’s intimate knowledge of the slopes, you
can beeline it directly to the type of terrain that best suits your
ability level. whistlerblackcomb.com