Steep and Deep: Mefi Whistler Summit 2007 September 3, 2007 3:52 PM   Subscribe

Now that Labor Day is here, and Summer is on the way out. I thought it might be an auspicious time to discuss the Whistler Mefi ski trip proposed in this thread. The tentative date is for the weekend of December 15-16.
posted by [expletive deleted] to MetaFilter Gatherings at 3:52 PM (35 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

I'm pre-jealous of everyone that attends. Dang ol' baby, making me too poor to go off on ski resort meetups in foreign countries!!!
posted by jonson at 4:36 PM on September 3, 2007

Does Whistler get good early snow? Mid-December seems a little early if everyone wants powder. I haven't been on a snowboard in two seasons but I've always wanted to visit Whistler so I might go.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:10 PM on September 3, 2007

Hmm, SkiFi...
posted by jonmc at 5:36 PM on September 3, 2007

The snow mid December is quite good more often than not. Last year, the snow in December was fantastic, and the mountain and town were deserted. Usually by then the alpine has about the same base as drier continental resorts could expect in February. I picked December because it's a really cheap time of year, and usually as good a bet as any for powder.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 5:46 PM on September 3, 2007

Labor Day is the holiday where the US celebrates its bizarre aversion to the letter "u," right?
posted by Abiezer at 7:27 PM on September 3, 2007

That would be correct. Since I'm Canadian, I was going to spell it Labour, but changed it predicting it would attract snarky comments. I should know better than to try to avoid snark here.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 7:34 PM on September 3, 2007

Weak attempt at comedy, [expletive deleted]. No snark intended!
posted by Abiezer at 7:46 PM on September 3, 2007

Tell me where to sign…
posted by blasdelf at 9:39 PM on September 3, 2007

Ack! Out of town. Bummer.
posted by k8t at 10:26 PM on September 3, 2007

Ooh! Though I can't plan three hours ahead to save my life, count me as tentatively keen. If this winter is half as good as last winter, conditions should be more than fine.
posted by myopicman at 11:59 PM on September 3, 2007

If my ankle is healed by then I'll be up for joining in. Hopefully it's another great early winter of snow.
posted by metaname at 12:16 AM on September 4, 2007

I can almost definitely make it, seeing as it's not even a two hour drive. Might not ski, but we'll see. I have a really good habit of becoming deathly ill on the weekends of planned ski trips.
posted by mek at 12:37 AM on September 4, 2007

Labor Day is the holiday where the US celebrates its bizarre aversion to the letter "u," right?

There's a day in December during which the US will celebrate it's aversion to the letter 'e'.
posted by philomathoholic at 12:37 AM on September 4, 2007

I picked December because it's a really cheap time of year, and usually as good a bet as any for powder.

Not to snow on your parade, [expletive deleted], but there's a reason why its so cheap that time of year. The last time I was at Whistler 2 years back, we got there just in time for their best snow of the season, in early March. The early season had precious little and the base was very weak. You will save money if you go early, but you are gambling with the snow quality/quantity. Its much safer to go in the Jan-Mar time frame, if you can work out ways to afford it (we split a townhouse, for example).

That said, this idea is awesome, and although I'll be stuck on a different continent for this year's ski season, I will definitely help organize the one for the 08-09 season, in Tahoe, where I'm native to.
posted by allkindsoftime at 1:28 AM on September 4, 2007

If by 2 years ago you're referring to the 04/05 season, I believe that was record-breakingly bad, and there wasn't much of a base until very late in the season, you're correct. But not a very good basis for comparison.
posted by mek at 6:44 AM on September 4, 2007

Wow, this is so tempting. I went snowboarding in Whistler in March this year and it was awesomely good. I have my doubts about the snow (here in Europe December is a bit early) but will keep it in mind.
posted by sebas at 7:19 AM on September 4, 2007

I've seen good snow there in December more often than not in the last seven years.

I'm in, providing the SO doesn't object.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:38 AM on September 4, 2007

allkindsofme, I've been skiing Whistler for more than 20 years (since I was 2). I picked December because it's a great time to ski. The crowds have yet to arrive, and it's a good bet for good quality snow. We obviously don't have a large base like in the spring, but Whistler is rarely wanting for a large base.

05/06 saw little snow until January, and 04/05 was the worst season on record. I was in China for the 05/06 season, but the even sparser 04/05 season was pretty decent mid December. For snow quantity, as in accumulated base, March is typically your best bet. For snow quality, December is the best month most years. Whistler typically isn't wanting for a good base, but the snow can be wetter and heavier than other resorts. December is a good time of year for finding powder. Even in 04/05, I was having top to bottom powder runs in December, but that was it for the rest of the year. After December, even when we got snow again in March and April, the dry snow could only be found up top.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 12:18 PM on September 4, 2007

mmm...I've always wanted to board at Whistler. Its about a 10 hour drive for me but that is certainly doable. The lodging has always been the scary expensive factor for me, so if we were to get together on lodging, I think I would be amenable.

I haven't been on a board in 3 years, but our resorts in Oregon usually open by Thanksgiving (US of course) so I could hopefully get a couple runs in before the event and not embarrass myself too terribly.
posted by afflatus at 1:17 PM on September 4, 2007

It's near me - I'd be in.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 12:41 AM on September 5, 2007

me too.
posted by PercussivePaul at 5:06 PM on September 5, 2007

I've also been skiing and teaching skiing at Whistler for 20 years. Snow at Whistler is, in truth, always unpredictable. Trouble is that the average alpine temperature isn't much below zero (Celsius), so we might get a big powder dump one week, then it might melt and re-freeze into ice the next week. If you are obsessed about snow quality then go to the BC Interior or to Colorado. I watch the weather report daily and skip work if the snow is good.

The reason why Whistler is consistently the most popular snow-sports destination in the world is because of the complete package of a) unparalleled Canadian hospitality, b) convenient resort layout, c) top notch apres-ski facilities, d) value for your money. And of course, lots and lots and lots of skiing terrain.

So sure, December would be ok, but honestly you'll have a great time even if the snow is mediocre. April would also be a great option because you can ski the upper half and do all the summer sports in the valley (the ski season often lasts all the way to the end of May). People drive here from as far as Portland every weekend for the mountain biking trails.

I'd be happy to help organize.
posted by randomstriker at 12:59 AM on September 6, 2007

On second thought, let me qualify my comments regarding the snow: it's all relative. Don't misinterpret my lukewarm rating of Whistler snow.

If you're used to rock-hard transparent sheets of ice at Tremblant, QC (aka Le Ice Cube), Whistler is frickin' awesome. If you're used to daily dumps of crisp, dry powder at Fernie, BC (in the middle of nowhere), Whistler is mediocre. In fact, in all my years of ski instruction I haven't heard significant complaints about the snow quality except from locals. And I'm pretty snobbish about the snow (like I said, I skip work to ski if the report is good).

Coverage is always adequate from early December on -- there'll be a bit of dirt and a few bare rocks here or there but you'll be skiing on most of the mountain. Maybe it's not fresh powder everyday but the fact is that most people don't know how to make first tracks without falling face first -- they just like the novelty of it. Runs might be groomed, but that makes for fast GS-style turns (wicked on parabolic skis).
posted by randomstriker at 1:15 AM on September 6, 2007

but the fact is that most people don't know how to make first tracks without falling face first

^^ this is my style.
posted by mek at 6:43 AM on September 6, 2007

Randomstriker, don't you think that modern skis have made skiing heavy west coast snow easier and more enjoyable? I find that with 100+mm underfoot you can just make lazy GS turns in even the nastiest slabby snow. It's just really easy to catch an edge.

Also, while last year was an aberration, I'd have to say that we got our fair share of real dry powder. More often than not, if the snow wasn't perfect, it was because it was windpacked. Hopefully we'll be skiing 5 ft of featherlight snow in Khyber's this November too. That would be just nifty.

And as a final note, I posted this photoset in the last thread. I just wanted to note how fucking fantastic it was to get a 30cm powder day in May. Of course, the snow got pretty wet about where the last shot was taken, but that's partly my point. When the snow is heavy, not too many people bother to hike to where it isn't.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 10:25 AM on September 6, 2007

[e.d.] -- "easier", yes. Enjoyment is subjective. I guess in my book a wide turn is not the same as a GS turn. GS would be turns taken at speed, so that you're banked all the way over, your thighs are constantly burning from resisting the centrifugal force, and you're concentrating hard on maintaining even pressure on your feet so that you're 100% carving and 0% skidding. Oh, the adrenaline!!!

And while you're right in that modern skis make any snow a cinch, I find that bombing down the mountain GS-style isn't as thrilling unless the snow is groomed hardpack or (even better) ice. Soft snow just slows you down too much and you don't accelerate the same way.

Don't get me wrong, I love powder and spring slush. I love bumps. I love tree skiing. I LOVE IT ALL!!!!! Any day where the light isn't totally flat and it's not raining can be a good ski day.

Goddamnit...summer's barely over and suddenly all this ski talk has gotten me thinking about winter again. You guys all gotta come!
posted by randomstriker at 10:53 AM on September 6, 2007

I'm in, pending an estimate of cost (flying from SF + lodging).
posted by pombe at 12:06 PM on September 6, 2007

One lodging option I might suggest (if you're not the Four Seasons type) is the hostel-style UBC ski lodge. It would be fun if we all stayed there and partied it up together.
posted by randomstriker at 12:23 PM on September 6, 2007

yeah, I am probably in. I'll be the guy in the blue MeFi toque.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:35 PM on September 6, 2007

The AMS (UBC) lodge is a great idea for anyone on a tight budget, and always a party.

Randomstriker, do you live in town? I thought I was the only Whistler Mefite.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 1:51 PM on September 6, 2007

[e.d.] -- No, I live in Van. As do several other posters in this thread.

mek -- sadly sometimes that's my style too.
posted by randomstriker at 4:15 PM on September 6, 2007

It's a trek from SC, but I'm all about Whistler. Gonna try to make this.

Save me a stool at Dubh Linn; luurve me some Kilkenny.
posted by LordSludge at 11:46 AM on September 10, 2007

I'm hoping to be there. I'll be borrowing a VW van in Vancouver to drive up, and if I can figure out how, camp. The AMS lodge sounds great, that's a fun place. I'm going to be too much of a cheapskate for anything much beyond that.

Good on you for getting this started, [e.d.].
posted by anthill at 11:39 PM on September 10, 2007

Antill, I would gladly offer you my couch. I assure you it is one of the most eminently surfable quality.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 1:40 AM on September 11, 2007

I will (almost certainly) have room for 4 on my floor in a cabin outside of the Village (Emerald Estates). No charge, if you are ok with a sleeping bag on the floor or, if you're lucky, a couch! Kitchen, fridge, etc - just leave it as you found it! Please email me if you're interested so I can confirm everything - and don't be shy, I'm thrilled to help anyone out who needs it!

And I'll be driving into Whistler (8 person van) in the mornings to ski, fear not.
posted by mek at 2:03 AM on September 11, 2007

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