"We only have one ski day left. Should we give Blackcomb a go then?"
I was riding up the Whistler gondola one Saturday morning last ski season with a group of "gents" from the U.K. when one of them asked me that question. I have to admit I almost felt sorry for them at the time. (I say almost because it was hard to feel sorry for people who had just spent the past week skiing one of the best mountains in the world.)
You see, they had been on their ski vacation in Whistler for six days at that point, and had skied/snowboarded Whistler Mountain every one of those days. They told me that they'd had a phenomenal time, but I just couldn't help feeling like they were missing out.
Me, being the curious guy that I am, wanted to know why. They told me that they had just assumed that Whistler was the better mountain and that they had not wanted to waste one of their days on "the other mountain".
After a quick sales pitch on my behalf, I convinced them that they had to spend their last day on there. I hope for their sake that they did.
Nonetheless, that experience got me thinking.
"I wonder how many other people visit Whistler, assume that Whistler is the superior mountain, and never even venture over to the other mountain". Do other folks make the wrong assumption that they are similar mountains and don't see the point in skiing both?"
Well, it's time to set the record straight, and put those false assumptions to rest. So without further adieu...
The history of Blackcomb Mountain as a ski resort is indeed an interesting one. Conceived in 1978 and opened in 1980, the mountain has evolved over the years to become one of North America's, if not the world's, leading ski mountains and resorts.
Indeed, it's hard to believe that just over 20 years ago (in 1986) this mountain had to rescued from the brink of bankruptcy.
In fact, it could be argued that the "redevelopment" of Blackcomb as a ski mountain and resort beginning in 1986, changed forever the way that ski mountains (and for that matter golf courses) would operate.
Build an exceptional recreational facility (in this case a world class ski mountain), then develop the property around it and sell off the real estate. This is standard practice nowadays, but in 1986 this was considered revolutionary.
Aside: Ask yourself this. How many golf courses are developed today that do not incorporate the sale of the real estate around it as part of the business plan? I'd be shocked if there were any.
A big part of the coming of age for Blackcomb in the late 80's was the construction of the Chateau Whistler in 1989 at the base of the mountain by Canadian Pacific Hotels. This resort style hotel was (and still is) a destination in itself. People could now come and stay right at the base (in luxury no less), a mere 50 steps from the lifts.
Fast forward almost 20 years to 2008 and your choices of lodging at Blackcomb have grown considerably.
Want a ski-in ski-out condo? The Benchlands on Blackcomb is where you want to be.
Want the ultimate in 5 star luxury?
The Four Seasons Resort and Residences, built a few years ago just down the road from the Whistler Chateau, will suit your needs.
Looking for some great restaurants and apres ski?
Again, there is no need to venture too far.
Even the original "codename" for the latest version of Microsoft Windows bore the name of this great mountain!.
So let's recap. Great hotels, ski-in ski-out condos, restaurants and bars and the codename for the latest version of Windows. Did I miss anything?
How about the mountain itself...
In a word. Amazing.
And there is something for every type of skier and snowboarder. (In fact many snowboarders much prefer it over Whistler Mountain).
Runs that get your heart racing like the Couloir Extreme, or one of the double black diamonds accessed by Spanky's Ladder.
Superb alpine skiing off of the Seventh Heaven Lift.
Great fall line cruisers where you can let your skis run or carve your board for what seems like forever before you hit the bottom of the lift again.
And plenty of gentle groomed easy intermediates for beginners and young kids.
All in all, I'd say that Blackcomb is worth the effort.