Whistler’s Autumn Ways to the Top
Updated September 2017 with some new ways to get to the top. Enjoy!
It’s never too late to touch the sky, or last season’s snow.
As winter approaches, Whistler Blackcomb start to shut the ski lifts and the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola to run maintenance and prepare for the upcoming winter (check out the latest hours of operation here). This suddenly makes it a lot tougher to get up to the tops of the mountains and enjoy our awesome Coast Mountain scenery.
Tougher, but not impossible. Read on for our favourite ways to get up the mountains in autumn…
Drive a Jeep, ATV or UTV
“We operate until the snow comes and pushes back down the mountain,” says Craig Beattie of Canadian Wilderness Adventures. “If you wanna get up the hill our Jeeps go all the way to the top of Blackcomb. You get way up, high enough to touch snow.”
The 4×4 Jeeps and their new Sprinter Vans are warm, rugged, and a perfect all-weather option but Canadian Wilderness also runs ATV tours for people who want to channel their inner kid and get a bit of mud flying. “We have full rain gear for anyone,” Craig adds “so it’s actually good clean fun.” Also running are Side x Side or UTV tours which operate rain or shine. A little larger than ATVs, these off road buggies are driven like a car and turn rough terrain into tons of fun.
Once the lifts stop running a four-wheel tour is the only way to access the ski hill until winter begins but adventurous snow seekers can lace up the hiking boots and for a trek into mountains equally magnificent, with the mountains around Whistler offering plenty of high alpine hikes.
Be wary, the snow and cold weather can roll in with a moment’s notice this time of year, and the mountains can get dangerous fast. It’s recommended people make sure they are packed as if they may have to spend a night out in the wild, even if they are just planning on a day trip. Taking a guide or tour is always a good way to get a group together for extra safety and local knowledge.
The new Lord of the Squirrels biking trail takes riders on a long day ride up into the alpine on Sproatt Mountain, offering stunning views of the valley below. Like all high elevation trails, it’s going to see snow first so be sure to keep an eye on the weather and plan for a dry day. Once the rain/snow starts it’s best to leave this trail alone to prevent wet weather damage – it’s still be there next year after all. This is a backcountry biking experience, so again riders need to be prepared with fitness, food, water and clothes for changing weather.
The e-bike tour from Canadian Wilderness Adventures also gets you up high – check out the details of that tour here.
The other option, the easiest, is to simply book a floatplane or helicopter tour. The Whistler peaks and backcountry look incredible from the air but the helicopters can only fly when cloud coverage permits good visibility and the floatplanes won’t run when ice hits the lake. And if you are ok with staying at mid-to low elevations, a day out ziplining might just get you your mountain fix.