The Insider’s Guide to Whistler Spring Skiing

A snowboarder poses in the sunshine with the mountains in the background.

The Insider’s Guide to Whistler Spring Skiing

Updated December 2019

With over a mile of vertical and 7500 acres of open, skiable terrain Whistler offers some of the best spring skiing in North America (not to mention probably THE best après.) March is a historically snowy month for Whistler so you’ve got the paradoxical combination of long-sunny days with the potential of fresh powder.

It’s also a good time to snag a deal on accommodation, and with less crowds and soft snow, people in the know hit the slopes in the spring. Here are a few tried and tested tips gleaned from years of local experience to make your spring days in Whistler really, well, springy. Check ’em out:

1. Crack-of-Noon Club

Sunny groomers in the alpine

Enjoying the groomers on a sunny winter day. MIKE CRANE PHOTO

One of the best things about spring skiing is you can sleep in and not feel guilty. We talked to ex-ski patrol and avalanche forecaster Joe Lammers about the “freeze/melt cycle” but basically on your average spring day the snow will be fast and hard until the sun hits it long enough to soften things up. This means there’s nothing wrong with sleeping in and uploading just in time for the fresh “corn” at noon.  But be wary! With such big mountains it will often snow up in the alpine and you can have real pow and spring corn in the same day. It’s worth it to nominate someone to set an alarm and check the early snow report just in case.

2. Mountain Picnics

Spring skiing and apres in Whistler

Spring skiing and on-mountain apres at the Umbrella Bar on Whistler Mountain. PHOTO JUSTA JESKOVA

The sunny days of spring are really best enjoyed outdoors so it makes sense to hit the patio of the on-mountain restaurants, but this time of year can also be seen as an excuse to pack a bag lunch and bask on a warm rock somewhere scenic. Bonus points if you have a 70’s-style wineskin (full of water of course… staying hydrated is important in the warmer spring months).

3. Dress for Success

Black and white image of three male skiers in the mountains in sweaters, socks, and sunglasses.

Not much insulation going on back in the day. George Bury Collection – Ski touring in Garibaldi Provincial Park in 1939. PHOTO WHISTLER MUSEUM

More than ever, spring is about proper layering. Go for light pants if possible, you can ski harder to fend off the morning chills of those first few runs. Conversely wearing a too-insulated jacket can turn your afternoon runs into an unzipped alpine sauna. Yuck. A shell outer layer is best then you shed your warm layer as the day progresses. A small backpack is great for this (also for holding the lunch and wineskin).

4. Protection

A snowboarder poses in the sunshine with the mountains in the background.

Goggle protection. PHOTO MIKE CRANE

Sunscreen sunscreen sunscreen. The snow reflects about 80% of the sun’s UV rays right back up at you so don’t forget to screen the underside of your nose and chin. Reapply sunscreen at least once as the day progresses and if anyone has any of that old zinc-oxide kicking around from the 1980s, rock it with pride.

Also: sunglasses, or goggles if you are the “hey check out my sick goggle tan” sort. That same bouncing  UV radiation can cause photokeratitus (aka snowblindness) if you don’t have proper eyewear. Snowblindness is essentially a sunburn on the cornea of your eye and is about as painful as that sounds.

5. Stay on Point: Watch Terrain and Weather

Black and white image of female skier in a bikini on the snow.

Ouch. Jane Ferris from the Whistler Mountain Ski Corporation Collection circa 1970s. PHOTO WHISTLER MUSEUM

Know the mountain, what aspects get the sun first and will therefore soften up first? Also, where are the cornices? Has any debris chunks (aka “Death Cookies”) broken off and rolled into your run? Stay on point. Also, watching the local weather is important because even on a nice day, spring squalls can blow into the mountains pretty quickly. And that will suck if you are riding in your bikini.

6. Après-Ski

A couple enjoy apres in Whistler on a sunny bar patio.

Cheers to sunshine, patios and good friends. PHOTO JUSTA JESKOVA

When the sun hits the snow you can bet it’s also bathing Whistler’s patios in sunlight as well (Fun fact: the Village was laid out specifically to maximise sunshine on the outdoor seating areas). So make sure you replenish your vitamin D and re-hydrate at one of Whistler’s après-ski spots where the spring vibe is strong. Check out our Guide to Spring Après for a more in-depth look at the good times.

The key to a great ski day is to celebrate it, and if you happen to end up singing and dancing in your ski boots that’s not the worst way to end a day now, is it?

Bonus – Slush Cup! 

Slush Cup on Blackcomb mountain during WSSF

The Slush Cup during the World Ski and Snowboard Festival. PHOTO JUSTA JESKOVA

You haven’t lived until you’ve donned a wild costume and hurled yourself off a jump at a freezing slushy pool of good times amidst inflatable float-toy obstacles and an energetic crowd rabid for mayhem. This is just one of the events that brings the party-vibe to the spring at the World Ski and Snowboard Festival. But don’t be shy – Whistler’s costume culture is a year-round affair so don your onesie and 80s garb any day you fancy.

Spring is about having fun so enjoy the mountains and don’t be afraid to try any of the other great spring activities Whistler has to offer. Sun’s out, fun’s out.

Feet Banks

Feet Banks

Feet Banks moved to Whistler at age 12 so his parents could live the dream and ski as much as possible. He ended up living it too. After leaving home Feet did a few good stints in warmer climates and 4 years of writing school before returning to the mountains to make ski movies, hammer out a journalism career and avoid the 9-5 lifestyle as long as possible. He’s been a hay farmer, a hole digger, a magazine editor and has a jump named after him on Blackcomb Mountain, Feet’s Air. It’s tiny.

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