Mad to Live: 5 Whistler Ways to Feel Alive

Mad to Live: 5 Whistler Ways to Feel Alive

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”  ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

It’s a very famous quote that’s inspired millions of journeys and has probably been used to help justify just as many mistakes but the energy and pacing of those words and the people they describe is unmistakable and resonant. You find a lot of those people in Whistler. People mad to live. People with short-term plans to create life-long memories. People whose average day is full of those Internet meme clichés that scroll through your workday: “My life is your vacation” “Not all those who wander are lost” “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” et cetera et cetera.

It’s only partly true of course, living the dream takes work (or else everyone would do it). These people, the mad ones, will often sacrifice things like career security or proximity to family in order to milk all those extra moments of fabulous, exploding life out of their time on this planet.  But you can do it too, or at least get a taste or that in-the-moment awesomeness that Whistler locals live for. Here are:

5 Whistler Ways to Feel Truly, Madly Alive

1.    Free Fallin’

Big air is always the most effective reminder that you’re alive. While Whistler locals are known for skiing/riding/biking/jumping off cliffs to get the adrenaline pumping the best (and safest) Whistler way to get a little air under your toes is Whistler Bungee. With 50 metres (164 ft) of pure mountain air between the take-off bridge and the beautiful Cheakamus river below, there’s enough time for a life epiphany or two. Get more info here.

2.    Wild Whitewater

Gravity is celebrated as a deity in Whistler and everyone loves water in the summer. So when gravity tugs at the local rivers and makes cold, splashing, glacier-fed rapids it is truly the best of both worlds. Get close and personal (and wet) with a guided rafting trip or power through the rapids on a jet boat tour. Either way time on the river puts a new perspective on things and the sheer natural power of moving water can be transcendent to watch, and ride. Get more info on Rafting or Jet Boating.

3.    All-Day Patio Session

Work hard, play hard, party hard. Whistler is a high-energy place but locals know the importance of balancing all that excitement with some downtime. For some that means spa days or a full shift of book-reading at the beach but there is a certain life-affirming awesomeness to chasing the sun around Whistler Village and bouncing from patio to patio sampling the wares, people-watching and enjoying the mellower side of Whistler life.

4.    Rock On

Climbing cliffs and mountains is hardwired into the human condition – children start to climb almost as soon as they can stand. Rock climbing is an intricate mix of problem solving, athleticism and the calm effects of nature. The smartest way to get into climbing and get up off the ground is to take a guided trip, but the Via Feratta tour is another option that is an easy-to-do blend of climbing, mountaineering and stunning mountaintop views. More info.

5.    Off-Road Buggies

The new summer experience for 2015 is riding these crazy 4×4 UTV off-road vehicles that are easily capable of hitting 70 KM/hour and seem to climb up and over any obstacle. They’re much more intuitive to drive than standard ATVs because the gas-brake-steering is nearly identical to a car. Passengers sit beside the driver, everyone is strapped in, and it kinda-sorta feels like one of those old sit-down arcade video games come to life. More info.

And there you go. Five ways to kick start your heart and get the jump on mad summer fun. Of course the Top of the World bike trail just opened and there are plenty of other ways (and mellower ways) to enjoy Whistler life in the mountains, you can find almost all of them at or get trip suggestions on this custom itineraries page.

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.