Let’s get one thing straight: I am extreme. I am supreme extreme. I rip around in 34-year-old rear-entry boots* and can jump turn down the steepest and deepest slopes Whistler has to offer.
But not this year. This year I am coming off two broken ankles and after 11 months of hobbling around and missing out on all the fun, the day finally came where I was cleared to ski. “But take it easy,” my surgeon said.
Taking it easy is easier said than done when you’ve grown up on North America’s greatest slopes so to ensure I didn’t overdo it I committed to skiing day one with my 7 year old, my wife and her good friend from Winnipeg who hadn’t skied in 10 years for a beautiful sunny day of green ski runs.
Turns out that a full 35% of the 200+ runs (and 7000 acres) of Whistler Blackcomb are marked green for beginners (check out the trail map here). Welcome to the slow zone, be sure to check the daily grooming reports but here are some of the best mellowest trails in Whistler:
They call Blackcomb “the dark side” but it gets more sun than Whistler Mountain so that doesn’t make a lot of sense. As such, it also has some nice sunny green runs.
From the top: The Expressway traverse from the Rendezvous to the bottom of the 7th Heaven Express is as mellow as they come (you might have to tow/push little kids on soft days) and from the top of Blackcomb your best option is to drop back down the front side of 7th Heaven and take Green Line back to the Rendezvous. This way you get the big mountain views without the steep and deep exit lines.
Mid-Mountain: The top of the Crystal Ridge Express is not really mid-mountain (it’s at treeline) but if you get there, Crystal Road is the only green option down, it meets up with lower Green Line which is smooth sailing all the way to the Village. (If you feel a bit bolder next time you are up Crystal Ridge take Ridge Runner, it’s blue but you can do it!!)
Another great mid-mountain green option is Easy Out, accessed off the Expressway trail to 7th Heaven. This one is fun because it has a bit more fall line (but not too much) and links up with the Big Easy Terrain Park which is full of super fun mellow jumps and features for little kids or those just getting a feel for the air.
Lower Mountain: It’s all about the Yellow Brick Road, conveniently located under the Magic Chair so you can session Green laps all day long. Even more convenient– Merlin’s Bar & Grill is literally right at the bottom so no matter how your day is going, après is just steps away. This is the go-to place for learning (and if you take a ski lesson you will learn way faster!)
The original ski hill in town, Whistler has more green run options than her sister across the valley, and more green variety.
From the top: Burnt Stew Trail has got to be the most beautiful green run in the country. From Whistler Peak (get that obligatory Inukshuk pic with Black Tusk mountain in the back) head down the cat road to the top of the Harmony 6 Express and onto Burnt Stew Trail to enjoy mellow terrain in a true alpine environment. Glaciers, open bowls and big peaks give way to a mellow road back to the Harmony Express, or straight to the Village via Sidewinder and Upper and lower Olympic Run.
Mid-Mountain: It’s all about the Emerald Express, which is literally surrounded by green classics like Ego Bowl, the as-peaceful as it sounds Green Acres, Upper and Lower Whiskey Jack and Marmot which gives you the option of heading up the Harmony Chair, or sidewinding back to the Emerald.
On the Big Red Express side, Papoose and Bear Cub are good times but it’s really all about the Pony Trail, the oldest run on Whistler and named because it was the route packhorses would use to ascend the mountain during construction in 1965. It’s mellow but there’s one perfect pitch near the end that can make a hero out of anyone.
Lower Mountain: There’s no super easy way to get to Whistler Creekside so if you end up on that side of the mountain just take Expressway back over to the Village side and link up with Lower Olympic Run. Coming from Harmony and Emerald chairs, there can be great snow left on Upper Fantastic and It Happens, even later in the day.
And that’s that. And if things are feeling good don’t be afraid to drop into a mellower Blue run either. The Saddle on Whistler is an absolute classic right down the guts of Glacier Bowl. The entrance can be a bit steep sometimes so if that looks too ambitious hit up T-Bar run instead. And on Blackcomb if you can get out into the Blackcomb Glacier it’s like being in another world. Most important is to have fun, and if you want to sound legit at après just remember, “Death before Download.”
*Editor’s Note: Feet has recently upgraded from the ol’ rear entry boots, visiting the pros at Surefoot Whistler. Learn more about how he learned to embrace the new-fangled technology.