I’ve stopped on the side of Ridge Runner to take in the views, give my legs a rest and chat with my new friend Alex. We had just met the day prior at some of the Whistler Pride and Ski festivities so we were still on the what do you do’s and where did you grow up’s of getting to know each other. I’m doing my best to be friendly, but the conversation still has that stilted politeness of talking to someone you’ve just met.

Then, out of nowhere, I sensed something in my periphery whizzing toward me.


The snowball flies out of Hamish’s hands and hits me square in the chest, exploding in a cloud of powder. I stare at him, mouth ajar and before I can react, he throws another.

Our circle of friends – some new, some old – erupts into a snowball fight, and what started as a relaxing morning of skiing the 7th Heaven chair is now filled with breathless laughter, big smiles and good-spirited mischief. It’s like being a kid again!

One of the guided ski groups meeting on the slopes on Whistler Blackcomb.
Skiers taking part in the daily, guided ski groups. PHOTO WHISTLER PRIDE AND SKI FESTIVAL

Going to Whistler Pride and Ski Festival Solo

People often talk about how difficult it is to make friends once you’re an adult. It’s not like your adolescent days when each new school, new sport, or new whatever presented an opportunity to meet others like yourself. But there on Ridge Runner, with a bunch of thirtysomethings engaging in a snowball fight, you’d never know – it felt like we were kids again!

Whistler Pride and Ski Festival 2023 was my first time attending any sort of gay ski week and showing up felt like an enormous risk. I’m a writer, so my work and my byline are sent out into the universe on a regular basis, but in reality, I’m a pretty shy person! From a distance, events like this always struck me as exclusionary, cliquey and overly party-centric – all things I don’t love.

The Whistler Pride and Ski Festival parade makes its way through Whistler Village to Olympic Plaza. People are carrying rainbow flags and banners.
Everyone is welcome at the annual pride parade. PHOTO WHISTLER PRIDE AND SKI FESTIVAL / MIKE CRANE

But a few factors coalesced into me taking the plunge. First and foremost, it was at Whistler, a place which I’ve known and loved for many years – a familiar entity where I know the streets, the restaurants, the trails. Secondly, having skied so much all around the world for most of my life, I’m always looking for new ways to experience the sport. And so, Whistler Pride felt like the right choice.

The only thing holding me back at first was, because of my circumstances and schedule that week, I would be showing up alone, and it didn’t strike me as the sort of event where one just showed up alone. In this instance, I am thrilled to report that I was mistaken – showing up alone proved to be the single reason I was able to walk away from that week having met so many new people.

Bonding on the Slopes at Whistler Pride

As luck would have it, a friend of a friend of a friend whom I knew only over Instagram happened to be there at the same time. He saw that I had been posting about my arrival in Whistler and immediately invited me to join his group. Within twenty-four hours of my arrival in Whistler, introductions had been made, new friends had been found and we were well on our way to making the most of the week.

The beautiful part is that this was a group of friends I’m not sure I would have ever made had I not decided to take the plunge with Whistler Pride. Several of the guys in our group had journeyed together from Seattle, but many of us have come to Whistler Pride on our own from as far as Dallas, London and Sydney. Our group spanned engineers, corporate types and creatives. By the end of the week, we had made memories together and forged an experience that will last a lifetime.

There’s something about coming together for an affinity festival like Whistler Pride and Ski that removes the friction of meeting absolute strangers. When people with similar interests come together, they feel very heightened in one way, but much more real and authentic in another. You meet people in a way you wouldn’t meet them anywhere else, and possibly go much deeper. I often joke that vacation friendships are measured in dog years. A single week brought me closer to these people than I’ve ever felt to some of the colleagues I’ve known for years and years.

Now, twelve months later, I’m pleased to report that I’ve stayed in close contact with many of the friends I made at Whistler Pride last year, and most of us are looking forward to reuniting again this year.

And now that I’m getting ready to attend my second gay ski week, I know two things to be true. First, I should never feel nervous about whether I belong somewhere or how others might receive me. If you’re willing to put your whole heart out there, chances are you’ll be glad you did.

And second, I can’t wait to come back again!

Stay 3+ Nights in January and Receive a Free $100 CAD Whistler Dining Voucher

Whistler Pride and Ski Festival takes place January 21 to 28, 2024 and is one of the biggest and best, queer-focused ski weeks in North America. The 2SLGBTQIA+ pride week features a packed events schedule of skiing, snowboarding, celebrations, arts and culture, and social events. Book with Whistler.com to receive your free $100 dining voucher when you stay three or more nights from January 1 to 31, 2024.


Todd Plummer is an avid skier, adventurer and writer. He has visited Whistler numerous times and his favourite area to ski is Spanky's Ladder. He is a graduate of McGill University and lives in Boston.