Early Season Tips Provided by Guest Author, Brian Hockenstein

Boom. As soon as the snow begins to fall in Whistler, the enthusiastic social media posts begin to explode across the interweb. As soon as the mountains open for the Whistler ski season, it’s definitely time to get excited, but not to the point of recklessness; Whistler winters can be long and snowy (ski season can last six months around here) and you are gonna want to enjoy all of it.

With that in mind we’ve put together this list of early season riding tips we think are important to ensure you enjoy a long and fruitful Whistler winter.

#1 – Resist the Urge to Bust out those New Skis Too Early

Whether a big snow year or a low one, it’s always wise to be aware of early season obstacles as the snowpack builds up and consolidates. While Whistler Blackcomb spends a lot of energy clearing the runs of debris all summer anything off the main run is still just a normal mountainside with rocks, sticks and more rocks lurking under that seemingly perfect pow.  Avoid damaging your fresh new sticks by sticking to your old ones for the first few weeks of the season. Trust us, there’s a good reason any seasoned local has a “rock board” or “rock skis” in the garage.

#2 – Slow and Steady Wins the Race

If I had a penny for every buddy who hurt himself because he just couldn’t help from tossing a sick 1080 loop-de-loop on that very first run of the year… well, I’d have a bunch of useless pennies. But seriously, take it slow and work your way to take dumb risks early on.

#3 – Be Prepared and Dress Appropriately

This time of year the weather can and will be all over the place. Just cause it’s sunny and nice down in the Village doesn’t mean it’s not storming up top. Study those weather forecasts and take advantage of all the sweet webcams posted up around town and on the hill. When in doubt for early season riding, layer up and then remove and stash layers as needed.

Two skiiers on a sunny day in the mountains.
Check the forecast and dress for the weather. PHOTO CREDIT: GUY FATTAL

#4 – Preparation is Key – Gear

Is your gear ready for another year? Getting those skis and boards tuned is an absolute base minimum. You’re also going to want to make sure your soft goods are in decent enough shape to get you going. Duct tape goes a long way! We cover this in detail in our blog on winter tune ups.

#5 – No Really, Preparations is Key – Your Body

There’s nothing worse than having to call it quits by 10:30 because you’re too out of shape to go on. A week or two of light stretching in the mornings will go a loooong way here, so get those muscles moving before you regret it! Yoga is a great way to stretch. Check out our Insider’s Guide to Ski Season Fitness.

#6 – Lock Down An Early Season Accommodation Deal

Early season is all about the deals. There’s a ton of wicked awesome specials on, from room-only to local restaurant specials to full ski-and-stay packages. Take advantage and leave yourself more loot to come back again in a few weeks, and again a few weeks after that!

#7 – Know When to Fold ‘Em…

Again, it’s a long season. So don’t think you need to impress yourself or anyone else and ride all day in the early season. When you feel yourself getting tired don’t be afraid to call it. Being tired is the number one reason people get hurt on the mountain so know when to come down and go directly to…

#8 – Après

Après is as much a part of skiing and riding as anything else. And Whistler has one of the most legendary après scenes this side of the Atlantic (let’s not even try to compete against those nutty Euros, they’ve been après-ing for generations). Pick your spot (my personal choice is Dusty’s in Creekside), grab a table and a Caesar and enjoy. Early season après is even more special because everyone is just so happy to be back on snow.

Skiiers head to apres after a day on the slopes.
Enjoy some well-earned apres drinks and snacks after your day on the mountain. PHOTO CREDIT: JUSTA JESKOVA

#9 – Après-Après aka: The Spa

Early season is the best time to treat yourself to a bit of pampering. A nice massage at any of the Whistler spas or a session in the pools of the Scandinave will do wonders for your body, mind and most importantly your ability to get out of bed the next morning. Go on, pamper yourself, you deserve it (and you’ve got a long season ahead).

#10 – Have Fun

That is the point of it all, right?

Everything you need to make your early season Whistler dreams come true can be found at Whistler.com


Brian Hockenstein is a Whistler-based photographer and filmmaker who loves nothing more than spending time in the incredible British Columbia wilderness and sharing the amazing sights he sees along the way, whether through photography, film or emerging technologies such as Virtual Reality Video.