Whistler: Am I the only one who is a bit meh about it?
I probably should love Whistler. But, like musical reality shows, eggplant and Brisbane – it just doesn’t rock my world.
Ok, I get the concept. Frequently top-rated ski resort on the planet. A 1.6km vertical drop over two monstrous mountains. Twelve metres of snow in an average season (and talk of 1.2 metres in the next week would you believe). Massive village with every shop and dining option imaginable. Glaciers. Summer riding. Extensive mountain bike terrain. Easy access from a cool city like Vancouver. I’ve probably actually sold you …
Yet I’ve found the place hard to become infatuated with let alone form a meaningful relationship with. Here’s why.
It all started at the turn of the century when I joined 127,298 other Australians and applied for a job there. Weird experience. The interweb had barely been invented and here I had to sit an online test with psychological profile. The main HR fella/employer dude was called ‘The Director of Employee Experience’. I had one face-to-face interview and then was called in for a second – for a seasonal position on minimum wage.
I ultimately decided this wasn’t for me. I went to live in Rossland and I got a job at Red Mountain BC instead. Equally seasonal, wage equally minimal but there was something that charmed the pants off me about the place.
What happens at Whistler when I don’t go
Whistler has pretty much dissed me back ever since. It unfriended me on Facebook before there was Facebook. It makes me use Windows 8. It makes me watch Adam Sandler movies. I have thus failed to become endured to what everyone else tells me is the greatest place to ski in the universe. Perhaps I am cursed.
I’ve been back for between one and three days on four other occasions. Poor snow on the bottom half of the mountain or rain seem to have been features when I found myself there. I appreciate ski resort reviews are inextricably linked to the prevailing conditions (my first two visits to Mt Ruapehu in NZ were under blue skies and deep snow and I wondered why the place wasn’t regarded as the best ski hill in the Southern Hemisphere).
Then there’s the perception that size is all-important. But the older I get the more I’ve worked out that vertical is like pizza topping. Go for quality rather than quantity. Places like Whitewater BC, Kirkwood California, and from what I am reliably informed, Madarao Japan don’t have big drops but great fall-line riding and snow to more than compensate.
What happens when I go to Whistler
Coming from Australia the whole coastal snow quality thing may be overplayed a bit but if you are travelling 14+ hours it has to be a consideration about taking just a few more to get what’ll invariably be drier fluff in interior BC, Alberta, Colorado or Utah.
And the resort itself? For all the mod cons I also find the village a bit soul-less. Rossland, Aspen, Telluride et al – they’re towns first and ski joints second. I reckon that makes a big difference to the feel of a place.
While I am not big in Niseko any more either, I have no great beef with for-the-masses resorts. Money and patronage = facilities and services, I get it. But for now Whistler hasn’t shown me much love and a 42 year-old man can’t wait forever.