‘Skiing is life,” a poetic Dean Cummings once told me when I first met him almost a decade ago. At the time I agreed, and to a certain extent I still do. Yet, over the years I’ve come to realize that not everyone likes to ski. I’ve also accepted, if not completely understood, that only some skiers can find partners who equally enjoy skiing.
Relationships aside, I refuse to accept that an interest in skiing is a necessary prerequisite to enjoying a trip to Whistler. As the brochures, awards and websites proclaim, there are ample things to do in Whistler for people of all interests. Here are a few ideas for a lousy weather day or a week for non-skiers.
1. GO ZIPTREKKING
I realize that to some this might sound like a lame adventure for punters. I once thought so, too, but it really can be a ton of fun. The roughly three-hour trip allows you to reach speeds of up to 80 kph as you soar above and through the rain forest between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains on North America’s longest zipline. It’s a perfect way to occupy a morning or afternoon while your friends are up the hill. Zip Trek
2. SHARE THE LEGACY
With the help of $3 million from the province under the Shared Legacies Agreement, the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre officially opened its doors last July just steps away from the base of Blackcomb. Situated in a truly majestic building designed in the form of a Squamish longhouse and Lil’wat underground pit dwelling, or Istken, the centre offers guided and self-guided museum tours showcasing art and artifacts of the two Nations, as well as a great hall, theatre, café and gift shop. Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre
3. RIDE THE P2P
This gondola is not just for skiers. Opened in December, the Peak 2 Peak ride (um, lift) offers skiers and non-skiers alike an 11-minute trip between the Roundhouse on Whistler and the Rendezvous on Blackcomb or vice versa. (Nonskiers can go up one mountain, cross over on the P2P, then down the other.) At its highest point, the lift’s cabins dangle 436 metres above the valley, travel 4.4 km between stations and more than three km between lift towers, making it the highest and longest unsupported cable car span in the world. With stats like that, few would be surprised to see someone base jump from one of the cabins. Whistler Blackcomb
4. SOAK UP THE ATMOSPHERE
I don’t care if you’ve never set foot on snow, going to Whistler without having a drink at the GLC, Merlin’s and the Crystal Lounge is akin to going to Maui and not taking the time to see a wave. Try to soak up the experience during the prime après-ski hours of 3:00 to 5:00 each afternoon over nachos at Merlin’s, the Piccolo sandwich at the GLC or wings at the Crystal. If you plan to hit all three in a single day’s session, I’d suggest Merlin’s, GLC and then the Crystal, in that order.
5. SEE THE HAIRFARMERS
Time it right and you might be able to tick off No. 4 and 5 in one fell swoop since the Hairfarmers truly are the “quintessential ski town band,” performing at bars around town almost daily. Band members Grateful Greg and Guitar Doug are legends of the après scene in various group and solo reincarnations, but their performances as the Hairfarmers provide the most diverse selection of musical genres and should become the soundtrack to your Whistler experience. The Hairfarmers
There’s plenty more to keep you endlessly entertained in town. So start with this list and if that doesn’t lead you to discover a million other things you’d like to try, head to Sushi Village for a round of sake margaritas and repeat until you agree that even if skiing isn’t life, at the very least life should include Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre.Tags: Blackcomb, British Columbia, Crystal Lounge, Dean Cummings, GLC, gondola, Hairfarmers, Merlin's, non-skiier activities, Peak 2 Peak, ski band, skiing, Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, Whistler, ziptrekking