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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

The ski Mecca with the most terrain and fun beckons

When a comic gets serious, listen and take notes. A generation ago, David Brenner implored me to try his favorite cheesesteak. Brenner, a Philly native, was emphatic about how amazing the celebrated sandwich is at the White House, an old school sub shop in Atlantic City. Of course, the late author of the hilarious autobiography “Soft Pretzels with Mustard” knew where the best Philadelphia staple was made, even if it’s in a neighboring state.

The late actress Tawny Kitaen detailed where to dine in Newport Beach and the star of the cult film “Bachelor Party” was spot on. The original Mama D’s is a Southern California gem.

Chelsea Handler raved about Whistler, British Columbia.

“I’m not exaggerating, but Whistler is my favorite place in the world,” Handler said. “It is the greatest place to ski. If I could be anywhere right now, it would Whistler.”

The outrageous Handler, who has bragged about skiing the Whistler slopes in a bikini, gushed. So while in Vancouver, which is less than a two-hour drive to the largest ski area in North America, my family and I trekked to the skiing Mecca.

Whistler is as idyllic as Handler noted. But it’s not just about navigating the world-class terrain of Whistler Blackcomb, which is reason enough to travel to Whistler.

At the base of the majestic mountain is a scene, which is comprised of restaurants, ranging from 5-star to affordable bistros offering comfort food. There’s a variety of bars, lounges and nightclubs, and the village is dotted with an array of ski shops.

But those are to be explored after experiencing the grand peaks, which played host to the 2010 Winter Olympics. The big question is where to start since there are 8,100 skiable acres at Whistler. To put that in perspective, there are 2,900 skiable acres at Schweitzer.

Nearly 20% of the trails are green, over half are blue, 22% are black and 5% double-black.

While zeroing in on a low-stress blue, my son Milo, 18, persuaded me to follow him. “I researched this,” Milo said, as I followed him onto a gondola.

Before I knew what was happening, we were disembarking at the top of Blackcomb Mountain. After checking out the Olympic rings, we stared out at the horizon, which is breathtaking.

Then Milo took off and was flying down a 5,200 feet run. I lagged behind and took some breaks to soak in the atmosphere. I could hear a familiar voice saying, “Whistler is just incredible. Just wait until you get out there.” It was Handler, who re-entered my mind.

The twin mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb, are connected by the world’s largest and tallest gondola. Each mountain is packed with perfect powder. There are steeps, deeps, chutes, bowls, glades, long cruisers and high alpine and gentle rollers. There are terrain parks for every level. It’s impossible to be bored at Whistler.

The following day, Milo embarked on a Whistler Mountain tour. While at the peak at 7,165 feet, Milo could make out very little as he was shrouded in clouds.

“You couldn’t see more than 15 feet in front of you, but I just followed the leader of our group, and we finally slipped out of the clouds and the downhill run was incredible,” Milo said. “That was maybe the highlight of the Whistler experience.”

There are many options for lodging. It all depends on whether you would like to stay in Whistler Village, near the Blackcomb base, or in Creekside. The latter is more quiet and laidback. We stayed at the Adara Hotel Whistler, which is located in Whistler Village and offers the best bang for the buck. It’s an easy walk from the hotel to the ski lift in ski boots.

Stonesedge Kitchen was our go-to bistro. It was $40 for a delicious three-course meal . You can’t go wrong with the Bison Striploin, served with chive mashed potatoes and roasted rainbow carrots or the Duck Noodles, duck breast on a bed of udon noodles with bok choi, onions and carrots.

Heli-skiing, which Milo dreams of, an array of spas and snowmobiling tours are also on the menu. We didn’t experience any of those activities, but there is almost too much to do at Whistler.

“That’s why I return as often as I can,” Handler said.

You can always go back to Whistler. The slopes are open until May, so time is on your side. There is an intangible that you can practically feel that sets Whistler apart.

“There’s a vibe here that I’ve never experienced,” Milo said. “I can’t explain it, but I can’t wait to come back to Whistler.”

It’s not a difficult jaunt to Whistler. Roundtrips from Spokane to Vancouver are $344 via Delta. The YVR Skylynx from downtown Vancouver to Whistler is $42 roundtrip. The view from the bus of British Columbia’s rugged coastline, temperate rainforests and glacial peaks makes for a pleasant experience on the way to Whistler.