The Whistler Blackcomb ski resort must be one of the best ski resorts in North America, let alone in Canada. This rating is due to its impressive skiable terrain and the quality of ski runs.
When you think of Whistler compared to other mountains in Ontario, where I am based, those miniature “ski hills” pale in comparison.
The purpose of this article on Whistler vs Blackcomb is not for me to say which is better; because they are both exceptional ski resorts.
Instead, I will outline when to choose Whistler and when to choose Blackcomb.
Your Whistler vs Blackcomb choice may be different based on your skiing or snowboarding ability, accommodation preference, and when you are travelling to Whistler.
If you have come to ski Whistler Blackcomb and you are a reasonable skier or snowboarder, you should experience both mountains. But there are important considerations to know about each.
My knowledge of these ski resorts come when my experience skiing in Whistler in February and March 2022 where we spent a week getting to know the resort intimately.
You can read more on essential things to know about skiing in Whistler here.
- Top 3 Picks: Best Whistler and Blackcomb Hotels
- Whistler vs Blackcomb – What is the Difference?
- Facts about Skiing at Whistler vs Blackcomb
- Which is Busier Out of Whistler and Blackcomb?
- Is Whistler or Blackcomb Better for Beginners?
- Which is Better for Intermediate Skiers – Whistler vs Blackcomb?
- Where to Stay in Whistler vs Blackcomb for Skiing?
- Where to Go for Apres-Ski Drinks in Whistler vs Blackcomb?
- How to Get to Whistler Ski Resort?
Top 3 Picks: Best Whistler and Blackcomb Hotels
No time to read the entire article and looking for somewhere to stay in Whistler? Find my top 3 picks for the best ski in ski out Whistler and Blackcomb accommodation here.
If you are looking for a luxurious option with incredible amenities and an ideal location, this is a great option.
📍Located at base of Blackcomb
🚡 Short walk to the Blackcomb Gondola
🎿 Ski valet
💧Spa, outdoor heated pool, and an abundance of free resort activities for guests
Whistler vs Blackcomb – What is the Difference?
When I first started researching my ski trip to Whistler, I did not understand the difference between Whistler and Blackcomb.
It can be confusing at first because the whole ski resort is called Whistler Blackcomb, but there are two mountains: Whistler and Blackcomb. The two mountains are connected by the Peak to Peak Gondola.
When you purchase Whistler lift tickets, you will get access to both Whistler and Blackcomb ski lifts.
To visit the Whistler side, you can take the Whistler Village Gondola, Fitzsimmons Chairlift (in Whistler Village) and Creekside Gondola. Creekside base is another ski village slightly closer to Vancouver but with access to Whistler.
The base of Whistler Blackcomb is the Upper Village. From the Upper Village, you can take the Blackcomb Gondola or the Excalibur Gondola from Whistler Village.
Facts about Skiing at Whistler vs Blackcomb
To get started, here are some statistics about Whistler and Blackcomb.
Both resorts are huge on their own, but combined Whistler Blackcomb creates an incredible network of ski runs. The ski area is vast, and you are bound to find something for all abilities.
Whistler Mountain Ski Resort
- Elevation of Whistler Village: 652 m
- Height of Whistler Mountain (top elevation): 2,182 m
- Skiable Terrain: 4,757 acres
- Number of lifts: 19
Blackcomb Mountain Ski Resort
- Elevation of Upper Village: 675 m
- Height of Blackcomb Mountain (top elevation): 2,284 m
- Skiable Terrain: 3,414 acres
- Number of lifts: 12
The difference in elevation between the villages and top of the mountains is vast, so make sure you wear layers to ski in, so you can adjust your clothing for the temperature.
Which is Busier Out of Whistler and Blackcomb?
It is no secret that skiing in Whistler Blackcomb is popular. Not only is it well-visited by international tourists and residents from around Canada. It is also adored by locals in British Columbia.
Therefore, if you are a tourist visiting Whistler Blackcomb and you have flexibility with your schedule, try to ski on weekdays as it will be much less busy.
On weekends, many locals from Vancouver, Squamish and beyond will head to Whistler to ski. Many locals will even take a day off work mid-week if the Whistler weather is good and there has been an exceptional dumping of snow. So, expect lines to be longer after snowfall overnight, no matter what day of the week.
To answer the question of which is busier, Whistler vs Blackcomb – they are both similar. A lift ticket gives you access to both mountains in Whistler Blackcomb, so people spread out. You will mainly note the crowds while waiting in line to get on a gondola or chairlift.
As a result, I recommend on weekdays when you want to get a prompt start to your day, be at the gondola before 8:00 AM. The lift will start loading people at 8:15 AM, for the official opening of the resort at 8:30 AM.
Whistler Ski Resort Hours 2023/2024 Season
The Whistler ski season goes from late November to mid-April – snow conditions depending. Whereas most years, it is possible to ski Whistler until later in Spring than Blackcomb – typically until late May.
Hours for Skiing Whistler Mountain
|November 23 – January 26
|8:30 AM – 3:00 PM
|January 27 – February 23
|8:30 AM – 3:30 PM
|February 24 – April 14
|8:30 AM – 4:00 PM
|April 15 – May
|9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Is Whistler or Blackcomb Better for Beginners?
Whistler is thought to have better options for beginner skiers and snowboarders or those who have only skied a handful of times.
One of the reasons Whistler is better for beginner skiers is because the learner slopes are mid-way up the mountain, rather than at the bottom – like on Blackcomb.
This has two benefits.
Firstly, generally speaking, the snow is better the further up the mountain you go. You will be able to master the art of skiing on fresh, fluffy snow, rather than slush or ice.
Secondly, as a beginner on Whistler you still get the feeling of being on the mountain and seeing the views, given that the greens are on the mid-mountain. The view from the greens on Blackcomb is more of the village.
Now we can look deeper into which is better out of Whistler or Blackcomb for beginners.
Is Whistler Good For Beginners?
Whistler has an excellent beginner learning area around the Olympic Mid Station.
To access these runs, you take the Whistler Village Gondola to Olympic Mid Station, and you will also find the Olympic Chair. There are magic carpets in this area, which are useful for those that have never used a chairlift before.
Once you have built up your confidence on the Olympic Chairlift, the Emerald 6 Express is a logical next step for Whistler beginner skiing. There is a Family Zone that goes from the Emerald 6 Express Chair with an array of greens to practice on.
Is Whistler Blackcomb Good for Beginners?
While Blackcomb does offer some beginner runs, there is less choice than at Whistler. Many of the Blackcomb ski runs are for intermediate skiers and above.
Numerous green runs on Blackcomb are cat tracks – a word I recently learnt. Cat tracks are flat paths used by Snowcats (snow grooming vehicle/piste basher). These runs do not offer much opportunity to practise your skiing skills and can be a nuisance for snowboarders.
However, if you have children or adults learning to ski I suggest the Magic Chair Whistler Blackcomb.
You can buy a separate ticket for The Magic Chairlift at the ticket counter and ride just this chairlift (rather than the whole of Whistler Blackcomb). It is a suitable option for beginners, although it is much lower down the mountain so the snow can be slushy.
Best Runs for Beginners at Whistler vs Blackcomb
- Burnt Stew Trail from Harmony 6 Express
- Green runs from Emerald 6
- Olympic Chair
- Magic Chair
- Expressway to 7th Heaven and Greenline from 7th Heaven
If you are looking for other great places to learn to ski, Bernex in France is a great place for beginners.
Which is Better for Intermediate Skiers – Whistler vs Blackcomb?
Both Whistler and Blackcomb offer incredible runs for intermediate skiers.
What is important to note about skiing in Whistler is that blues in North America are the equivalent of reds in Europe.
Therefore, intermediate skiers should enjoy green runs in Whistler (the equivalent of Blues in Europe) to finetune their skills. There is also an abundance of blue runs to challenge yourself or to pick up the pace.
There are no “red” runs in Whistler, a type of piste grading in Europe. The next run increasing in difficulty is a black diamond. A double black diamond in North America is equivalent to an off-piste black.
I have been skiing for over 20 years and I am a confident skier. I found myself most comfortable on blues in Whistler because these runs varied in difficulty. Many runs were wonderfully wide and open and extremely enjoyable to ski.
Runs for an Intermediate Skier in Whistler Blackcomb
Whistler and Blackcomb have many different runs suitable for those of an intermediate level and above. However, it can be overwhelming and hard to know where to start because there are so many.
It pays to have a plan for your morning of skiing.
Keep a copy of the Whistler Blackcomb map handy. You can keep your afternoon flexible depending on the lines, snow conditions, and visibility.
Also note, some runs may be closed in the morning due to previous heavy snowfall and avalanche management.
One of my favourite places to ski in Blackcomb was on 7th Heaven Express. You do not need to take specific runs – just follow a convenient route down to the chairlift. It is known for its “fall line” skiing, meaning the runs go straight down the mountain in the direction a ball would run.
7th Heaven does not always open first thing in the morning and is very popular, so keep an eye on signs and head there as soon as possible.
You can also find the “scariest run in the world” aka Saudan’s Couloir starting from the top of 7th Heaven, but I would probably avoid this unless you are an expert skier.
Symphony Express Chair is a popular option for intermediate skiers in Whistler. It should be noted that there is no ski-out access, which means you must take the Symphony Chairlift to get back to the other runs. The lift frequently breaks down, and as a result, you must walk up the slope to get out.
Here are some more recommendations to check out as an intermediate skier in Whistler.
Summary: Best Whistler Runs for Intermediate Skiers
- Blue runs from Emerald 6 Express Chair
- Harmony Ridge from Harmony 6 Express
- Symphony Express
- Upper-Peak to Creek from Peak Chair (only do Lower Peak to Creek if it has been groomed – there is a sign)
Summary: Best Blackcomb Runs for Intermediate Skiers
- Wish Bone on Jersey Cream Express (plenty of good runs to start at if upper mountains are closed)
- Crystal Ridge Express (incredible runs when they have been freshly groomed. Sometimes will not open at the start of the day)
- 7th Heaven Express (spectacular on a powder day)
- Peak Gondola (some steep runs)
Click here to view the Whistler Blackcomb Trail Map.
If you are an expert skier, consider making your way to the Blackcomb Glacier and finding the ice cave. Ski to Glacier Express and take the T-Bar to the top.
Then, you must hike with your skis up a little before skiing down into a bowl and to the ice cave. Watch this video to learn more about how to find the ice cave.
There are also options to enjoy heli skiing and terrain parks (to practice your jumps and tricks).
Where to Stay in Whistler vs Blackcomb for Skiing?
Next up in this article is my analysis of Blackcomb Vs Whistler accommodation. There are benefits to staying in each so I will outline them below.
Whistler Ski In Ski Out Hotels
One of the main perks of staying in Whistler Village is that you are within a short walking distance of many gondolas and chairlifts to get you up the mountain. While you cannot ski to the door of the hotels at the base of Whistler, most hotels are a short walk away.
Location is everything when picking your accommodation for a ski trip in Whistler. When you arrive in Whistler, you will be happy you paid those extra $100s for a convenient location.
Additionally, in Whistler Village, there are restaurants, bars, and shops at your fingertips.
Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside is the closest hotel in Whistler to the slopes – a few steps from Excalibur Gondola or Fitzsimmons Chair. The entry-level rooms are studio suites with a murphy bed and a kitchenette.
Book Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside here
Alternatively, The Westin Resort and Spa is next door to the Whistler Village Gondola. The hotel has a ski valet team where you can drop your skis off at the end of the day. The rooms are a little tired, so you are paying a premium for the location, rather than the quality of the room.
See prices for The Westin Resort & Spa, Whistler here
If you are looking for a more upscale hotel experience than in Whistler Village, you should book the Four Seasons Resort Whistler or Fairmont Chateau Whistler. These are both in the Blackcomb Village (Upper Village).
While the Four Seasons Resort is a little further from the bottom of the Blackcomb lifts (a three-minute walk), there is a shuttle to get you to the base of Blackcomb.
There is a ski concierge who takes care of your skis and transports them to and from the base of the mountain. Another treat offered at Four Seasons Whistler is complimentary wine tasting.
Book your luxury stay at Four Season Whistler here
Fairmont Chateau Whistler is an iconic hotel in Whistler. For the most luxurious stay, book a Fairmont Gold room with access to its Gold Lounge. The hotel also offers daily activities, including a mountain tour with an experienced ski guide.
The Fairmont in Whistler offers a shuttle to Whistler Village from 7:30 AM to 11:00 PM. Your skis are stored at the bottom of the mountain, so you do not need to lug them around.
Find prices for Fairmont Chateau Whistler here
Ski-in Ski-out Blackcomb Accommodations
Blackcomb is great for ski-in ski-out apartments. There are several apartment complexes located on the lower part of the Merlin ski run.
You can ski to the gate of your accommodation and walk a short distance to the ski valet that will store your skis overnight (since you cannot keep your skis in your room).
The apartments have full kitchens and generally accommodate up to 4 people in one king bed and a sofa bed. Each apartment is owned by a different company.
Here will find several VRBO Whistler Blackcomb options.
- The Aspens on Blackcomb – check availability on VRBO
- Blackcomb Spring Suites – check availability on VRBO
If you intend to end the day in Whistler Village, you can take the Excalibur Gondola to the first stop and ski home from Lower Merlins to your apartment. This gondola stops at 6:30 PM, giving you time to have some food and après ski drinks before heading home.
Also, booking accommodation with a hot tub is a game-changer. It was a great way to relax at the end of a tiring day skiing or snowboarding in Whistler Blackcomb.
Where to Go for Apres-Ski Drinks in Whistler vs Blackcomb?
You may not realise that Whistler is renowned for its lively apres-ski atmosphere.
Come 3:00 PM Whistler Village turns festive with live DJs and flowing drinks. Luckily there are suitable options for all preferences.
The Longhorn Saloon is the liveliest bar in Whistler Village for après ski drinks. The bar is known for its bright yellow umbrellas, champagne spraying guns, and dancing on tables.
There is usually a queue for a table at Longhorn’s. If you want to make a reservation at this après ski spot, you must purchase an expensive drinks package. Therefore, try to get to the bar before the ski lifts close and you should still expect to wait for a table.
Garibaldi Lift Co. Bar & Grill is a more chilled option for après ski drinks in Whistler. The bar is on the upper floor, so you get a good view from the balcony over Whistler Village. Try to get a table with a firepit for the cosiest drinks setting.
One of the final options for apres-ski in the Whistler Resort is at Black’s Pub. There is also a DJ playing live music outside to help you embrace the party atmosphere. Otherwise, you can sit inside for a more relaxed environment.
For those looking for a place to enjoy some drinks on the Blackcomb side in Upper Village, consider Merlin’s Bar & Grill. Some local ski instructors prefer to go to this bar.
How to Get to Whistler Ski Resort?
There are two main options for getting to Whistler. Those options are taking a shuttle or renting a car. You can also pre-book a private transfer, but the cost of these transfers is high.
Several different companies offer the shuttle ride, such as Whistler Shuttle, Epic Rides and Skylynx. You can take the shuttle from Vancouver Airport or Downtown Vancouver. The shuttle services are driven by luxury coaches.
Whistler Shuttle has an extensive list of drop-off locations, so you will be more likely to find your accommodation. However, it is significantly more expensive than the other options.
Epic Rides and Skylynx have fewer pick-up/drop-off locations, meaning you may have a way to walk if your accommodation is not in Whistler Village. There is a bus service within Whistler, but it sometimes goes on strike, so do not rely on it.
Top tip for taking the shuttle – make sure you sit on the left side of the coach on the way from Vancouver to Whistler Blackcomb because the best view is on this side.
Similarly, on the way back – sit on the right side of the vehicle going from Whistler to Vancouver to see amazing views along the Sea to Sky Highway.
Further Reading to Whistler vs Blackcomb
Take a look at the following articles to continue reading about winter, British Columbia and skiing.