5 Surprising To-Dos in Whistler

By Mary-Colleen Jenkins

#1 Waffles at the Crystal Hut

Technically this is a ski-based activity, but we heard about the legendary waffles at the Crystal Hut on our second day at Whistler and, sadly, never managed to eat one.

The tiny lodge on Blackcomb Mountain was absolutely packed when we went in and, from the smell of the waffles floating in the air, we understood why.

Next time? We’re skipping breakfast on our first day and heading straight up the mountain to Crystal Hut before the crowds converge!

Dean at GayWhistler can verify – The Waffels are amazing! Arrive early as the Crystal Hut gets crazy busy as the day continues. Side note: Canadian Snowmobile also does night fondue dinners at the Crystal which is also worth checking out.

The Crystal Hut: www.whistlerblackcomb.com

#2 Dog Sledding

Dog sledding is the quintessential Canadian experience and several operations in Whistler make it easy for tourists to get a taste of one of the oldest forms of transportation in the world.

Guided tours last up to three hours and include education on harnessing and staging the dogs, interpreting the musher’s vocal commands and, for the adventurous, a chance to drive the dogs yourself.

After your ride, you might even get a chance to mingle with the next generation of working dogs: the puppies!

Canadian Wilderness Adventures: www.canadianwilderness.com
Blackcomb Dogsled: www.blackcombdogsled.com

#3 Winter Ziplining

Skiing and dog sledding get you right into the heart of the mountains, but ziplining offers a completely different experience: soaring above inaccessible terrain through old-growth forest.

Ziplines are more and more popular these days, but how many places offer you a high-altitude experience of zipping through the snow-covered trees on a bluebird day? It’s a winter person’s fantasy!

Two major companies operate from Whistler-Blackcomb, and each has a unique take on the art of ziplining. Each outfitter also offers several options for adventure – imagine stepping off a platform and zipping through the skies at night!

Dean at GayWhistler says: “Without a doubt this is one of my fav experiences. Where else can you race through the forest like a Jedi Knight or Indiana Jones. SuperFly has been a Whistler Pride partner for the last three years.”

Superfly Ziplines: www.superflyziplines.com
Ziptrek Ecotours: www.ziptrek.com/whistler-canada

#4 Biathlon

One of the most interesting sports in the Winter Olympics is the biathlon. It’s incredible how the athletes are able to ski at such a heart-thumping pace and then calm themselves down enough to hit a target five times before sprinting off to do it all over again.

The Whistler Olympic Park in the Callaghan Valley, built for the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, offers newbies the chance to test their aim on the biathlon course.

Never fired a rifle before? That’s okay. The Park offers individual, semi-private and family lessons. You can choose your preferred type of skiing (classic or skate), and an instructor will take you out for a two-hour lesson.

Whistler Olympic Park: www.whistlerolympicpark.com

#5 Bobsleigh

This is another Olympic sport that I don’t fully understand, and, to be honest, I’m not sure that I really want to try it so much as to see it up close. The Whistler Sliding Centre allows visitors to try it (if they’re brave enough) or to watch (if they’re not).

If you are adventurous enough to give it a go, the team at the Sliding Centre will take you on an experience of a lifetime. They will guide you through everything, from being appropriately outfitted, to track etiquette and a mock run, before hitting the track with a professional pilot at the helm.

If hitting the final curve at 75 miles per hour isn’t enough to assuage your need for speed, then you can always try skeleton at the Sliding Centre, too!

Dean at GayWhistler says: “Best Roller Coaster Ride ever! It is quite exciting to be hitting a couple G’s as you hit Thunderbird Corner. How often can you say you got to ride the Olympic Sliding course? A must do.”

Whistler Sliding Centre: www.whistlerslidingcentre.com

Mary-Colleen Jenkins is a freelance editor, writing coach and writer of the blog Along the Branches (www.alongthebranches.wordpress.com). She teaches technical writing at the University of Washington. You can find her on Twitter at @EmceeReads