Posted August 2, 2004 -- Updated August 7, 2004
Tips for a killer Whistler trip

Since I spent three weeks in Whistler, I guess I'm qualified to dispense some advice. Here are some top-level tips. If you have other questions, ask me, and I'll post the answers.

This just in: Reader questions

I am from Australia and am going to Whistler for the first three weeks of September with 2 mates. I want to pick up some new gear (like leg armour, full face helmet, etc) before I start riding and I was wondering if I am better off picking up the gear in Vancouver or the prices in Whistler aren't that bad. Also I was wondering what the range of gear was like up in Whistler.

Last but not least what track do you recommend we hit first.

Damian Howard

The shops in the Whistler village are pretty darn good. They have all sorts of bikes and accessories, and they have great selections of armor. As a matter of fact, a few of my buddies bought some there. Prices aren't great; it's a resort town. Also, I looked for a Dianese bib, but couldn't find my size. Protection is so personal, I suggest stopping in Vancouver and getting yourself dialed before you go north. Besides, when you get to Whistler you'll lose your mind and do some runs before you go shopping. Bad idea. ...

Start with A-Line. It's super flowy and a nice warmup.

Post up some run advice. I know you've gone over most of the trails, but there's gotta be a couple of gems out there. How bout some fairly stealthy, non-obvious lines that rip ... Any cool/must hit run combos and less than obvious lines would be great. (Sorry Sanjay's step up over the wall ride doesn't count. I'd prefer to live through the vacation) But pointing out stuff like that so I can marvel is always appreciated. Last year I sat on the lip of the canyon gap where Wade Simmons broke his leg ... Crazy!

Thanks for all your articles. I'm living vicariously through the web until September when I get to go :)

Scott Robinson

Hmm. I've done every trail. Here are some favorite runs:

Up the Garbanzo lift and down Original Sin. This is full flowy DH action. At the junction with Duffman, take the dirt road back to the Garbanzo lift and repeat. There are no lines up top, and it's usually cooler up there too. I could do this all day. Wait, I have done this all day. Just to give you an idea, my best time from the lift to the junction is 7:48.

Lower Joyride. The series of supertight, supersteep switchbacks will test you. Right when your arms are pumped ike blimps, you have to ride a three-level plank with a steep drop to the right. Whew! Rad!!!

When you come to the bottom area above the bikercross course, take a right over to Heart of Darkness. It's a fast, flowy blue trail with a nice personality, and it drops you at the lift.

Dude, A-Line to Crabapple Hits (five sweet jumps) to A-Line. Lay off the brakes and fly 20, 25, 30, 35 and more feet to perfect backsides.

Lower A-Line. When you reach the bottom area, rail Hornet through the trees, hang a sweeping right then dig A-Line's last three jumps. One: Nice table that's easy to overshoot. Two: Superlong table with a mellow lip; hold speed and pump it a bit and you won't feel it when you land. Three: This table is too short for your speed, but hip it to the right and catch the extended backside against the hill.

Holy cow, I could go on forever. One more:

On Lower A-Line, where all the trails come together. Roll the little roller and hit the little table into the right berm. At the next table, hip across to the far right. You'll land on an extended rock face and drop perfectly into the berm. Sweet.

Feats of note:

At the very top of A-Line there's a flattish left then a long stepdown double. Brian Lopes was clearing this past the landing and past the rocks on the downslope. You'll see what I mean. Probably 40 feet.

At the top of Duffman, The Manager drop was claiming carcasses. It's since been rebuilt.

Where In Deep crosses a ski run, check out the rock wall ride. Then check out the huge rock wedge that Lopes boosted off of(1 2). Only he and Wade Simmons have tried it.

Too much fun.

Hi Lee,

Was pleased to read your article on Whistler.

I am heading over there on Sept 5th and will be staying at the hostel on the far side of the lake.

Thanks for all your hints and am looking forward to the trip very much.


James Dibbs

James, you are one stoked monkey. I'm trying to arrange one last trip after our national championships at Mammoth Mountain, California. In fall there should be less dust and better temperatures for wearing body armor.


--- Lee

And another thing: Take care of your hands
If you're in good shape, your hands are the weak link. How many of us do 6-10 hours of DH every day for a week? Most riders get blisters, which you don't want. 1) Make sure you wear tight, fresh gloves every day. Bring a ton and/or do laundry. 2) You'll be amazed at how fast your calluses grow. Some thick skin is a good thing, but when they get too thick, the calluses pinch the skin around them and create blisters. This sounds funny, but bring some emory boards, and keep those tough dermal cushions files down nice and smooth. 3) If you feel hot spots, stop riding before you get a blister. Once you get one, you change your grip, then you get another, and so on. The quality of riding is so high at Whistler, don't ruin it with too much quantity.

Here are my original tips

Equipment. Bring or rent a big bike. Whistler has fantastic trail riding, but it's all about the DH. The local rental fleets contains top-level machinery, but suspension setup will be shoddy. If you can, bring your own DH or freeride rig. Run downhill tires with downhill tubes. I suggest a general-purpose tread (Minion, High Roller, Nevegal, Moto Raptor, Timber Wolf) to deal with both the dust and mud you'll likely encounter. Wear your armor! I ran a Dianese jacket with a CamelBak in place of the back plate. ... One more thing: Carry enough tools to get you off the mountain. If you decide to ride light, that's fine, but if you flat don't flag me down as if someone's hurt and ask for my spare tube, and don't make me wait around for you to finish with my pump. If you flat without tools, start walking.

Recovery. The hardest thing about Whistler is you ride yourself into the ground every day, then you do it again the next day. Drink water every run. Eat throughout the day. If you get so tired your riding suffers, call it a day. If you're there longer than a few days, force yourself to take some rest. Maybe two days hard and one day easy, or three days hard and one day off, or whatever feels right. WARNING: If you don't get adequate rest, your riding will suffer. At best you won't have as much fun; at worst you'll hurt yourself. 08/07/04 UPDATE: I've been home for more than a week, and I'm still tired to my core. 24 straight DH days will do that to ya.

Lodging. Stay right in the village. The places aren't super cheap, but the location is ultra convenient. You can get up, eat, ride, eat, ride, eat and sleep without driving and without hassle. I stayed in the Crystal Lodge, which was fine. Check out and search for hotels in Whistler. If you don't find a great deal there, you could try walking from hotel to hotel looking for a steal. Some of the boys showed up and got a last-minute screaming deal on a deluxe apartment in the Sundial, and my man Mark got the owner's suite at the Crystal Lodge for less than I paid for a normal room.

Food. Whistler village has tons of restaurants, most of which are pretty pricey. I suggest hitting the grocery store so you can eat breakfast and lunch in your room or condo. Treat yourself to dinner out in the village.
  • Mongolian Grill kicks almighty ass, but beware: You can easily spend $40 on a plate of sir-fry love. It's totally worth it.
  • Earl's has pretty good food, and the wait staff is 100 percent beautiful women, in case you're into that sort of thing.
  • Avalanche Pizza does huge slices for $3.50 each, $Canadian. That's the best deal in town, from a calorie to dollars standpoint.
  • The Garbanzo Bike & Bean, right next to the lift, has tasty wraps and sandwiches for a quick stoke.

Take time to smell the roses. The trails are so intricate and engaging, it's easy to forget you're in such a rad place. Check out the view from the lift. Go swimming in one of the lakes. Ride XC on A River Runs Through It.

Be prepared. The village contains a lot of single men and women, most of whom are outdoorsy and fun-loving. If you're on the prowl, make sure you bring whatever you need to feel safe, if you know what I'm saying.

Bring your puppy! Most of Whistler is pet friendly. If you drive, bring your little buddy. They love nothing more than some bye-bye car and a swim in the lake.

While you're traveling around, don't forget to buy your Smootchie something nice. Something like this.

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