Rob Heule’s ski days started at the Canada Olympic Park outside of Calgary, Alberta. Since then he has grown a wispy mustache, gravitated toward tighter denim, and become one of the smoothest park and street skiers in the sport, traveling and stacking video footage for most of the year. When Heule isn’t on the road, he spends a lot of his time in the legendary mountain town and freeskiing hotbed of Whistler, British Columbia, skiing and hanging with friends. With its virtually year-round skiing and access to outdoor activities, Whistler Blackcomb has a whole lot to offer for any outdoor enthusiast. We asked Mr. Heule for some insider tips on enjoying the action sports mecca, and here’s his inside scoop.
Where to ski
On a park day, Whistler and Blackcomb both have world-class terrain parks, so it’s always hard to choose which park to shred. I find myself in the Black park on weekends since the Catskinner chairlift services the whole park, and you can avoid the weekend crowds. You get to watch people lap from the lift, so it makes for a pretty entertaining ride heckling everyone in the park on the way up. Whistler Park is a go-to on the weekdays (Emerald Chair is more of a family-oriented area, so you usually have to wait in line a little longer). Sometimes this is a good thing, considering how tired you are after hitting the ridiculous amount of features in a row, not to mention the amazing flow, variety of rails, jumps, and unique features that are always being changed by the park crew.
On a powder day … well, I can’t give away too many secrets, but like most resorts, skiing in the trees is where you’ll find the most snow. There are some amazing pillow lines and mini-golf cliff bands to jump off no matter where you go off-piste. Peak Chair is quite the spectacle when the weather clears and Patrol open it up. From the lift line, you can stay entertained watching the keen at heart jump off the array of cliffs to the lookers right (see Julian Carr’s ridiculous Superman front flip infamous cliff “Air Jordan” in the Sherpas film “Into the Mind”).
My personal favorite thing to do when there’s a bit of a dry spell is go for a high-speed cruise around the mountain looking for fun natural lips, bumps, and trannys to catch some hang-time.
Place to park at the mountain
Village Day Lots 4 & 5 are free, as well as the underground in Creekside, and Base II at Blackcomb.
Where to eat and drink
I’ll list my favorites in the order you should visit them throughout the day. It will take you an entire day, so plan accordingly: Wildwood Tennis Club for breakfast—they have a daily eggs benny special, along with their specialty banana bread French toast, and don’t forget a breakfast Caesar and cup of Joe to accompany your inevitable hangover.
For a quick lunch, take a trip to BBQ Bob’s in Creekside—they make the best pulled pork sandwich I’ve ever eaten. If you’re looking for a vegetarian/vegan option, Gone Bakery in the center of Whistler Village has an amazing soup menu, accompanied by an array of delicious baked goods.
For dinner, sushi is a must. Ka-ze Sushi located in the bottom of the Westin Hotel is a little off the beaten path, but well worth the small detour. “Tokyo Tom” makes the best sushi in town, and has a couple signature rolls, my favorite being the Tropical roll—tempura shrimp wrapped with salmon, avocado, and mango. Kampai!
To get your night off to a good start, go visit bartender Max Hill at the El Furniture Warehouse for a Whistler Brewing Co. Grapefruit Ale, or his signature Raspberry Mojito (if you’re feeling sassy).
Sites worth a visit
During the summer, my favorite after-ski activity is to ride my bike along the Valley Trail to one of the many lakes around the Whistler Valley for a refreshing dip! During the colder winter months when this is not as appealing, I like to go check out the thrift store called the Re-use It Centre in Function Junction. The top of the 7th Heaven Chairlift at the Horstman Hut is an epic vista on a sunny day, and a great place to enjoy a picnic and a beer with friends.
Places to sleep
The first question you need to ask yourself is, “What is my budget?” Here are some options based on my personal experience that cover a broad range of budgets.
$0—Back of car/van (this is my preferred accommodation)
Unfortunately you aren’t supposed to camp overnight in the day lots.
Located in the Athletes Village, and a short bus ride to Creekside Base Area.
$109—Delta Village Suites
In the center of Whistler Village and within a short walk of all the amenities.
$2,804—Four Seasons Presidential Suites
“Overlooking the pool area, and with expansive views of the surrounding mountains, the prestigious one-bedroom Presidential Suites are perfectly suited for casual entertaining,” the hotel’s website says.
Place to party or go out
I try to keep the partying to a minimum, but it’s difficult when there’s always something going on. The Longhorn Saloon is a guaranteed good time around WSSF (World Ski and Snowboard Festival) time. Just look for the patio with the big yellow umbrellas. There’s always a really cool art exhibit going on during the festival at the Telus Conference Center—lots of local artists showcasing their work, definitely a must-see.
Check out Rob Heule’s full-length segment from last season here, “The Life Bertquatic”:
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