Monday, January 30, 2012

Whistler Ski Vacation! Car-free Holiday Number 5!

Our family loves skiing / boarding. Because we don't own a car, we don't do "day trips"; we prefer instead to take ski-weekends. We regularly do 3 of these a year for a total of about 10 days of skiing.

[Blackcomb Glacier]
For the car-free, Whistler is by far the most accessible of the resorts we visit. In fact it is so convienient that I wonder why anyone would even want to drive up there, given the price of gas, the exhaustion of early morning / apres-ski driving, and the parking fees in the town itself. It's not like you need a car once you are in Whistler, after all.

There are multiple bus lines operating service to and from Whistler. The Greyhound is one, but the Snowbus, Pacific Coach Lines (PCL), and now the new Whistler Direct Shuttle all offer very similar services. Prices and schedules vary; in general, the cheaper the fare, the less convienient the times.

The cheapest is the Greyhound - if you buy a "commuter" book of prepaid trips, you're looking at a mere $17 one way (you pay extra if you have more than one piece of luggage so make sure your boots are in your ski bag because they won't take them as carryon!). However, you are then on standby, and you have to wait for a free seat. As we discovered, this makes it difficult to get out of Whistler before 9pm on a Sunday! If you are travelling alone this might be an option, but with a family it is really not very suitable. However, it's something to consider for the way up, especially if you want to travel up there on a Thursday evening for Friday skiing. Greyhound has by far the most frequent service.

The Whistler Direct Shuttle is next at $28 one way, reserved seats. The schedule isn't as convienient as the more-expensive PCL as it leaves Whistler at 4pm, which is a bit of a rush if you, like my husband, insist taking the last run at 3:30. This service doesn't offer any evening departures from Vancouver to Whistler, only morning ones.

The reserved Greyhound seats are next in price; if you buy one you are guaranteed to travel. Greyhound adjusts the number of buses on the route for the demand. If you have a reserved seat you can have more luggage below. The bus usually makes stops at Squamish and at several points in Whistler as well as Vancouver.

Snowbus and PCL are the most expensive (about $34 one way), with no luggage restrictions and direct service from either Waterfront or Burrard Station to Whistler Village. There are 4:30 departures from the village.

We usually buy some take-away sushi right at the bus loop (there's also a grocery store right nearby) for a sushi dinner on the bus on the way home.

So much for getting there and back. The best place to arrange for accomodation is the main resort website; we usually go for one of those centrally-run time-share condo thingies so we get a kitchen. Finding both the check-in location and the actual condo you'll be assigned can be a problem though (in the dark, with crappy signage, acres of similar-looking condos, and piles of snow obscuring nameplates), so liberal use of Google Maps beforehand is highly advised.

[check out that powder!]

Get yourself an Edge Card for the best skiing deals. It gives you the cheapest tickets, and also discounts on lessons and rentals. I was renting this time; I tried out 3 different pairs of high-performance skis over the course of a 3-day weekend for $25/day. At this price, it is hard to justify buying them!


  1. Skiing on those beautiful slopes with the snow-capped mountains on the background is reason enough for any ski enthusiast to visit Whistler!

  2. ...and there are plenty of activities to do there, even if you don't ski! This is truly a world-class resort, and I feel blessed to be able to enjoy it.

  3. Here's the best deal: Transportation and Lift Ticket for $98 ($58 for children). 2 days for only $176. (Idunno if its 2 seperate days or consecuitive weekend.

    Also, As I argue here, The Sea to Sky should be tolled.