Last year’s ski season at Whistler Blackcomb, the largest destination ski resort in North America, was cut short by the pandemic and an alarming number of local COVID-19 cases fuelled by spring break travel and resort town partying. Travel restrictions further curtailed any visions skiers might have had of powder-coated peaks and gleaming, exhilarating runs.
Preparing to welcome the (vaccinated) world back to the slopes for the upcoming season is no small feat. Before the first flake of snow even falls, the resort’s fleet of 39 snowcats must be stripped, serviced and readied to meet it. Each night of the season, as skiers dream of fresh tracks, the snowcats will smooth the previous day’s grooves and furrows into a uniform corduroy pattern. Like Santa’s elves, their efforts are invisible, gift-wrapping the mountain in smooth, white snow destined to be eagerly shredded in the morning. For those eager to return to big mountain skiing, these simple pleasures—cutting tracks into a pristine piste, a spray of fluffy powder—aren’t likely to be taken for granted again.
Whistler Blackcomb’s ski season this year will go from Nov. 25 to May 2022.
This article appears in print in the November 2021 issue of Maclean’s magazine with the headline, “Welcoming the (vaccinated) world back to Whistler.” Subscribe to the monthly print magazine here.