As skiing destinations go, Whistler, 75 miles and one and a half hours out of Vancouver, is second to none. The altitude, climate and stunning surroundings, not to mention an apres ski scene to rival even the most glamorous Alp, all make it one of the world’s favourite ski resorts. Except what happens when the snow melts and the ski crowd plod off in their massive boots? Quite a lot, actually. So here’s what to do in Whistler in the summer.
Throw Some Axes
It turns out that axe throwing is pretty much a local delicacy in Canada, ideal for pinning up a wanted notice or braining a brown bear. Think of it as a more violent fusion of darts and bowling, with axe throwers chucking their lethal tommohawks at a target at the end of a lane. Forged is Whistler’s only indoor axe throwing centre, though possibly not its last given how popular the ‘sport’ is proving.
Have A Crafty Beer
Arguably not an ideal accompaniment to axe throwing, craft beer is as big in British Columbia as in its namesake here in Britain (and, presumably, in Colombia too?). As in the UK the trend of micro-breweries and craft beer has taken Canada by storm and nowhere more so than at Coast Mountain Brewing.
Horse ‘Back’ riding
Rather gratingly referred to as ‘horse back riding’ on the other side of the Atlantic (which other part would you ride?), six feet of snow is a little inhospitable for a hack around the countryside, hence the invention of skis. However, come the spring they take the Mr Eds off the shelf, dust them off and set them to work ferrying round latter-day cowboys, cowgirls and cowpeople round the impressive environs of the rocky mountains.
Jet Boat Adventure
When the snow gets busy melting it’s only got one place to go and that’s the same way as you as you plunge down rapids and through serene forests though hopefully not down the waterfalls that Whistler’s famous for. Set off with Whistler Jet Boating and jet around the Nairn Falls Provincial Park.
Paddle the river of Golden Dreams
Or, sticking on water, take things down a gear quite literally by swapping the jet boat for a kayak or canoe. The River of Golden Dreams winds through the mountains around Whistler connecting Green Lake and Alta Lake and Backroads Whistler can either provide the equipment and set you on your way, or offer guided canoe or kayak river tours.
Attend a festival
Where most festivals might be the bomb, Wanderlust might well be be the Om. The global series of yoga festival heads to Whistler in August and offer the chance to check in and check out some of the leading yoga types doing all sorts of yogery stuff.
Get some culture down you
Before the British arrived with innovations like warfare and smallpox the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations spent thousands of years building an advanced culture that lives on in the region. And the best place to learn about all it is at the Squamish and Lil’Wat Cultural Centre and a showcase for the art, history and culture of the community who were here long before the first ski lift was ever imagined.
Sure there’s golf courses, but who wants to be whacking a ball with a stick when you could be wanging a Frisbee up and down a mountainside with nothing but your hands and a whole lotta skill? Played in much the same way as golf, the quirky sport of disc golf has become quite a phenomenon, with a governing body and a host of courses to choose from.
If Cool Runnings was as childhood-defining for you as me then the chance to get in a an actual bobsleigh will have you feeling the rhythm, ride and getting over excited for bobsleigh time. At the Olympic centre, built for the 2010 Winter Olympics, the 1,450 meter-long ice track is open to visitors winter and summer and offer paying punters the chance to be a passenger on an bobsleigh.
Swing from the rooftops
If, like me, you’ve always quite fancied being a monkey, then the nearest you’ll get short of some seriously suspect gene therapy at a clinic in Mexico, is a treetop adventure course. The course in Whistler sees you safely strapped into harnesses and swinging high above the forest floor.
And if all that wasn’t enough, then wait until winter and when the White Witch returns to Narnia and a the place is transformed into one of the world’s best ski resorts with all manner of ski options and a food and drink scene that’s second-to-none.