A Snow Guide for Experts 

click to enlarge Ski and Snowboard Guide to Whistler Blackcomb: Advanced-Expert Second Edition. by Brian Finestone and Kevin Hodder.  Quickdraw Publications, 184pp.
  • Ski and Snowboard Guide to Whistler Blackcomb: Advanced-Expert Second Edition. by Brian Finestone and Kevin Hodder. Quickdraw Publications, 184pp.

Wow. Time flies. Hard to believe it's been seven years since Brian and Kevin let loose the wrath of old-time Whistler junkies by spilling the beans on all the best, secretest, most locals-only-know-these runs on Whistler and Blackcomb with their seminal edition of Whistler's best guidebook.

But the boys haven't been resting. The updated, second edition of the Ski and Snowboard Guide to Whistler Blackcomb, finds our intrepid guides way more comfortable in their guise as writers.

If their first foray into guidebook writing was wildly informative, this one's damn entertaining. They've got voice and attitude to burn. And if style isn't enough, they've made the whole package a lot more useful to people who don't know the mountains very well and people who do... or think they do.

Since the first edition, Whistler's added Symphony lift and brought the resort-side face of Flute in-bounds. Peak2Peak has made seismic changes to the way people experience and utilize the mountains and access the alpine areas of both Whistler and Blackcomb.

In addition, changes in ski technology and ski culture have evolved an ever more adventurous breed of snow junkies pushing the literal and aesthetic boundaries of what's skiable/ridable. The Guide will help inform all and, if they read carefully, may keep the latter from foolish injuries.

As with the first edition, every inch of in-bounds — and some nearcountry — terrain is captured in crisp aerial photos shot for the most part in bluebird conditions. Runs you never knew had names are numbered and clearly marked. They're rated for difficulty (up to triple diamonds) and assigned a subjective "quality" rating. Iconography is, again, generous and informative, offering run aspect, hazards, entrance conditions and my favourite, the floating ghost of scary and/or exposed runs. Still wish the mountain would adopt those.

How to find the lines — think some of the entrances to the gemstone bowls on Blackcomb — are sufficiently detailed to, hopefully, avoid the always entertaining skier-stuck-on-the-rocks-hollering-for-help phenomenon many of us have experienced... as observers, of course.

Aside from the nuts and bolts of the runs themselves and the ever-useful tips on avoiding lineups, the book is full of information about which a surprising number of skiers and boarders seem woefully uneducated.

Yes, I am referring to the Code of Conduct but even more so to the useful information about avalanche control, local weather conditions and how someone with limited time and a dearth of spatial awareness might link some of the runs together to create a wonderful, whole-mountain experience.

For those who like to keep score, there are both tick boxes next to every run description — 122 on Whistler and 110 on Blackcomb, not counting terrain parks which get their own chapter — and a handy Don't Miss list you can track your progress against. For those of us for whom the trip's the thing, well, the Ski and Snowboard Guide to Whistler Blackcomb will set us off on a couple of new adventures we know we should have taken but always wished we had someone more knowledgeable along for the ride.

This is the best $28 you're going to spend this Christmas.

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