Christmas time at Whistler — lots to be happy about 

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There is so much to be thankful about living in Whistler — particularly if sliding on snow is still high on your agenda. And this being the Christmas season, I thought I'd list a few of them... just for the fun of it. See if you concur.

The Snow: It's nothing we can control. Either the temperature drops and the autumn monsoons eventually turn to white, or things get really, really damp.... And most of us have been here when the latter occurs. Ouch. Fortunately for Whistler, the last few winters have all been launched with monstrous snowfalls and lightning-fast accumulations. Indeed, in recent years, this place has earned a global reputation for epic early-season riding.

But there's a hidden advantage to all this snow. Just recently I got a call from a friend in the city. "It's just awful," she moaned of the gloomy, rainy days that currently dominate her urban existence. "I go to work in the dark, and I get home in the dark. It's wet, it's gloomy, it's terribly mournful. It's like I'm living in a tunnel..."

And once more, I realized how blessed we are to be living in the mountains. Having been outside on the slopes playing on my skis for most of the last month — and golly-gee-whiz what a month it's been! — I can say I feel just as healthy and fulfilled in December as I do in midsummer.

In my opinion, it's an asset the snowsliding industry (and Whistler Tourism) don't promote enough. Getting outside in the winter isn't just about skiing or snowboarding. It's about getting a little mountain air in your lungs. A lick of sun on your face. A bit of exercise in your legs. You see, urban lifestyles — being what they are — offer the city denizen little in the form of outdoor activities from November 'till April. And that leads directly to depression and anxiety. Just think about it. This could lead to a whole new promotion: "Forget Prozac, my friends. Try Whistler Mountain instead.... The planet's natural anti-depressant."

The Mountains: It's not just the vast lift-served playground offered to us by Whistler-Blackcomb anymore. It's a lot more than that. With the revolution in the production of self-propelled touring gear — which includes everything from inflatable balloons stowed in your pack (that promise to keep you afloat in an avalanche) to new split board technology that facilitate backcountry snowboarding — has come a whole new approach in adventure sliding. From the wilds of Garibaldi Park, to the innumerable routes off the Duffey Lake road, Sea to Sky country has become the "It" destination for offpiste snowsliding adventures.

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