Alpine hiking, biking and sightseeing will return this summer with some new twists.
Whistler and Blackcomb mountains now have more than 50 kilometres of alpine trails above 1,800 metres (6,000 feet).
The trails have been dubbed the Alpine Wonder Routes and according to Arthur DeJong, WB's mountain planning and environmental resource manager, there's a strong emphasis on attracting alpine runners to Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains this summer.
Alpine runners are being directed to the Rooftop Route, a 10km single-track trail that starts at the Roundhouse Lodge on Whistler Mountain and leads to views of Cheakamus Lake and the surrounding peaks of Garibaldi Provincial Park. The trail is recommended for advanced runners with previous trail running experience.
Whistler Blackcomb has also teamed up with Salomon to create an alpine running club. Club members will get a trail running clinic designed to hone technical trail running skills and provide exclusive and early access to alpine running trails to prepare for the 5 Peaks Enduro race on Aug. 24.
For those who like to maintain a slower pace, DeJong recommended the Spearhead Walk.
"We actually opened the trail last year, late in the year, but it's finished this year," said DeJong. "That just takes you out from the Roundhouse and it's really just a 30-40 minute walk and gives you great views of Garibaldi Park, up into the Overlord, both the Spearhead and Fitzsimmons ranges."
The environmental advocate said he believes the mountains here are significantly under-realized for the beauty they offer.
"Every local, if they haven't already, needs to try the High Note Trail on Whistler and on Blackcomb the Overlord Decker Trail," said DeJong from his office at the end of a busy day. "Both (were) built in partnership with (BC) Parks into some of the most pristine alpine regions in the entire park."
According to DeJong, the wildflowers are exceptional and vast, especially on the Blackcomb side.
For those fascinated by the engineering of the Peak 2 Peak Gondola a new raised walkway has been created to offer a better view of the gondola straddling the Fitzsimmons Valley. The walkway includes interactive video tablets that show videos showcasing the construction of the gondola towers and cable installation while providing facts and statistics along with the history of Whistler Blackcomb.
The Peak 2 Peak Viewing Gallery will be unveiled on May 25 when summer operations begin for the Peak 2 Peak Alpine Experience.
For bike enthusiasts downhill bikes designed specifically for kids have been added to the rental bike fleet. The Whistler Mountain Bike Park will open on Friday, May 17 (see page 50 for more).
Skiers and snowboarders will be welcomed to the Horstman Glacier for summer skiing and riding from June 22 to July 28 from noon to 3 p.m. each day.
"We have an opportunity to compete with any nature-based experience in the world based on the beauty of our alpine," DeJong said of what's possible in the alpine areas accessed by the WB lift system.
Social media users who like the idea of visiting the alpine then showing friends and family what they are missing out on will discover that WiFi service has expanded to a number of new spots on the two mountains.
Added Dave Brownlie, Whistler Blackcomb President and Chief Operating Officer: "We are also excited about the construction of two new chairlifts, already underway, in preparation for our 2013/14 winter season."
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