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Maxed out: How to be cool in Whistler

max june 24
There are plenty of ways to beat the Whistler heat this summer.

In typical B.C. fashion, we’ve wrung in the summer solstice by going from extra layers to an urgent warning from Environment Canada that Whistler would be hit with severe weather: a heat wave! Bring it on. Summer’s here and the time is right...

Warning, schmorning, what can you say about a place where the sun shines hard every day—OK, I exaggerate—there’s plenty of things to do to entertain you, a feast of outdoor activities is just a few pedal revolutions away, the natural beauty is off the Wowee Scale, humidity is just a vague memory from when we all lived in Ontario, and the mercury follows the sun down into the comfort zone every evening, compliments of altitude and glaciers overhead?

Nothing bad.

And that’s the goal for today: nothing bad. So if you were expecting another rant, move along folks, there’s nothing here for you to see. Seldom is heard a discouraging word, at least this week.

In the heart of the summer and the heat of the day, there’s just no room in my overheated head to be anything but upbeat. It’s not like we get so much summer that we can afford to miss out on any of it by being grumpy. But I am not without empathy for those less fortunate, those bedeviled by long, hot days. The Summer-Challenged.

Of course, I had the extreme good fortune to grow up in the southwest USA, a land of unlimited sunshine, very little rain, no biting insects, cowboy leftovers and altered-reality landscapes. Local newscasts never bothered to hire weathermen; they didn’t need them. They had amusing hand puppets whose recorded voice would say, “Tomorrow will be sunny and warm.” They were right about 360 times a year. What passes for a “really hot” day up here reminds me of a mild spring afternoon. But I feel your pain. Your concerns are my concerns.

Coming of age in that environment, I learned three very valuable lessons: Always shake your boot out before you slip your foot in; learn to order cold beer in at least one other language; and know as many ways to beat the heat as Montrealers know how to stay warm when it’s -40 degrees outside.

So, being the public-spirited kind of guy you’ve come to expect, here’s Max’s 10 best ways to beat the heat in Whistler. With B.C.’s restart underway and a hot weekend ahead, we just might find ourselves talking about overtourism again, but even tourists need to chill and I would be remiss to not welcome them to take advantage of these tips as well.  

1. Go jump in a lake. Alta Lake is chilly-warm and wonderful and if the new plan goes well, not choked with cars. If you like crowded pools, jump in at Rainbow or Lakeside Parks and rub shoulders with the rest of the funseekers. Better still, rent a canoe or kayak, paddle to a secluded spot and have your own private fun. For those of you unsure, yes, naked swimming is not only allowed, it’s encouraged. Don’t forget sunscreen.

If you prefer to have a lake all to yourself and like colder water, try Green Lake. Just kidding. Green Lake’s really cold. The last guy I saw jump into Green Lake came out looking like he was wearing a bow tie. He may never be a father.

If you’re one of those people who feel they have to suffer before they’ve earned their pleasure, hike up to Rainbow Lake for a quick dip. When you get back to town, book some therapy.

2. Have a snowball fight. Take a ride to the top of either mountain and dig in. Grab a cool drink and a fan and take the gondola up Blackcomb, find the nearest snow patch and pelt the snot out of each other. Make snow angels. Be sure to bring along a garbage bag. No, it’s not trashy up there, but it’s most assuredly worth riding over to Whistler and hiking over to Harmony Bowl to slide down a slope.  

3. Grab some AC time. Yes, there are a few places in town with chilled air. If you’re in serious need of reducing your core temp and can’t abide a quick lake dip, pull up a couch in, for instance, the Mallard Lounge and order a frozen daiquiri or three. Think of ‘em as adult snowcones.

4. Feel the wind in your face as you gain altitude. Throw a leg over an ATV, crack the throttle, and get to a cool place. I can’t even keep track of who goes where anymore or even who’s in the biz these days, but they all get high and the ride’s a breeze. Be sure to pass your guide; they really enjoy it when you do that.  

5. Ride the wild whitewater. River rafting operators abound. From mild to wild, you shoot the rapids on Green, Birkenhead, Squamish and Elaho Rivers several times a day. Come out and find out why wetsuits are called wetsuits. Jump in for a cool float and enjoy the best rollercoaster ride without rails.

6. Eat ice cream and gelato. Health Canada urges adults and especially children to be sure you get your minimum daily allowance of ice cream and gelato during hot summer days. Lots of places around to enjoy a double scoop of something sinful and help support the chilly folks who slave over cold freezers and injure their wrists chipping out frozen heaven all day.

7. Slow down, relax and enjoy watching the hot, scurrying tourists. Whistler is endowed with a multitude of patios, festooned with brightly coloured umbrellas, crackerjack servers, and a variety of cold adult beverages. And this summer, bonus: they’re open! 

8. Crash a pool. The best pools to crash include the Chateau, Aspens and probably—although I haven’t yet—the Westin. Actually the best pool is the nearest one to you. Put on a bathing suit and pretend you belong. Bring a book and use your gold card as a bookmark. Attitude is everything.

9. Bet a bartender you can spend 30 minutes in their beer cooler without raising a goosebump. They’re all sporting lads. It might cost you a twenty but you would have found some other foolish way to spend it on a hot summer day. 

10. Wait for the sunset. If you’re hard to please and none of these ideas appeal to you, just grump around until the sun goes down. The air cools off quickly, the patios fill up and sooner or later we all get a good night’s sleep. Just remember, the people in Winnipeg are sleeping in a pool of their own sweat these nights, poor misguided souls.

Keep cool.