Starting Friday, mountain bikers and hikers will have more terrain available to them when they upload Whistler Blackcomb’s (WB) lifts this summer.
The Whistler Mountain Bike Park’s Creekside zone will be open for business as of July 17, the mountain operator announced Wednesday.
“We talked about when we first reopened in the summertime, that if we found opportunities to be able to open more, we would do that,” said Marc Riddell, Vail Resorts’ West Coast director of communications.
“In terms of the bike park, we think [opening more terrain] is really going to spread people out around the mountain more, and we’re actually going to be able to enforce more of the physical distancing that we introduced when we opened the bike park two weeks ago.”
WB opened for summer operations on June 29, after shutting down for the winter in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially, available bike park terrain was limited to the Fitz and Garbanzo zones, while the Whistler Village Gondola, Peak 2 Peak Gondola and Blackcomb Gondola opened to shuttle hikers and sightseeing guests up the mountain.
The Creekside zone in particular is known for its flowy terrain, featuring an abundance of berms and technical trails better suited to advanced riders, Riddell noted.
“It's going to be a good offering to complement what we have in Fitz and Garbo right now,” he said.
The Creekside bike park’s opening hours are currently posted as 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
While WB’s bike school remains on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, those interested can begin booking private mountain bike lessons as of July 17.
After previously stating that kids’ DFX camps will not be running this summer, WB also announced this week that the popular program will in fact return on July 20, but will only be available to residents of the Sea to Sky corridor.
“That was important for us because we know a lot of people in the area rely on that as child care,” Riddell said.
The program will have a few additional physical distancing restrictions this summer, including limiting groups to a minimum of three and and maximum of five riders. All participants must wear a face covering, like a buff or a mask, in addition to their helmets and goggles while riding lifts. All groups will meet outside, and parents will not be permitted to enter any WB buildings during drop off. To that end, program participants should be prepared to spend the vast majority of their time—including lunch—outdoors, weather permitting.
The opening of the Creekside zone for riding will also coincide with the reopening of Dusty’s. However, it won’t be a return to normal for the WB-owned bar, explained Riddell.
With no hot food available, food and beverage options will be restricted to grab-and-go options like sandwiches, while seating will be limited to the patio. Beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages will be available for purchase. Can-Ski’s Creekside location will also reopen for business, but will limit its operations to retail only—no bike rental or bike services will be available.
Sightseeing will not be available from the Creekside base. Parking will be available in the first two levels of the Creekside underground lot, while levels 3 and 4 will remain closed. Visitors will find Creekside’s guest services located in Can-Ski beginning on Friday, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Following the Blackcomb Ascent trails recent reopening to visitors, the mountain’s Overlord alpine hiking experience is also opening back up to foot traffic in the coming days.
“We started with a small footprint, because we knew that's what we could deliver on,” Riddell said. “We always want to push it here in Whistler. But we were measured, and we were cautious about it, and we were able to operate in a manner that, you know, for the most part I think people were just happy that we were able to open. And they've been great, in terms of following the safety protocols, like physical distancing in the mazes … people get it.”
The opening of Overlord isn’t the only change to Blackcomb Mountain’s alpine area this summer: WB announced this week that it’s decided to remove the longstanding Horstman T-bar lift.
“Over time, the Horstman Glacier’s profile has changed to the point the Horstman T-bar became inoperable and required us to remove it,” said a WB spokesperson in a statement on Tuesday, July 14.
“The Showcase T-bar is in a better location and will continue to service the glacier for both summer and winter. We are looking forward to welcoming skiers and riders for the winter season, several months away, and our intent is to be back to summer glacier skiing in 2021.”