Skiing or riding in a rut (figuratively speaking that is)? Why not take things next level at Whistler – whether you’re an instructor upping their qualifications or an average Joe/Joelene who wants to be better, improvement programs at Whistler will help, says Trent Abberfield
As an Australian trained Ski Instructor, I decided to take my skiing and instruction to the next level and go to Whistler for three weeks. The course I chose was YES tours Level Two course. I was expecting a step up in terrain and skiing, what I was presented with was everything I expected and more.
Did I mention a step up?
I have been to Whistler multiple times before, but this is my first trip as an instructor. It’s huge! Just so big. The mountains are steeper, longer and the terrain is everything I had hoped it to be. Going to Whistler Peak on a bluebird day is a magic every skier should experience at least once in their lifetime.
The views are glorious. With the Level 2 group you can expect to be challenged. Peak to West Bowl was a heart stopper that’s for sure. The feeling of pure joy and exhilaration experienced by the students was amazing, huge smiles all round.
Steep drop in, followed by bumps. Lots of bumps. Upping your skills here is the ultimate thrill. The stoke level throughout the three weeks has been at a record high!
The Trainer Meesh was amazing, imparting his decades of knowledge upon us. Taking us on a tour of Whistler Mountain’s best on and off-piste terrain. Honing skills, both existing and newly acquired. Tweaking a bit here and a leg there. Leaving us drained but happy at the end of the week.
YES organise aprés events throughout the duration of the course to help you unwind and meet your course mates in a less formal setting. These are catered events and are part of the price, and fun, but just an aside for me. It’s the magic of Whistler and Blackcomb mountain tied together by the Peak to Creek Gondola, allowing an endless palate for your skiing creativity, that has my full attention.
The first two day on snow were powder days, with 15-20 cms of fresh dry powder, giving a pow starved Aussie a brief taste of the elusive light fluffy stuff.
This was during spring break in March. I had been told horror stories of lift lines halfway down the village and long waits. They were wrong, all of them. It’s been a brilliant few weeks here. Queues are not longer than you wait for Halley’s Comet at Falls Creek, the runs are not crowded, and if you’re a more advanced skier then they are non-existent.
Expect high prices here, and remember to tip your instructor, tipping here is everywhere.
As the days are warming up the bottom of the mountain is slushy spring snow, but the upper levels have held up brilliantly, with overnight freezes and the groomers working overtime. If you want some super-fast groomed snow, try Ptarmigan, or Dave Murray Downhill on Whistler, or head straight up to Jersey Cream or 7th Heaven in the morning and let those skis fly. I sure have been. If you have skinnier skis, bring them to enjoy the groomers at their best.
YES Improvement organise everything – accommodation, training with top level CSIA Instructors, aprés, everything. It’s a fantastic experience and PJ O’Heney and his YES crew are brilliant at what they do. They have decades of experience. They run Level One and Two instructor’s courses through the Canadian winter.
But for recreational skiers and boarders just wanting to have a great time and up their skills in the process, their classic 5 days Ski Improvement courses go from $CAD 800 CAD for the instruction component.
Epic Australia Pass holders get 10 days combined at Whistler, Vail and Beaver Creek, so you could use those all at Whistler and do 2 x improvement programs if you want. There are a handful of blackout dates, check the details https://www.epicaustraliapass.com.au/passes/epic-australia-pass-2022-faqs
If you want to learn how to go faster, higher, bumpier and just have more fun on the mountains, come check these courses out here at Whistler. I am so glad I did! I have gone faster and steeper than ever before here, with the help of not only my instructors here but also the other people on the course. Will, Bianca, Hugo, Luci thank you for making an older skier feel what it’s like to ski young again! Do yourself a favour and come over next season and have a ski with YES, you won’t be disappointed.
Footnote: everybody on my coures passed their CSIA Level 2 exams!
Tip: stop over in Vancouver and go check out the local hills there as well. Cypress, Grouse and Seymour are all loads of fun and can be skied at night. Go see a Canucks game at Rogers Arena too, if you want to watch something that makes footy (AFL or NRL) look like a teddy bear’s picnic.
*NB The author paid for all his travel & the YES program. If you’re heading to Falls this winter why not request a lesson with him?
For more on were to find the best lines at Whistler check our feature here: