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Whistler vs. Blackcomb: Which has Better Skiing?

So you’re going to ski Whistler Blackcomb.

Lucky you!

One of the best vacation spots in Canada, it consistently rakes in awards for also being one of the world’s top ski resorts.

If this is your first time skiing Whistler and Blackcomb, you probably want to know… Whistler vs. Blackcomb: Which of the two side-by-side mountains is best for skiing and boarding?

We can help.

We’ve lived most of our lives in the province of British Columbia (where the ski resort is located). And we’ve gone skiing at Blackcomb and Whistler umpteen times!

We’ve learned a thing or two about how you can enjoy a fabulous ski or snowboard day on these legendary mountains.

Surrounded by fabulous scenery, skiers take a break from skiing

Whistler vs. Blackcomb

Cool Whistler facts

  • Whistler Blackcomb is North America’s largest ski resort (by skiable terrain).
  • Blackcomb Mountain has the second highest vertical drop in the continent – an almost unrivaled 5,280 feet.
  • Many of the 2010 Winter Olympics games were held in Whistler – from alpine skiing and the biathlon to ski jumping, luge and skeleton.
Couple skiing at Whistler Blackcomb
Who’s keen to go skiing at Whistler Blackcomb?

Okay, you’ve made your ski trip packing list and you’re raring to go. But before we get into the nitty gritty, let’s just brag a little about how great the Whistler ski resort is.

For 2023, Ski magazine ranked it #5 of the top 30 ski resorts in Western North America.

It also took the #1 slot for best places to ski in the world in TripAdvisor’s “Traveler’s Choice Best of the Best” 2023 awards.

Readers of Conde Nast Traveler judged Whistler Blackcomb to be the #1 ski resort in North America in 2022.

And the British Telegraph newspaper rated it the best ski resort in the world in 2020.

You can cruise down 200+ ski runs (and go heli-skiing too), shred the gnar on six terrific terrain parks, stay at fabulous lodges and eat and drink at over 100 restaurants and bars.

In a word, the skiing and riding is epic! (As is the après ski…)

Here’s our guide to skiing and snowboarding at this awesome resort.

Snow in Whistler Village in winter
Whistler Village in winter

Whistler snowfall history

You’ll be jazzed to know that both mountains consistently record great dumps of snow.

The average Whistler Blackcomb annual snowfall is almost 38 feet a year.

Some years have been over-the-top.

More than 45 feet of the white stuff fell in the 2011-2012 season; a staggering 52 feet of snow fell the year before!

More recently, the 2021-2022 season welcomed more than 37 feet of snow.

Whistler Blackcomb is the biggest ski resort in North America.
In winter, you’ll discover acres and acres of beautiful snow at Whistler Blackcomb!

Whistler Blackcomb snow conditions by month

In terms of snow, if you’re looking for the best time for skiing Whistler Blackcomb, plan your ski vacay for November or January. These are typically the months with the most snowfall.

These are typically the months with the most snowfall.

The best November was in 2017, when a whopping 12 feet of snow fell.

Now November, 2021, saw almost 8½ feet of snow. Admittedly, that’s not as stupendous – but not bad for an opening month!

But look back to January, 2021, and you’ll see that over 11 feet of snow fell that month. The previous year (2020), January saw almost 16 feet of snow.

And, then, just toward the end of the spring skiing season in 2022, April surprised everyone very pleasantly with almost 6 feet of new snow.

So, really, any time in winter and spring is a good time to ski or snowboard here. You simply can’t go wrong choosing Whistler Blackcomb for a ski holiday!

Whistler weather history

For detailed Whistler snowfall and weather information by month and year, see this Tourism Whistler history and stats report.

Whistler snow forecast

See here for the Blackcomb and Whistler snow report, with current snow conditions and ski forecast.

Whistler ski lift tickets

With your lift ticket, you can ski Blackcomb and Whistler in the same day.
With your lift ticket, you can ski Blackcomb and Whistler in the same day

When you buy a ski ticket, it allows you to access all lifts and gondolas on the whole Whistler Blackcomb ski area.

You can buy 1-day Whistler ski tickets (for skiing or riding on a particular day) right up to 5-day lift tickets (to use any 5 days within an 8-day window).

See the Whistler Blackcomb site for online lift tickets, with complete ticket pricing and more information.

The number of lift tickets sold is limited, so it’s recommended that you book your lift tickets in advance.

Whistler Blackcomb ski lifts and gondolas

The combined number of lifts and gondolas is 32.

Whistler has 19. Blackcomb has 12 lifts and gondolas. And then there’s the Peak 2 Peak Gondola (covered below).

Together, they whisk up and away some 70,000 skiers per hour.

New lifts and gondolas

In 2019, Vail Resorts (which owns Whistler Blackcomb) invested $66 million in a massive upgrade, including two new lifts and the new 10-person Blackcomb Gondola.

And it’s going to get even better in future!

The big news is that over a dozen new chairlifts are being installed to further reduce wait times.

In particular, the 6-person Creekside Gondola at the base of Whistler Mountain will be swapped out for a high-speed, 10-person gondola.

And the Big Red Express quad will be replaced by a new high-speed, 6-person chair.

The $320 million upgrades should be finished by the end of 2022-2023 ski season.

Where to upload on the mountains?

The Whistler Blackcomb ski resort has four main locations where you can upload on the mountains:

Whistler Creekside Village

It has a large indoor free parking lot and is popular with locals driving up from Vancouver. The Creekside Gondola takes you up Whistler Mountain.

Whistler Village

If you’re staying in Whistler Village, you can upload via:

  • The Whistler Village Gondola (which takes you up Whistler Mountain)
  • The Excalibur Gondola (which goes up Blackcomb Mountain)
  • The Fitzsimmons Express (a short, 4-person ski lift which accesses easy green runs on Whistler Mountain)

Whistler Blackcomb Upper Village

From the Upper Village, the Blackcomb Gondola takes you up Blackcomb Mountain to the Rendezvous Lodge.

This 10-person gondola, by the way, is the highest-capacity gondola in North America, ferrying 4,000 skiers per hour.

Base II, Upper Village

In the Upper Village, you can also get on the Excalibur Gondola. While this gondola starts in Whistler Village, it slows down at Base II for unloading and uploading passengers.

Peak 2 Peak Gondola

The Peak 2 Peak Gondola is the first lift in the world to join two side-by-side mountains

Remember too that your lift ticket includes riding between both mountains on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola (or Peak to Peak Gondola).

So you don’t have to choose between Whistler or Blackcomb.

Your ticket gives you access to over 8,100 acres of skiable terrain on both Blackcomb and Whistler mountains.

Okay, now here’s the quick and dirty on Blackcomb vs. Whistler…

Whistler vs Blackcomb - both are great for skiing and snowboarding!
Whistler vs. Blackcomb – both are great for skiing and snowboarding!

Blackcomb Mountain

Blackcomb Elevation

Blackcomb has an elevation of 7,494 feet and a vertical rise of 5,280 feet.

Steeper terrain

Most people think Blackcomb is the more difficult mountain. Runs are generally steeper, and you’ll find lots of black diamond runs.

Blackcomb also has more tree runs and more cut trails than Whistler.

Best expert terrain?

If you’re an advanced skier, check out Spanky’s Ladder. Consisting of four bowls (Ruby, Diamond, Garnet and Sapphire), it’s riddled with chutes, cliffs and other fun stuff that gets extreme skiers drooling.

When it’s a white-out

In a snowstorm, Blackcomb is often easier to find your way down the mountain.

Best place for lunch

Christine’s on Blackcomb is the finest on-mountain spot for lunch (in our opinion) – a stylish restaurant for those who deem wine with their lunch an essential part of their day.

Local favorite

Locals tend to prefer Blackcomb.

Whistler Mountain

Whistler elevation

Whistler has a top elevation of 7,160 feet and a vertical rise of 5,020 feet.

Green runs

One main difference between Whistler and Blackcomb is that Whistler offers more green runs than Blackcomb. It’s thus better for beginner skiers.

And there are lots of green runs high up the mountain.

Best green run? Burnt Stew Trail – easy, mellow and in true alpine terrain.

Expert skiing

Yes, Whistler has more easy skiing.

But some of the steepest terrain in North America can also be pounded from the Peak Express chair lift, which climbs up to the summit of Whistler Mountain.

Alpine bowls

Whistler has more alpine bowls than Blackcomb. A local fave? Bagel Bowl off the top of the Peak Express.


It’s usually sunnier on Whistler Mountain in the mornings (that’s why Blackcomb is jokingly called “the Dark Side”).

And when the sun shines, Whistler offers spectacular views from the bowls!

Whistler or Blackcomb for beginners?

There are plenty of gentle slopes and learning areas at Whistler and Blackcomb mountains.
Both Whistler and Blackcomb mountains welcome newbie skiers and boarders

There are plenty of gentle slopes and learning areas at Whistler Blackcomb for beginners to test out their ski legs.

We’ve already mentioned that beginner skiers trying to choose between Blackcomb or Whistler will mostly want to hang out on Whistler Mountain.

For beautiful green terrain, the Burnt Stew trail is one of the best Whistler ski runs.

Another beginner-friendly place on Whistler Mountain is at the Olympic Station (mid-station up the Whistler Village Gondola).

The terrain at the Olympic Beginner Zone is gradual and gentle, with magic carpets and bermed areas.

It’s the perfect place to begin your skiing or riding journey. And as it’s fenced off, you don’t have to worry about people whizzing by you.

But don’t give up on Blackcomb!

Right at the base area of Blackcomb Mountain, the slow and beginner-friendly Magic Chair takes you to a great bunny hill.

At this learn-to-ski area, you’ll find a magic-carpet lift and another one of the best runs in Whistler Blackcomb for newbies – the Yellow Brick Road (short, wide and smooth).

Want to learn to ski? The adult ski school at Whistler will get you sliding down the slopes!
Want to learn to ski? The adult ski school will get you sliding down the slopes! (Credit: Whistler Blackcomb)

Best intermediate runs at Whistler Blackcomb?

Blackcomb wins.

Hit the Crystal Ridge Express. Intermediate skiers will find lots of lovely cruising blue runs like Ridge Runner off this high-speed quad chair.

And when it’s a sunny day with bluebird skies, there’s no better place to be than Seventh Heaven!

At the top of Blackcomb, it’s known for its long fall-line skiing, with great groomed slopes and exhilarating views.

Ski Whistler Blackcomb, and you'll be beaming like this too!
Ski Whistler Blackcomb, and you’ll be beaming like this too

Couloir Extreme Whistler

It was dubbed “one of the world’s most terrifying ski slopes” by Conde Nast Traveler.

Couloir Extreme on Blackcomb (renamed Saudan’s Couloir in 2017) is probably the most difficult of all Whistler Blackcomb runs.

It was once the site for the Saudan Couloir Race Extreme (named after extreme skier Sylvain Saudan).

It was where racers would do a backflip (or other ski trick) from the top then hurl themselves down the almost “2,500 vertical feet of thigh-burning hell.”

Try it if you dare!

Blackcomb Whistler ski tips

Take a free mountain tour

You can discover the mountains with a mountain host on a free orientation tour. Both Whistler and Blackcomb offer free mountain tours.

Pay for a lesson

It’s worth taking a lesson to try and improve your techniques. As a bonus, the ski or snowboard instructor will likely take you to a tucked-away area you might not find on your own.

Start early

Yes, there are four base locations from which you can start your Whistler skiing day. And you may not like to get up early.

But to avoid lift lines, aim to be up and out on the mountain before 8:30 am.

The winter daylight hours are short, and everyone is starting to head back down the mountains by 3:30 pm. So to maximize your skiing or snowboarding time, hitting the slopes early is the way to go.

Friends who have a second home in Whistler tell us they like to ski non-stop (maybe with just a short latte break) from 8:30 am to 1:00 or 1:30 pm or so. Then they have lunch after.

This way, they squeeze the most skiing out of their day. (Plus they still have leftover afternoon time for a spa treatment or to read.)

Whistler ski season

Whistler and Blackcomb boast a long ski season.

The mountains usually open for skiing and riding in late November.

The planned opening date for the 2023-2024 season is November 24, 2023. (They opened on November 24, 2022 for the 2022-2023 season.)

Whistler’s ski season then ends in April, but Blackcomb often continues with spring skiing until May.

And then it’s still not over, because Blackcomb Glacier is open for summer skiing in June and July. How cool is that!

Fancy skiing in your skivvies? Blackcomb Glacier is open in July and August.
Fancy skiing in your skivvies? Blackcomb Glacier is open in July and August

Whistler ski-in/ski-out hotels

For the best ski-in/ski-out hotels in Whistler, we’re partial to the following:

Fairmont Chateau Whistler

At the base of Blackcomb Mountain, the Fairmont Chateau Whistler offers 519 deluxe rooms and suites with mountain views.

The Fairmont Chateau Whistler with snow on the ground and trees lit with lights
The Fairmont Chateau Whistler looks quite magical when it snows! (Credit: Fairmont Chateau Whistler)

You can bump up the luxury factor by booking a Gold level room – perks include complimentary breakfast, cocktail canapés and evening desserts.

We especially love the resort’s 60-foot outdoor heated lap pool with underwater music.

Summit Lodge Boutique Hotel

Don’t want to blow a bundle on your Whistler hotel? No worries. The funky Summit Lodge Boutique Hotel has got you covered.

Recently refurbished, it features suites with kitchenettes. Guests love their deluxe hot chocolate happy hour and complimentary snowshoe rentals.

They offer complimentary ski shuttle too.

Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside

Located in Whistler Village, the 4-star Pan Pacific Mountainside has a prime location – literally just steps away from both the Whistler and Blackcomb Mountain gondolas.

Its 121 rooms have convenient kitchenettes and gas fireplaces.

Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler

For 5-star luxury, the Four Seasons Resort Whistler takes the prize for “best resort in Whistler.”

Outdoor pool and hot tubs, surrounded by snow-covered trees, at the Four Seasons Resort Whistler
The Four Seasons makes skiing in Whistler easy (Credit: Four Seasons Resort Whistler)

Located in Whistler’s Upper Village, it boasts Whistler’s largest guest rooms (all with fireplaces and balconies), along with a heated outdoor pool and three hot tubs.

The resort’s Ski Concierge takes the hassle out of lugging your gear.

Your skis are stored at the base of Blackcomb Mountain (by the gondola), a few minutes walk away from the resort. Or you can take the free shuttle to get there.

Getting to Whistler

If you’re flying, the best way to get to Whistler is to fly into Vancouver International Airport (YVR).

Whistler is about a 90-minute drive from Vancouver.

You can either rent a car in Vancouver and drive up yourself, or use the Whistler Shuttle. If you’re staying at a resort with easy access to the mountains, you won’t need a car.

Final thoughts on the Whistler vs. Blackcomb debate

To ski Whistler? Or to ski Blackcomb? Is one better than the other?

Toss up a coin. The debate is really academic. Some people prefer Whistler; others prefer Blackcomb.

We love both, depending on our mood.

But if we were forced to choose? We’d say Blackcomb is the better mountain and offers the best skiing. It’s the Dark Side for us…

We love Whistler in summer too!

Brandywine Falls: It’s an easy 10-minute walk through the forest to view the thundering 220-foot Brandywine Falls.

River of Golden Dreams: Paddling the River of Golden Dreams is pretty dreamy (it’s a must-do summer experience!).

Joffre Lakes: Want to see three gorgeous turquoise lakes? The Joffre Lakes hiking trail is rad.

Our top travel tips and resources

Hotels: is great for scoring a “wow” hotel – or at least a decent one. (We especially like their flexible cancellation policy!)

Vacation homes, condos and rentals: We prefer and use Vrbo (Vacation Rentals by Owner).

Tours: For the best local food, walking and other guided tours, plus skip-the-line tickets to attractions, check out Viator (a TripAdvisor company) and GetYourGuide.

Car rental: Renting a car is often one of the best ways to explore off the beaten path. Discover Cars searches car rental companies so you get the best rates.

Travel insurance: SafetyWing is designed for frequent travelers, long-term adventurers and digital nomads. It covers medical expenses, lost checked luggage, trip interruption and more. We also have and recommend Medjet for global air medical transportation and travel security.

Travel gear: See our travel shop to find the best luggage, accessories and other travel gear. (We suggest these comfy travel sandals for city walking, the beach and kicking about.)

Need more help planning your trip? Check out our travel tips and resources guide for airline booking tips, ways to save money, how to find great hotels and other crazy useful trip planning info.

Pssst! If you make a booking or purchase through our site, we may earn a small commission (at no cost to you). Thanks!

Hey, you can save this Whistler ski guide on Pinterest for later!

Whistler vs Blackcomb: Which has the best skiing?

About the authors

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George Mucalov are the publishers of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents. See About.

Find destination guides, global food-and-wine stories, luxury hotel reviews, articles on cultural explorations and soft adventure trips, cruise reviews, insanely useful travel tips and more!

Tom Dougherty

Monday 15th of May 2017

It's skiing and you're in the mountains. Cold is part of the adventure. I've been out in about -30 C...and loved it.


Wednesday 7th of December 2016

I haven't tried any one of these ski resorts yet, although a few years ago we were very close to going to Whistler. We always end up in Lake Tahoe, California, because it is much closer and the temperature is milder. I've heard that Blackcomb can get very cold.

Janice and George

Thursday 8th of December 2016

Blackcomb and Whistler are pretty mild - compared to, say, Sunshine and Lake Louise in Alberta. When we lived in Calgary and skied there, we would always freeze! Don't know how temps between Whistler/Blackcomb and Lake Tahoe compare though...


Tuesday 29th of November 2016

Gorgeous! Mountains out west are fantastic, would love to go skiing there sometime.


Janice and George

Tuesday 29th of November 2016

And it's not as cold as Sunshine and Lake Louise in Alberta :-). We used to ski there before moving to B.C. Brrrr!!!


Thursday 25th of October 2012

I've not done either, so I wouldn't be the best person to ask, but I hear nothing but amazing things about the powder in Whistler...

Janice and George

Thursday 25th of October 2012

You'd enjoy Whistler! Even non-skiers love Whistler in winter. Its pedestrian village is charming, with many top restaurants - not to mention the spas and other activities (e.g., bobsledding anyone?).