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Whistler or Blackcomb: Which has better skiing?

Please only travel when it’s safe to do so.

So you’re going to ski Whistler Blackcomb (in Canada).

Lucky you!

It consistently rakes in awards for being one of the world’s best ski resorts.

Whistler vs Blackcomb

The British Telegraph newspaper rated Whistler Blackcomb the best ski resort in the world for 2020.

Readers of SKI magazine ranked it #6 in the West in North America in the publication’s 2020 survey.

And readers of Conde Nast Traveler voted it one of the top ski resorts in the U.S. and Canada in 2019.

But if you’re a first-time visitor, you probably want to know one thing.

Whistler vs Blackcomb – which of the two side-by-side mountains is the best for skiing and boarding?

Whistler vs Blackcomb

Whistler vs Blackcomb

Whistler snowfall history:

Well, before we get into that, you’ll be jazzed to know that both mountains consistently record great dumps of snow.

The average snowfall is more than 38 feet a year.

Whistler Snowfall: There's tons of snow!

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 2017-2018 season welcomed almost 41 feet of snow.

In a word, the skiing and riding is epic!

You can’t go wrong choosing Whistler Blackcomb for a ski holiday. We know; we’ve skied there many times!

Whistler Weather History

For detailed snowfall information by month and year, see this Whistler Weather History and Stats page.

Whistler or Blackcomb
Acres and acres of beautiful snow!

Peak 2 Peak Gondola:

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.

Peak 2 Peak Gondola at Whistler Blackcomb
The Peak 2 Peak Gondola is the first lift in the world to join two side-by-side mountains (Credit: Whistler Platinum)

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

You can cruise down more than 200 awesome trails and shred the gnar on six terrific terrain parks.

Tip:  Discover the mountains with a mountain host on a free orientation tour.

Okay, now here’s the quick and dirty…

Whistler vs Blackcomb
Skiing at Whistler or Blackcomb – both are great!

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?

Spanky’s Ladder – consisting of four bowls (Ruby, Diamond, Garnet and Sapphire) – is 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 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 or Blackcomb skiing
Want to learn to ski? The adult ski school will get you sliding down the slopes! (Credit: Whistler Blackcomb)

Whistler Mountain

Whistler elevation:

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

Green runs:

Whistler offers more green runs than Blackcomb, so it’s better for beginner skiers. There are lots of green runs high up the mountain.

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

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.

Sunshine:

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 great views from the bowls!

Best intermediate runs at Whistler Blackcomb?

Blackcomb wins.

Hit the Crystal Ridge Express. You’ll find lots of lovely cruising blue runs like Ridge Runner off this high-speed quad chair.

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

Couloir Extreme Whistler

Dubbed “one of the world’s most terrifying ski slopes” by Conde Nast Traveler, Couloir Extreme on Blackcomb (renamed Saudan 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) – 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!

Whistler ski report

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

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

Whistler ski season

Whistler and Blackcomb boast a long ski season.

They usually open for skiing and riding in November. (They opened on November 26, 2020 for the 2020-2021 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

We love hiking in Whistler in summer too! The Joffre Lakes hike is rad!

The big Whistler news

The big news in the 2019 winter ski season was the massive $66 million investment to upgrade the resort – including two new lifts and a new 10-person gondola (now open). 

That gondola, by the way, is the highest-capacity gondola in North America, whisking 4,000 skiers per hour.

So the Blackcomb vs Whistler debate may be academic – because Whistler Blackcomb has become better than ever!

Beautiful BC Guide

Don’t miss our British Columbia Travel Guide!

It’s packed with lots of great info on unmissable destinations, wineries, secret places, cool things to do (like storm watching in Tofino!), epic hikes, taking the ferry between Vancouver and Victoria, the best time to visit and more!

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Whistler vs Blackcomb

About the authors:

Janice and George Mucalov

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

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

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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.

galanda23

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...

Frank

Tuesday 29th of November 2016

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

Frank

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!!!

Charu

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?).