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Explore spectacular Whistler

WINTER HOLIDAYS / SPECIAL ISSUE | FIVE REASONS TO ...

December 10, 2006|Eric Lucas

1. Time in the tube: Whistler/Blackcomb's tube park takes the childhood pastime and turns up the volume. The tubes at this British Columbian resort are tractor-tire-size; the vertical drop is 200 feet; adults reach speeds of more than 30 mph, but the run-out's straw bales guarantee a safe landing. The attendant will ask what kind of run you want. The correct answer: "As fast as possible."

2. Man's best friends: The most appropriate description for sled dogs is "eager." They just want to run, and passengers on the sleds they pull had best hang on tight and enjoy the rush. If you book a dogsled excursion in which you get to guide the sled yourself, pay close attention when they teach you how to work the brakes.

3. Blade runners: Rink skating -- round and round you go -- makes you loopy. Green Lake, at the upper, eastern end of Whistler Valley, is 3 miles long, clasped within towering glacier-clad peaks and swept free of snow by subalpine winds. The sheer freedom of skating in a straight line for miles is unsurpassed -- and hard to find anywhere near pomegranate pumpkin-seed-crusted roast lamb.

4. Sit down to ski: Top to bottom on Whistler/Blackcomb is 5,280 feet -- One Mile, as the resort's trail map puts it. There are 37 lifts, more than 200 trails, 8,171 acres and vistas that embrace some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in North America. And all you have to do to experience that is sit down -- on a sit-ski in the hands of the resort's Snow Limo guides. No need to learn about weight shifting or any of that bothersome downhill technique. Just wrap up, sit back and relax.

5. Sit down to dinner: Winter sports make you woolly-mammoth hungry, and Whistler's culinary community is up to the task. Half a dozen of the best fine-dining outlets in Canada top the list of resort restaurants. But the other end of the spectrum is equally well represented, with peerless hamburger, pizza and pub-food joints. There's even an excursion that blends gourmet and nonskier sensibilities: Snowmobile to Crystal Hut at the top of Blackcomb Mountain, partake in fondue, then wend your way back down beneath the alpine starscape.

-- Eric Lucas

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