50 YEARS OF GOING BEYOND

For over five decades, Whistler Blackcomb has left its mark on those who are drawn to the mountains. What started as a single Olympic dream in 1966 has evolved into the largest ski resort in North America, with a slew of accomplishments to back it up. From the resort's adventure-seeking founders to its freestyle heydays - and breaking Guinness World Records along the way - snowsport industry legends recount the contributions that Whistler Blackcomb has made to skiing and snowboarding and the significance of its golden anniversary. But while 50 Years of Going Beyond solidifies the resort's legacy in the past, there is no denying that the last 50 years is just the beginning.

Whistler Blackcomb: 50 Years of Going Beyond The Movie - 1965.66 - 2015.16
Presented by: Whistler Blackcomb and TELUS
Produced by: Switchback Entertainment, Whistler Blackcomb, and Origin Design & Communications

Learn more about Whistler Blackcomb's history at: http://www.whistlerblackcomb.com/50

Whistler Blackcomb – Then And Now (1965.66 vs 2015.16)

  • In 1965.66 Whistler had 100 employees.
    • In 2015.16 we had ~3,800
  • In 1965.66 Whistler Mountain had 4 lifts: a four-person gondola, a double chair lift called Red Chair and two T-bars.
    • In 2015.16, Whistler Mountain had 19 (plus PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola) including:
      2 high-speed gondolas
      1 high-speed 6-pack
      6 high-speed quads
      2 triple chairs 
      8 surface lifts
  • In 1965.66 Whistler Mountain had six marked ski runs, including Chunky’s Choice, Gondola Run, Franz’s Run, Pony Trail, Jimmy’s Joker and Ego Bowl.
    • In 2015.16, Whistler Mountain had over 100 marked runs and 4,757 acres
      1,925 hectares of skiable terrain.
  • In 1965.66 a half day ski lesson on Whistler cost $3.50 and you could get a private lesson for $8.50 per hour.
    • 2015.16 private lessons started at $119
  • In 1965.66 the mountain had only a small warming hut on top that "could hold maybe 20 people—so there was always a lineup to get in and get warm” according to Hugh Smythe.
    • In 2015.16 there were 6,540 restaurant seats in 17 restaurants over both Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains.
  • In 1965.66 there was between 20,000 and 30,000 skier visits
    • In 2015.16 there were 2 million+ annually.
  • In 1965.66 there was roughly 2000 acres, including the bowls that people could only hike to.
    • In 2015.16 there was 8,171 acres of lift accessed terrain spread across Whistler Blackcomb.
  • In 1965.66, the capacity of the original Creekside Gondola was 480 people per hour.
    • In 2015.16, the capacity of the Creekside Gondola was 2370 people per hour
  • In 1965.66 Creekside was the base area
    • In 2015.16 it was the Village – which has a bed capacity of 30,000 overnight visitors and saw more than 2.7 million visitors every year.

Events History

Testing oneself seems to be in skiers’ DNA, and the competition that played a huge role in the development of the sport was on high alert during the early days in Whistler—ski racing and the formalized shenanigans of the nascent freestyle era dominated early on, soon to be joined by snowboarding and modern freestyle, and then, when mountain biking became big, the various offshoots of that. Events at Whistler have become not only community fun, spectacle and national and international must-stops, but part of these sports’ progression and an economic lifeblood of the resort. From standard-issue to trend-setting, Whistler events have always been tops.

Other Stories:

  • Tyrol Ski Club’s annual Giant Slalom—the first race ever staged on the mountain
  • WSSF—World Ski & Snowboard Festival initially grow out of the World Technical Skiing Championships, which took place on Blackcomb Mountain in 1994. The first World Ski & Snowboard Festival as we know it was held in 1996 and it incorporated 22 sports events and competitions, including the World Technical Skiing Championships, the World Masters Alpine Open, the Westbeach Snowboard Classic, the Air Canada Whistler Cup, the Couloir Extreme Race, the World Ski Instructors Festival, Industry Week, and the Lifty Olympics.
  • Peak to Valley race—The Peak to Valley Race is the brainchild of legendary ski racer Dave Murray. His namesake, the Dave Murray Downhill, makes up a big part of the race. The popular Peak to Valley race has never been cancelled, even in 1991 when the entire mountain was shut down due to weather. While the organizers (including Dave Murray) wanted to cancel, the dedicated (or some might call crazy) racers refused and found a way to get to the top via snow cat or even hiking.
  • Couloir Extreme—Advertised in 1988 as “2,500 square feet of thigh burning hell,” the Saudan Couloir Ski Race Extreme was an infamous ski race held on Blackcomb Mountain starting in the spring of 1987. With the race dropping 2,500 vertical feet from the top of Couloir Extreme (then called Saudan Couloir), down to the bottom of Jersey Cream Chair, it went on to gain an international reputation as a classic extreme race. - Trish Odorico / Whistler Question
  • Crazy Canucks (sidebar) - The Crazy Canucks was a group of World Cup alpine ski racers from Canada who rose to prominence in the 1970s and '80s. Dave Irwin, Dave Murray, Steve Podborski, Jim Hunter, and Ken Read earned themselves a reputation for fast and seemingly reckless skiing in the downhill event.
  • Crankworx - Fuelled by annual fresh contest formats, serious prize purses, crowd-luring stunts and—most often—never-before-seen tricks on a series of mind-boggling features, this 10-day bacchanalia-on-bikes has become the ultimate mountain-bike über-event, spinning itself in a dozen short years into a three-stop world tour that now includes New Zealand and France. Thousands of raucous fans line the trails of the Whistler Mountain Bike Park and jam the village to cheer on the world’s top athletes in Enduro, Downhill, Whip-off, Fat-tire criterion and even action photography and filmmaking events. The weekend-to-weekend spectacle culminates with 30,000 spectators lining Skier’s Plaza and the lower apron of the Bike Park for the marquee Slopestyle, a discipline that began here and has come to define the sport globally. That’s not surprising given that Crankworx itself has grown into a mega-party that equals the long-running WSSF in terms of numbers and economic impact.
  • Canadian Freeskiing Championships—The Canadian Freeskiing Championships, which took place on Blackcomb through the late ’90s and into the new millennium, launched the careers of a new wave of international heroes whose names are forever tied to the resort: Jen Ashton, Aleisha Cline, Dana Flahr, Hugo Harrisson, Eric Hjorleifson, Jeff Holden, and Ian McIntosh, to name a few. The sport was changing fast in those days and, with many pros trying to reinvent themselves in the X Games era, the first CFS was the only place you’d ever see luminaries like World Cup racer Rob Boyd, ski-mountaineer Eric Pehota, and New School godfather Mike Douglas duking it out on the same big-mountain venue. Big-mountain freeskier Chad Sayers navigates a line in Blackcomb’s Ruby Bowl during a Canadian Freeskiing Championships in the mid 2000s.
  • Westbeach Classic - The Westbeach Classic snowboard contest first took place in 1989. Originally focused on a hand-dug halfpipe on Blackcomb, it grew to include a big-air contest in Whistler Village that attracted a crowd of 15,000. The Classic was famous for its parties—a magical mix of drinking, music, more drinking, hot tubs and occasional nakedness. In 1994, the Westbeach Classic became part of an even bigger end-of-season party: the World Ski & Snowboard Festival. Rider Kevin Young airs it out during the 1992 Westbeach Classic.
  • Whistler Cup - Started in 1993, the Whistler Cup— involving 400 racers 11–14 years of age from more than 20 countries, plus 150 coaches and 300 volunteers—is the only international children’s ski race in North America. A welcoming party segues to four days of Super G, Giant Slalom, Slalom and Kombi racing, followed by national team dinners every night. The country with the best overall results wins the cup.
  • 1967 Whistler hosted its first international ski race, Du Maurier Invitational.
  • 1975 The Dave Murray Downhill run(named later) hosted more than 10 World Cup events starting in 1975.
  • 1976 Whistler hosted its first World Cup competition and attracting the world’s top downhill racers.
  • 1987 The never-to-be-repeated Sextathalon that took place in 1987 on Blackcomb was the brainchild of ski patroller and future three-term mayor Hugh O’Reilly. The two-day, unsanctioned event intended to crown the valley’s best skier involved six disciplines: a dual pro slalom, moguls, a Super G, a massive gelandesprung jump, an inferno downhill, and what may have been the world’s first freeskiing contest. Jordan Williams, racer, ski club coach, and the man for whom the infamous Air Jordan drop on Whistler was named, took the Grand Prix title.
  • 1989 Whistlerite Rob Boyd won the World Cup on this home mountain. He was the first Canadian male to win a World Cup Downhill event on Canadian soil at Whistler, British Columbia.

2010 – Olympics!

At the 1960 Winter Olympic Games in Squaw Valley, Calif., Sidney Dawes, Canada’s rep to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), sold journalists on the idea that British Columbia could host a future Games. That spring, a group of Vancouver businessmen led by Franz Wilhelmsen formed the Garibaldi Olympic Development Association (GODA). On March 3, 1960, Dawes and others flew by helicopter over parts of Garibaldi Provincial Park, eventually landing at London Mountain near the town of Alta Lake. All looked good with snow measurements and potential road access, so London Mountain it would be. Subsequently commissioned engineering studies recommended the site be developed. In 1961, GODA bid to secure Canada’s nomination to host the 1968 Winter Games, but lack of regional development and highway access saw Banff favoured by the Canadian Olympic Committee. In 1965, GODA bid for the 1972 event, but Banff was again Canada’s choice. In 1968, with a more refined and realistic bid, Vancouver/Garibaldi got the Canadian nomination for 1976. Unfortunately, Montreal would win its pending bid for the 1976 Summer Games, and the IOC wouldn’t award both to the same country. Finally, on July 2, 2003, projected on a large TV screen in Village Square, thousands of cheering Whistlerites heard the news they’d waited so long for: The now world-renowned resort would, along with Vancouver, host the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

Whistler Blackcomb 50th Anniversary:
Fun Facts / Did You Know

How Did The GLC, Whistler Blackcomb’s Legendary Après Bar, Get Its Name?

1960, Nov 21 Garibaldi Lift Company was incorporated and headed by President Franz Wilhelmsen. The goal was to develop the Ski Area on Whistler Mountain.

DID YOU KNOW: Creekside Is Where It All Began?

1960, Nov 21 Garibaldi Lift Company was incorporated and headed by President Franz Wilhelmsen. The goal was to develop the Ski Area on Whistler Mountain. GLC proposed to lease the northern part but that was rejected as mining claims were already staked. This forced GLC to move their plans to the southwest side, today known as Creekside.

  • 1978 GLC announced the expansion onto the northern flank of Whistler Mountain by three new lifts – The Whistler Village side. When did construction of the Village start?
  • 1980 When Blackcomb Mountain opened, Whistler Mountain directly responded by building the Village Chair as well as developing a whole new network of runs on its northern flank. A 10 person Village Gondola renewed the Village Chair in 1988. All towers and the complete structure remained in the same location until today, only the cars were replaced in 2014 by new 8 passenger cabins.

DID YOU KNOW: Highway 99 exists because of Whistler?

1964 HW99 was started and eventually paved to Whistler in 1966 and to Pemberton 1972. Pemberton and GLC worked together to get the government to put in a road from Squamish. A gravel road, originally the Hydro service road was built and it was extremely rough and very hard on cars.

What Lifts Were There When Whistler First Opened?

1965 A four-person gondola manufactured by the Swiss company, Mueller Lifts Ltd., to the mid-point of the mountain, a double chair lift called Red Chair to the upper tree line, which were both active until 1992, and two T-bars on the top part and a Valley T-bar were installed.

DID YOU KNOW Whistler Blackcomb joined the mile high club in 1985?

1985 By installing 7th Heaven T-bar Blackcomb became North America’s only “Mile High Mountain”

DID YOU KNOW: The Original Roundhouse Was Actually Round?

1966/67 Ski season, the Roundhouse Restaurant opened for skiers. Plus the construction of the Blue Chair and additional trail clearing enhanced the operation. This was possible as GLC was very successful and reinvested the profits.

DID YOU KNOW: Whistler Mountain Had Six Marked Runs When It First Opened?

  • Chunky’s choice for director Chunky Woodward
  • Gondola Run
  • Franz’s Run after Franz Wilhelmsen
  • Pony Trail as a Pemberton team of packhorses delivered supplies because the high fire hazard made the area not accessible by for vehicles and helicopters
  • Jimmy’s Joker
  • Ego Bowl

DID YOU KNOW?

Whistler Blackcomb’s Terrain Parks & Pipes have always been on top. Since 1996, 29 top three awards from major snowboard magazines such as Transworld Snowboarding and Snowboard Canada have been awarded.
Just interested in watching?  Catch the world’s best skiers and snowboarders in action from the comfort of the Catskinner chairlift as it passes over the Highest Level Terrain Park.

DID YOU KNOW?

Showcase Snowboards, established in 1989, is the oldest snowboard shop in Whistler and hosts legendary parties each year during Whistler’s many events.

DID YOU KNOW?

Whistler Black Bear Project
In a three month period in the summer of 2005 black bear researcher Michael Allen and guests observed 28 bears 528 times during the Bear and Wildlife Tours offered on Blackcomb Mountain.

DID YOU KNOW?

Glacier camps are a big draw, especially for up and comers aspiring to break into the world of professional skiing and riding.  With up to 1,000 campers and coaches ascending the glacier each day it is the ultimate scene, a place where the latest tricks are dialed and fashion statements are made. 

DID YOU KNOW?

Blackcomb allowed boarders in 1988 and Whistler allowed them two years later.

DID YOU KNOW?

Dusty’s is named after a stuffed horse that took up residence in the bar in the early 1980’s. Dusty became a pawn in the intense rivalry between Whistler and Blackcomb ski patrols, turning up at the top of the mountain, dragged back down behind a snowmobile, only to have it happen all over again. The pranks with Dusty went on for years, even spawning an RCMP rescue effort from a river, and culminated in the horse being left on top of a Blackcomb Mountain lift tower before she was cremated to end the shenanigans.

DID YOU KNOW?

In 1966, a half day ski lesson on Whistler cost $3.50 and you could get a private lesson for $8.50 per hour. Today, Whistler Blackcomb has one of the largest Snow Schools in the world.

History of Names

How Did Whistler Mountain Get Its Name?

Although originally named London Mountain by British Capt. Mayne, the mountain had always been nicknamed by the local residents, Whistler, because of the sound the Marmots make.

How Did Blackcomb Mountain Get Its Name?

The name seems to have been derived from the rooster’s comb-like appearance, when looking from the Rainbow Lodge area on the south side of Alta Lake.  The rocks are black in summer.

How Did The Ski Runs At Whistler Blackcomb Get Their Names?

  • Chunky’s Choice – named for Chunky Woodward, one of the mountain’s first directors/investors who preferred this run over all others
  • Franz Run - It was Franz Wilhelmsen’s favourite path up the mountain in the days before the lifts were built.  Franz was Whistler Mountain’s founder and president until 1983
    • Olympic events held on this run
  • Pony Trail - In the summer of 1965, Stephen Ples and a Pemberton team of packhorses delivered supplies because the high fire hazard made the area not accessible for vehicles and helicopters
  • Jimmy’s Joker - labelled when a logging crew member, sent to flag trees for cutting the run that would eventually be called Franz’s, got lost in the fog and cut a whole different run.
  • Seppo’s – the run under the Village Gondola is named for Seppo Makinen, a Finnish logger who cut runs on Whistler for 16 years.
  • Fisheye - Groomers named it such for a long, low jump that was once at the head of the run.
  • Pig Alley - Ski patrol came up with the name of the run, which served as a shortcut from Whiskey Jack to Ego Bowl, because “Pig” was the nickname of its first skidoo, a pig of a machine that always got stuck.
  • Burnt Stew - The alpine run got its name when Florence Petersen, Kelly Forster and Don Gow hiked into the area in August 1958, put dinner on while enjoying a cocktail, and burned it.
  • Bagel Bowl - was the preferred piste of former mountain president Lorne Borgal—affectionately called the “Lone Bagel.” Lorne Borgal who was the president of WB from 1982-85.
  • In Harmony Bowl, “McConkey’s” honours “Diamond” Jim McConkey.
  • The VD Chutes aren’t named for an affliction, but because they’re Very Delightful.
  • Dave Murray - Original Crazy Canuck, one of the most popular and personable ski personalities Canada has ever produced.  He was one of the four original Canadian skiers referred to as the Crazy Canucks - Dave Read, Steve Podborski, Dave Irwin and Dave Murray. Dave was from Abbotsford but skied for the Whistler ski team prior to being named to the Canadian Ski Team.  After retiring in 1982 from the team, he joined Whistler Mountain as Director of Skiing and created a series of events and programs targeting "mature" skiers (Dave Murray Camps, Masters races, Peak to Valley Race).  Dave passed away in 1989, after a valiant fight with cancer.  The run was named in his honour in 1990. Dave Murray Run has seen a number of World Cup Downhills and Super G races over the past 20 years. 
    • Olympic events held on this run
  • Xiggy's Meadow - named after Peter Xhignesse who was an avalanche forecaster on Blackcomb (1980 season)
  • Ego bowl – a pleasant run that gives your ego a lift
  • Whisky Jack - named after the birds that are familiar to the Whistler area - usually seen in the vicinity of our outdoor patios!  (Watch your food or the Whisky Jacks will fly away with it!)
  • Horstman Glacier – Named after Henry Horstman who arrived in the valley in 1913 from Kansas.  He staked mineral claims near Alta Lake.  His mine and cabin are still visible at the 5000 ft. level of Sproat Mountain.

Innovation
(Things That Were Done First In Whistler)

You saw it here first, folks!

Avalanche Control - In Whistler’s early days, everything was an experiment, and no greater laboratory presented itself to the mad scientists of mountain management than the area of avalanche control. With too few skiers in the alpine to properly compact snow, patrollers also had to mitigate larger slides than today. Early avalanche control involved a lot of head-scratching and ski-cutting before schlepping hand-charge bombs around entered the picture. Then, with Jim McConkey operating heli-skiing with an Okanagan helicopter parked right at Whistler’s base, a solution to speedier mountain openings presented itself to the ever-visionary Hugh Smythe, and Whistler became the first ski area on the continent to drop avy bombs from a chopper. Likewise, Smythe positioned the area as integral to development of the avalauncher gun. Europe and the United States largely fired artillery for avalanche control, but in Canada only the army could fire artillery, limiting its use to highways. The avalauncher gun used compressed nitrogen to fire bombs and had the advantage of being cheaper because the explosive projectiles were in current production while artillery relied on army surplus. “In the early days, we didn’t have lift access to the top. So we’d fire an avalauncher for protection, then put on climbing skins to hike up with explosives in our backpacks,” recalls Anton Horvath, a 25-year Avalanche Forecaster on Whistler Mountain. “It was very time consuming. Using a helicopter sped up the process tenfold. It saved us days.” These days, Whistler Blackcomb patrollers monitor 200 separate slide paths, controlling them with helicopters and avalaunchers, as well as detonating up to 7,000 hand-charge explosives each winter.

Mile High Resort - The T-bar installed for the 1985/86 season on the south-side sector of Blackcomb Mountain, known as 7th Heaven, was the largest alpine expansion in Canadian history, a game-changer that realized Blackcomb’s true potential as a massive, big-vertical mountain. Blackcomb visionary Hugh Smythe was also doing other things right, winning the public relations war with a customer-service culture that delivered an outstanding total experience and outshone neighbouring Whistler in everything from parking to food. It was enough to convince Intrawest’s Joe Houssian to buy out Aspen Ski Co.’s 50 per cent share in 1986, bringing big real estate, big capital and big plans into the picture. When the 1987/88 season dawned with an on-mountain restaurant and base expansions, a T-bar on Horstman Glacier, and three new high-speed detachable quads—Wizard, Solar Coaster and 7th Heaven—Blackcomb took off, experiencing the largest single-season increase in skier visits ever recorded in North America—250,000 or 76 per cent, doubling revenue, doubling employees and surpassing Whistler to host 54 per cent of the entire resort’s skiers.

Power Smart - In 2009, the Fitzsimmons Creek Renewable Energy Project came online, producing 33 gigawatt hours of electricity each year—enough to power the entire resort. Visible below the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola on the creek between Whistler and Blackcomb, the project is co-owned by two independent energy companies with Whistler Blackcomb as strategic partner. The power created is sold back to B.C. Hydro and onto the province’s grid. Other power initiatives include replacing 11,000 light bulbs with energy-efficient units, and a low-energy snowmaking system that has saved more than 800,000 kWh of elec - tricity. As part of a B.C. Hydro project, 15 senior Whistler Blackcomb staffers create an annual energy conservation plan whose quarterly progress is reported to the utility.

Lifts & Gondolas - 1965 the gondola and the lifts were built by the Swiss company Mueller Lifts, Zurich. The 4-passenger gondola was the first in the province of BC. The PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola linking the two mountains opened in December 2008, and officially owns two entries in the Guinness Book of World Record: height above ground for a cable car (436 m), and longest unsupported span between two towers (3.024 kilometres).

Whistler Blackcomb’s Development

Full History of the Lift Installations / Terrain Opening / Runs Opening

  • 1965 A four-person gondola manufactured by the Swiss company, Mueller Lifts Ltd., to the midpoint of the mountain, a double chair lift called Red Chair to the upper tree line, which were both active until 1992, and two T-bars, T-bar I on the top part and a Valley T-bar were installed.
  • 1966, Jan 15 the department of commercial transport certified to operate the lifts and Whistler Mountain was open. But unofficially Whistler Mountain opened for skiing just before Christmas 1965.
  • 1966, Jan 15 the officially opening ceremony of Whistler Mountain was held at the base of the mountain. Runs were named:
    • Chunky’s Choice for director Chunky Woodward
    • Gondola Run
    • Franz’s Run after Franz Wilhelmsen
    • Pony Trail as a Pemberton team of packhorses delivered supplies because the high fire hazard made the area not accessible by for vehicles and helicopters
    • Jimmy’s Joker
    • Ego Bowl
  • 1966 Blue Chair a double lift from today’s bottom of Harmony to the top of Emerald started running in 1966 until its removal in 1995.
  • 1966/67 Ski season, the Roundhouse Restaurant opened for skiers. Plus the construction of the Blue Chair and additional trail clearing enhanced the operation. This was possible as GLC was very successful and reinvested the profits.
  • 1968 The Valley T-bar was relocated, and a new T-Bar 2, which still runs alongside T-Bar 1, was installed.
  • 1968 A new double Green Chair 1 was installed and lengthened two years later. Alongside of it a new one, called Green Chair 2 came to life in 1975. Both Green Chairs were replaced by only one quad chair lift in 1989, which was itself replaced by today’s quad Emerald Express in 1997.
  • 1972 The two-person Olive Chair lift was created alongside the Creekside Gondola, and was replaced in 1992 by the Quicksilver Express Quad Chair. Quicksilver was shut down in 1995 and replaced by the 6-person Creekside Gondola that has been running since.
  • 1972 The double chair lift, Orange Chair, ran from the top of the Creekside Gondola up to the Roundhouse until 2009.
  • 1978 The Red Chair got a little brother called Little Red Chair on its right side that was a bit shorter. It was removed in 1992, but Franz’s triple chair came up in the same place six years later.
  • 1978 GLC announced the expansion onto the northern flank of Whistler Mountain by three new lifts.
  • 1980, Dec 6 Blackcomb Mountain opened for business.
  • 1980 Blackcomb Mountain opened with 5 chairs, including Fitzsimmons, a triple chair that ran from the Village to Base 2, replaced by today’s Excalibur Gondola in 1994. Skidder was located were the current Tube Park area is. Cruiser, a triple chair, covered the second section of today’s Excalibur Gondola. Cat Skinner still runs today. Choker was replaced in 1994 by the quad Excelerator Express that is still in use today.
  • 1980 When Blackcomb Mountain opened, Whistler Mountain directly responded by building the Village Chair as well as developing a whole new network of runs on its northern flank. A 10 person Village Gondola renewed the Village Chair in 1988. All towers and the complete structure remained in the same location until today, only the cars were replaced in 2014 by new 8 passenger cabins.
  • 1980 Whistler Mountain built the Olympic Chair and the Black Chair to develop the new network of runs on its northern flank. The Olympic Chair was shortened nine years later and has remained the same since. Removed in 1999, the Black Chair covered the area from the top of Olympic Chair up to Roundhouse for 19 years.
  • 1982 Only two winters after opening the mountain, Blackcomb established Jersey Cream a 2-person chair, which was replaced by the current quad version in 1989.
  • 1985 When Blackcomb installed its alpine 7th Heaven T-Bar it opened up a new area offering immense above tree line skiing including four powder bowls and wide open glacier skiing.
  • 1985 By installing 7th Heaven T-bar Blackcomb became North Americas only “Mile High Mountain”
  • 1986 One year after Blackcomb had installed its Alpine 7th Heaven T-bar to become North Americas only “Mile High Mountain”, Whistler Mountain responded with a high alpine triple chair lift, called Peak Chair.
  • 1987 To keep up with Whistlers Peak Chair, Blackcomb removed the old 7th Heaven T-bar and has built a new 7th Heaven Express, a 4-person Chair, running along a complete new and longer lift line that is still in use today.
  • 1987 A learning area for beginners on Blackcomb was accessible by the Magic Chair, which has been replaced by the current triple chair version in 1994.
  • 1987 Skiing on the Horstman Glacier is possible with the same-named T-bar which is still in operation. Additionally, faster mountain access directly from the Blackcomb base has been provided by the high-speed quad chairs Wizard Express and Solar Coaster Express.
  • 1988 The high-speed ten-passenger gondola Whistler Express was installed.
  • 1989 Blackcomb expanded further by implementing the new triple Crystal Chair lift and the Showcase T-bar. Both T-bars, Horstman and Showcase, doubled the summer glacier skiing capacity.
  • 1992 Redline Express Quad became the new version for the Red Chair and Little Red Chair and was itself replaced by the current Big Red Express in 1997.
  • 1992 Blackcomb came up with the current version of the quad Glacier Chair.
  • 1993 The first actual half pipe was built completely out of snow above the Solar Coaster, while three hand-built jumps on the way to the pipe made up the terrain park.
  • 1994 The half pipe on Blackcomb was shaped in the dirt and new machinery was being developed to shape the pipe.
  • 1995 With the new Harmony Express Chair Whistler Mountain offering new terrain spanning from the edge of the Symphony Amphitheatre all the way over to Glacier Bowl and down to the Peak Express. This area now known as the Harmony Zone provides a wide variety of beginner to expert terrain.
  • 1997 Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains merge operations to become one company, Whistler Blackcomb.
  • 1998 One year after the merge of Whistler and Blackcomb, a new quad Peak Express that is still in use today replaced the 12 years old 3-person Peak Chair.
  • 1999 Shortly after modernizing the Whistler Peak access, two new quad chair lifts, the Fitzsimmons Express and the Garbanzo Express, were installed to allow easier access from the Village up via the mid-station to the Chic Pea Hut.
  • 1999 – Bike Park opens
  • 2004 After many riders explored the same backcountry area, Whistler Mountain added 1,100 acres as so called 'inbounds backcountry' terrain including Flute Bowl and Peak2Creek ski runs to make this terrain safer.
  • 2005 Whistler Blackcomb upgraded the terrain parks on both mountains and created a new super pipe on Blackcomb for the Snowboard World championships in 2005.
  • 2005 A new high-speed quad chairlift, today’s Symphony Express, was added on the Whistler side. It has provided a whole new beginner and intermediate terrain around Symphony Bowl and a closer access to the top of Flute Bowl.
  • 2005 Whistlers Peak Chair opened for hiking and sightseeing and the plan was to build more interlinking trails with Garibaldi Provincial Park.
  • 2008 The new world class PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola opened. The gondola has the world record for unsupported span (3.024 kilometers). With its 436 meters above the valley floor it is the highest lift of its kind in the world as well.
  • 2013 the quad chairs of the former Harmony Express were re-used to build the Crystal Ridge Express, which replaced the old Crystal Chair. The new chair follows a longer lift line, which increased the capacity to the Crystal Zone.
  • 2014 A high-speed six-person chair lift was installed at Harmony to dramatically improve the uphill capacity by 50 percent.

*All information courtesy of Diana Caputo, Whistler Museum Volunteer

Interactive Timeline

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