An Eastbournian Abroad with Ashley McMillan: One remaining mountain

One mountain open, seasonal rain, rain, rain and the midweek feel of a ghost town at times. Still stunning, but welcome to Whistler in the ‘shoulder season’ when things can seem a little quiet around here.

Things are beginning to shape up around here though as winter is being forcefully wound down and I don’t just mean the weekend forecast of around 20C (what the hell is that all about – welcome of course but out of the blue!). The bike park is ever so slowly being uncovered, aided by the around the clock snowplough operation going on in some parts. Even the municipality gardeners have their electric salt / grit ‘mowing’ machines out busy clearing the humongous amounts of ‘winter dirt’ off from the green grass that has somehow evidently been growing under this winter carpet.

You can see it all around, the change that is. All but the die hard local skiers and boarders have semi-retired their winter equipment as they consider dusting down their two wheel steed or perhaps contemplate investing in their next toy ahead of the summer. The few tourists still rightly coming here for the spring snow manage to keep us true though.

Just because it’s been a long, long winter of excellent and abundant conditions that we are so frequently spoilt with, doesn’t mean that others aren’t excited about being able to lay down some great turns. Even this morning whilst walking into work I noted that there are a few patches of ground around the lower parts of the ski runs – at last I thought, it’s beginning to melt. Then it struck me….I can hardly believe just how much snow is still around at this time of the season. We’re into May and you can still ski out all the way to the village…just!

So, aside from the snow levels, what else is good around here? Well the huge variety of dining deals from most every noteworthy restaurant I want to eat at anyway. Yep, the quiet times of the year always mean there more of an excuse or at least more opportunity for the rest of us mortals to eat and sample the delights of some of Whistler’s finest establishments.

Great 3, 4 and even 5 course meals from anywhere from $29 (around 20 pounds) to $49 (33 pounds) served in award winning settings that would otherwise cost you a small mortgage. Some might argue that it’s almost an unbeatable and justifiable wallet opening timing for celebrating an anniversary...

Regretably the downside to this time of year is that too many friends and colleagues are preparing to depart for pastures new or old as they take off back to wherever they heralded from or perhaps onto the next adventure. This is the one issue many will have around these parts. Make new friends, only to see them leave you behind. This is the transient nature of Whistler and also what keeps it ticking. The staffing turnover may be high with each passing season, but every year there’s a new influx of ‘fresh blood’, talent and enthusiasm that’s perhaps not always displayed by some of us ‘old stagers’.

So as some mourn the death of one season and wave goodbye to friends new and old, we now have this opportunity to draw breath and take stock or a brief few weeks before the bike park opens and the sightseeing crowds and adventure enthusiasts return. This also means it’s time to think about pulling out those running shoes, bike tyres or perhaps your climbing crampons.

This unusually outdoors orientated and physically wealthy community will begin to think about the many, many sporting events that the warmer (not always drier) months already have lined up for us all. Yes indeed, yet another busy summer on its way… hopefully!