Bum a cup of kick ass from our North American neighbor. Vancouver is waiting next door to rock your body with the unknown monstrosities of Whistler Blackcomb. Marvel at the mountains from the kushy comfort of a cafe, then throw yourself into the scene with OTP’s list of adrenaline-racing adventure sports in Vancouver.
Trails are for followers. Carve your own path down the mountain through fresh powder snow, steep overhanging slopes and tree glades galore while avoiding snotty tourists practicing their pizza-wedge technique. In luxurious style and speed, a chopper will fly you up to the mile-high+ peak, leaving just you and a small crew to take on the snow. In your own land of peace and white, your off-trail explorations can extend to well over an hour–there’s sort of a king-of-the-mountain cockiness that inspires enthusiastic arm raises à la Rocky IV. Huge thrills brings a big price tag; around $800 no matter where you book. Fortunately there’s an alternative called “cat skiing”. Coming down is all the same but instead of making the ground shake upon arrival, you’ll be crawling up in a snowcat. A bit more domesticated, the cat costs three to four hundred bucks less than the ghetto bird.
Mush the day away behind a team of loyal huskies until the moon hugs the mountains. Fuck planes, trains and automobiles; dog-sledding is the original way of Canadian exploration and the only Dos Equis certified method of transport in and around British Columbia. Exhilarating and peaceful, stuff a few dookie bags in your pocket, grab a friend and answer the call of the wild on Whistler for $300 total.
Count to three and don’t second guess your last step. Bungee jumping is the easiest way–save the use of a defibrillator–to pump your heart back into action. 160 feet over the Cheakamus River, if you can conjure up the lung strength, the fall will have you screaming all sorts of mid-air obscenities. Your emotions purge after the big drop as you swing back and forth in complete content, sometimes gracing the flowing water of the river below within an eager arm’s reach. Not nearly as scary as the jump, the price is $130 (free t-shirt) and $80 for every following jump for the rest of your life. For the half-assers, you can jump tandem with a friend or switch your harness from ankle to pull-up position or around your chest to secure those shit-scared shivers.
Get a superman view of Whistler with its ZOOM and Ziptrek ecotour adventures. Cool guides spit out facts about the local ecology along the trail while you anxiously await the next zip from A to B at around 50 MPH between distances that reach 2000 feet! This means that you’ll have almost a minute of high-flying action. The cheapest tour is $89 but combining two treks in succession, the “Mammoth Tour” (aka the one you want) runs for $199 and gives you a lunch in between five hours of flying through the valley.
OTP Tip: Pair your ticket in a “Peak to Peak” package for an additional $30 and get unlimited access to the world’s tallest (like 5 football fields) and longest (at almost 3 miles) gondola spanning the distance between the Whistler and Blackcomb mountains.
Plow through the backcountry by way of snowmobile. Like quadding, snowmobiling is the easiest, fastest and cheapest way to blaze through otherwise inaccessible land. You can rent one and do your own thing, but guided tours help you to become one with the mountain. The Adventure Group at Whistler will show you the way, give you food and free time to cruise in its 3-hour tours starting at $99. You’ll ride on frozen lakes, blaze through old growth forests, hit jumps if you promise not to crap yourself and even stop for a sunset view. Ride the mountain as hard as you want and don’t worry about messing up its mojo–the dudes at Whistler blow up strategical spots almost every morning as a form of avalanche control...y’know, so the mountain doesn’t fight back.
Where to Stay
The Whistler is the head honcho of all things mountainous and has been dishing out the most extreme adventures for over 100 years. Dodge the tourist-trap prices of swanky slope-side hotels and stay at the Samesun Backpacker Lodge in the busy Granville area of Vancouver. You’ll feel right at home with other backpackers and the Samesun staff puts together packages and cuts crack-coke deals on all your adventurous desires. The thriving life of bars, clubs and restaurants in or around the lodge pairs well with the seclusion of Whistler (which is an hour and a half Moose bus ride away). Any place with a Beaver Lounge gets our vote.
Vancouver is a rare breed of city that offers the ups of urban living and the thrills of nature practically a driveway away. Its mountain ranges, with some of the best winter action in the world, demand attention and spill adventure from every angle. Hop the border and take advantage of this continental colossus.