We chose the perfect day to go up to the top of Blackcomb Mountain. My husband wanted to do the Peak 2 Peak Gondola tourist thing during our week in Whistler, BC, Canada. Apparently this gondola boasts as the world’s longest continuous lift system, almost 9 kilometers (5 miles), going from Blackcomb across to Whistler Mountain, and runs only during summer. Whistler was the site of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Just an hour north of Vancouver, but a world apart.
Late June was obviously summer, so we brought our golf clubs along for the trip. Yet we were mistaken. The feature activity during our stay was summer glacier skiing! We had no idea. Wrong gear we brought. We saw all these people with skis and snowboards heading up Blackcomb ski lift. The attendant at the bottom told us we had “tourist” tickets, not allowed up to the very top. Oh well, I tried. Up we went, passing two black bears below, a group of all terrain vehicles, a training pool for serious aerial skiers, and flower meadows slowly giving way to snow fields. Two lifts later and 4000 ft of elevation gain, we arrived at the tower for the Peak 2 Peak Gondola. Fantastic views. Whistler Village down below, lakes, rivers, golf courses were all in sight. A Blackcomb guide standing at the side approached us, started to persuade us toward the waiting shuttle bus, to go up the 7th Heaven Express for even greater views. Say no more, lady, you just granted me my wish! As if we had won the lottery ticket, we dashed off to the bus full of skiers and snowboarders, along with a handful of tourists, and off the bus went.
The 7th Heaven Express was an awesome ride, steep and long, snow everywhere. It was a gorgeous day, the sun was shining, and the peak was not in a cloud as it was usually. A number of tourists had on t-shirts and shorts only, thankfully there was no wind, but I bet they were more than a little cool. Up top, the glacier was buzzing with activities. Different setups for the daredevil skiers and snowboarders. A perfect lunch hut with picnic tables under the warm sun.
Visibility was almost infinite. The Whistler ski runs across the way, the surrounding Girabaldi Mountains, the Black Tusk and other volcanic plugs in the distance, sticking out like thumbs toward heaven. Spring snow melt leaves intricate patterns on mountain peaks, different from winter. The artistry from every angle was overwhelming. What a gift of beauty God has left for humanity. My heart opened wide. On this expansive scale, my life on Earth is unquestionably temporary, nothing but a joyous sightseeing journey. I was on top of the world, literally and figuratively. It was truly seventh heaven.
The ride back down was also an experience. The 7th Heaven Express started off steeper than 45 degrees at the top. And as skiers, we never ride the chair back down, facing outward. For a few seconds it was reminiscent of a zipline takeoff. But thankfully we were not accelerating with gravity, because the cable hung down almost half a mile, with no natural slow down points in sight. I wanted badly to document the precarious situation with a picture, but dared not take out my camera, lest my trembling hands would drop something into oblivion.
After that thrilling experience, the Peak 2 Peak Gondola was merely a tame cab ride. We found out the next day that glacier skiing is open only for a month. Regular skiing ended late May, glacier skiing started June 23, day after we arrived at Whistler, and lasts only until the end of July. With glaciers receding, this is predicted to exist for another year only. Last summer was cool enough to prevent further recession, last winter added lots of new snow, and hopefully this summer will be cool as well to keep this special activity alive.
If it runs again next year, you bet we will be back, with our skis ready. If you are looking to do something different, check it out.
Enjoy your seventh heaven,