Have you ever had someone look you in the eyes and ask “Do you want to come skiing?” A variation of this is floating on the internet, but at the end of the day, the sentiment is the same. As a black woman who did not grow up around snow, my inclination was to say…”nah, I’m good”. But the Johnny Tsunami in me said, “Yes” once, and I haven’t looked back! I’ve been all over the west coast to places such as Heavenly in South Lake Tahoe, Sqauw Valley in North Lake Tahoe, Big Bear, and Breckenridge in Colorado; and I’ve always been one of 10 black folks on the mountain, so when I got an invite to Whistler, I knew this would be no different. To give a little background let me explain what kind of mountain gyal I am. I practice on 2 green runs, tackle 1 blue run, and then reward myself with a toasty Irish coffee, and crisp champagne until my friends are done on the slopes. I will forever be a beginner. I come for the comradery, stay for the scenery. One could argue it’s wasteful given the cost of a ski pass + snow gear, but over the years I’ve gathered a collection of clothing. I don’t have the luxury of a rotation of cute outfits we see on IG because at the top of that mountain, I have to prioritize warmth over style.
On to Whistler – two hours north of Vancouver, Canada is one of the largest snow resorts in North America, Whistler Blackcomb. I’d encourage taking a day or two to explore Vancouver, the waterfront is gorgeous, and they have lots to offer in areas of food, art, and culture. Whistler itself is something out of a fairy tale. Its diamond-glistening snow-capped mountains put any attempt by a snow globe to shame. From the base of Whistler Blackcomb’s village, you can see a two-mountain stretch from Blackcomb Mountain Peak to Whistler Mountain Peak. All of this you can find on Wikipedia, so I’m moving on to the real reason we are here.
Après Ski! Pronounced [Ap] [Ray]. I feel bamboozled that I have been heaping on layers of clothing to live my best life on the mountains, when all this time, there were mountain villages that did après ski as a sport. Après ski is a French term that translates to “after ski” and it’s basically a term to describe the relaxation after a long day of SWISH and SWOOSHING through the snow. There is likely more to it rooted in racism given the long-standing history of racism and skiing, however depending on who you ask today, “après ski” is just the fancy term for post-mountain party time, and Whistler is truly what après ski life is made for. Aside from looking like Santa’s village, Whistler Village consists of some of Northern America’s most fun outdoor bars. DJs, smoke, strobe lights, and dancers. International DJ’s playing mixes of hip-hop, pop, house, and afrobeats. Tables colorfully decorated with yellow and orange umbrellas. Glass lined fire pits and happy hour specials that honor the meaning of “happy hour”. Hands in the hair, people dancing all around. The atmosphere is filled with laughter, joy, and good vibes. Special shout-out to the Longhorn Saloon!
I rarely was reminded that I was an outsider amongst outsiders. As your dopamine increases, you get to chatting with those around you and learn that you’re cabbage patching with people from Australia, the UK, Spain, New York, Tokyo, and many others. Instructors and staff are from all over, and it truly is a place thriving off of seasonal love and vacation joy. It’s easy for me to be reminded that even in a place as diverse with visitors, the visibility of people like me is still few. Despite that, every day of my trip was filled with mountain enjoyment, so much so that I realized I lowkey don’t ever need to ski again. Whistler encouraged après ski life with or without having a day on the slopes and that’s the positivity I need in my life.
Whistler provides non-ski/snowboarding folks with the opportunity to show off their fabulous mountain style, from those cute faux fur jackets and faux-lined boots to jumpsuits that are definitely not warm enough to be at the peak of the mountain. Whistler had many wonderful things to offer for a winter wonderland getaway without the constant reminder that black people are few and far between. Snowmobiling was magical, riding through snow-filled trees with blue skies and glimmery snow. Fine and affordable dining of every cuisine and shopping included. It’s easy to dismiss locations because of unfamiliarity, but if you’re a fan of having a good time, picturesque scenery, and crisp clean air, Whistler in the snow season should be on your list.
Nationality/Home Country: USA