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Osprey Athlete Alison Gannett’s favorite places to ski…or MTB?

March 28th, 2015

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“My Favorite Places to Ski, Part 2″ was to be the subject of this post.The weather has been so strange this year (I’ll save that rant forlater), that I pondered writing my favorite places to mountain bike instead. Then is started snowing again! So instead I’ll write about where I’ve skied and biked recently. Quite a year it is when you can do both in the same day!

Whistler, BC, Canada has long been a favorite place for me. Big alpine lines, impressive backcountry access, beyond-stellar views, big big big…the list goes on and on.

 

Since I’m a small town girl, I adore staying in Pemberton, BC instead of in the fancy Whistler resort. Only a half hour away, Pemberton’s lush valley is surrounded by animal, veggie and berry farms, with mountains like Mt. Curry rising 8,000 feet above. For food, don’t miss Mile One – burgers with local Pemby Beef that are to die for, especially with toppings like handmade goat cheese.

The Whistler/Blackcomb resort is so massive that finding a local guide is essential to link the goods together. They do offer free guided tours (check the map/grooming report/big boards for info) or just post on Facebook before heading there and find a friend or friend of friend to guide you. Unless you want to spend a lot of time on lifts or looking at vistas, choose either Whistler or Blackcomb to ski for any given day.

The backcountry is vast, and often requires a sled, but I’ve found plenty great stuff via skins as well. The Duffy is one of the local classic places to go tour. This video below is of Alaska, but it reminds me of the alpine terrain in that area:

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So while there last week, the skiing was, well, just ok. Temps had gotten so warm the week before, going above freezing in the valley and all the way to the summits way above. BUMMER. Alas, Whistler and Blackcomb are so extensive, that we even had fun cruising all the groomers. I had fun testing my new Meier Skis – a new women’s prototype that we are working on together that will launch next season. Like our new graphic? Its in the photo above. Venturing off piste was sketchy, slide for life conditions to say the least. So we puckered ourselves just a bit anyway – why not?

Since our backcountry plans got stuffed (no snow on the approaches), we turned to mountain biking those areas instead. Why not? Since my plush Juliana was at home in Colorado, I demoed a more appropriate gravity bike 65 degrees of slackness and 6 front and back to ease my fears from Bike Co. Even though I make a living teaching Mountain Bike camps with Osprey Packs, I wanted to push my own riding. So my friend Susan set me up with Pro-Downhiller and MTB Coach Sylvie Allen and Sweet Skills Mountain Bike Coaching. Whoop, whoop! She took my riding to a new level, with a bit of boosted confidence from my plush ride. One line in particular, to the side of the main Cream Puff trail, had me puckered with its slanting fall line but with some help, voila! Thanks Sylvie! Here is a short video of some of the splendor:

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Up next this year: KEEN Rippin Chix Mountain Bike Camps with complimentary Osprey Packs hydration pack demos. I’m hoping the new Osprey Zealots will be in the mail this week, so that you can try them in my upcoming MTB skills and singletrack camps in Fruita, followed by Eagle/Vail, Paonia, Crested Butte, and Moab.

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This hydration pack not only has all my favorite great looks and features (bite valve/hose magnet, rigid reservoir, helmet carrying fixins, special tool compartment/carrying system, etc), but also enables carrying of your more gravity oriented equipment.

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Forcing Nature at the Whistler Bike Park

May 23rd, 2013

I usually try to avoid the opening weekend of the Whistler Bike Park. Some reasons for my refusal to participate in this annual event are paltry, being that there are just a few muddy trails open, huge lines and the fact that other Sea to Sky venues are in mint shape this time of year, including, well, everywhere else.

All of that aside, I went this year. I think the Whistler Corp would like to hear that it was because of their barrage of marketing prior to the lifts firing up. Not really, although I did enjoy the first Force of Nature Video released before opening, featuring their motley bunch of bike athletes. The video shows riders carving perfect corners and lofting sculpted lips in what looks like epic mid-season conditions. Pretty convincing stuff, but the deciding factor for me was some good ‘ol fashioned arm-twisting by a group of buddies. A deal was struck where we worked out a balance of park and pedal, in a few Sea to Sky locations, over this Canadian long weekend.

It was a good decision. The bike park was all-time. The trail crew put in their due diligence, preparing almost every lower mountain trail in time for the gates to drop. The dirt was tacky and the riding was heroic. We had a casual start to the day, nothing like the kids who waited in line from 3 a.m. in order to secure first chair. The casual start was no hindrance though, as we were greeted by mellow lift lines that grew progressively larger over the afternoon. The wait in line was welcome though, as I could rest my cramping hands and catch up with friends. “How was your winter?” and “Epic conditions, eh?” were refrains echoing through the queue.

I had my own “Force of Nature” Friday night after a questionable chicken burrito wreaked havoc on my guts for the next 36 hours. I almost pulled the plug and hightailed back to Vancouver to recuperate, but the weekend was heading into high gear, so I decided hang around to see if things would improve.

The next day dawned wet and rainy, and my guts were still churning something fierce, so we abandoned the “official” opening day of the Park for a pedal in Squamish. A lush rainforest met us there, along with some fun new trails that magically sprung up over the winter, not unlike the mass proliferation of green undergrowth that appears with the spring rain.

The weekend was a blur of riding, eating and sleeping. My food poisoning waned, so with renewed energy I sampled more bike park, usually riding the lifts in the morning until the lift line got too oppressive, and then trading bikes for a pedal in the Whistler Valley or Pemberton. An amazing way to spend this Victoria Day long weekend!

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