Sit skiers & wheelchair access guide to Whistler

I skied Whistler instead of Myoko this season. English is the main language and there’s plenty of Aussies. A snowy winter wonderland makes me happy.

PHOTO Sam Colby

Getting to Whistler

Pacific Coaches has buses from downtown Vancouver or International Airport to Whistler return. Bookings can be made directly through Whistler. Some coaches in their fleet are wheelchair accessible but isn’t available for the Downtown Vancouver location.

The Downtown location was closer to my accommodation as I was staying in Vancouver either side of my trip to Whistler so knew in booking that it wasn’t wheelchair accessible. As done previously to conquer stairs, I was hoping someone would be able to help Mum top and tail me on and off the bus. We made it work but with some bad attitude from bus drivers.

I would suggest looking into other options to access Whistler.

View from bus

Access

Paths are stoned but I didn’t mind wheeling on it. Paths are often clear of snow. Be prepared for wet wheels and slippery push rims in the many puddles.

There are ramps and lift access into many of the restaurants and shops. It can be tricky finding these but just ask and someone will be able to help. It can also mean going the long way around if you’ve gone up a ramp and visited some shops but come to a dead end with stairs only.

Shops & restaurants

I enjoyed exploring on my final day. There are a variety of places including souvenir shops, ski equipment and accessory shops and food shops.

Sit-ski hire & private lessons

Whistler Adaptive Sports Program (WASP) is the organisation to join to be able to hire adaptive equipment and private lessons. Discounts also apply.

I would recommend booking early in the season.

Gondolas & lifts

Lifties are aware of sit skis and wheelchairs.

I was able to ride gondolas in my wheelchair. Ask a liftie to slow the gondola, open the doors wider and lift a seat. Take a run up, lining up well and I was in the gondola. It’s a smooth ride to the top. It’s enjoyable on a nice clear day with good company.

Lifties are able to slow the chairlift for loading and unloading.

The Peak To Peak Gondola is also wheelchair accessible and an enjoyable ride from Whistler to Blackcomb (return).

Food

There are plenty of hot and cold food options including chips, sandwiches and salads. Water is free so there’s no excuse to be dehydrated.

Food is expensive.

It’s permitted to bring your own food. This would be a much cheaper option. My other food saving tip would be to get a kids meal or share with a buddy.

Granola bars are not only great for your energy. It’s fun to feed the birds in the lift line. The birds are cute and will sit in your hand for a moment to eat the granola bar.

Feeding the birds in the lift line PHOTO: Gil

Bathrooms

There are wheelchair accessible bathrooms in some restaurants on the mountain and in the village. Doors can be heavy but once inside it’s spacious with open garbage bins, sinks within reach and mirrors at lowered height.

Slopes, snow conditions & runs

Conditions and temperatures vary each day and where you ski on the mountain.

It’s best to ski in the morning when I’m feeling fresh and the snow conditions are best too.

The snow in the afternoon was chopped up and very bumpy. This was more uncomfortable.

Runs are long. There are spaces to stop and rest when needed without fearing others with ski into me. I really enjoyed the wider runs with plenty of room to make turns and wash off the speed.

Checklist of what you need

  • Money – it is expensive
  • Lift pass – swiped once to get onto the main gondola but then remains in your pocket
  • Food – energy is important
  • Many, many thermal layers – it’s freezing. Layers can be adjusted
  • Waterproof ski jacket and pants – keeps you warm
  • Helmet – it does get rough and falls happen. Protect your brain. Available to hire
  • A poncho – may be ugly but it does get wet
  • Goggles – to be able to see in the changing visibility.
  • Hand and body warmers – disposable hand warmers you can open, shake and attach to your clothing. Helps keep you warm all day.

It’s a large and beautiful mountain.

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