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Thursday through Saturday I volunteered at the Microsoft Seattle Regional of the FIRST Robotics Competition. More on that later, perhaps. First, I must report on my wondrous trip to British Columbia.

As I already posted, I got lost on my way there, but I found my way to my hotel so it was all good. The next morning, I woke early to drive to Whistler, where I purchased a ski ticket and hit the slopes just after 10 am.

The lift infrastructure at the Whistler-Blackcomb ski area is immense, modern, and spectacular. Most of the lifts are enclosed gondolas or express chairs, and they cover a vast skiable area. It was lightly snowing most of the day while I skied, and visibility varied between good and fair. Winds picked up towards the end of the day, but my new ski pants and venerable yellow jacket withstood the weather very well.

I had forgotten a how much fun skiing is, and this was a spectacular reminder. I wasn’t in very good skiing shape, so I tired quickly from terrain like moguls, but I still enjoyed everything I went down and avoided falling — although I had a few close calls as I got more tired in the afternoon.

My knee held up very well, and although it was a little more stiff than usual the next morning, it was not bad at all, and while skiing it felt find the whole day.

One of the highlights for me was the newly completed Peak-to-Peak Gondola, an engineering feat that whisks passengers between the peaks of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. The unsupported span is nearly two miles, and it hangs about 1500 feet over the bottom on the ravine it crosses. A spectacular and awe-inspiring ride, and almost worth the price of admission alone.

Both mountains offer a wide variety of excellent skiing. I didn’t attempt anything too difficult, but I did hit a few black diamonds and had a great time throughout the day. I stopped at a Mongolian grill in the village for lunch, and then when the lifts started closing, I headed back to Vancouver, albeit slowly. On my way back, I stopped at a couple of places to take pictures along the scenic Sea-to-Sky highway that is under heavy construction leading up the the 2010 Olympics.

2 Responses to “Whistler-Blackcomb”

  1. Spencer Says:

    Does whistler use RFID-type lift tickets or do they still scan barcodes every time you ascend? Most swiss resorts give you a card to put in your pocket. You just walk through a turnstill at the bottom of each lift and the light turns green if you payed for the pass that morning.

  2. Ryan Says:

    Nope, Whistler is using barcodes that are scanned where it is possible to access the mountian without already having been scanned.

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