Park Check: Horstman Glacier, Whistler Blackcomb

For those shred junkies who didn’t lock down their Front Board Bagels last winter, or for those who just want to enjoy the novelty of snowboarding and hitting the beach all in the same day, Horstman Glacier at the peak of Blackcomb Mountain awaits.

Public lift access starts at 11 a.m. to the first of three lifts and a bus ride, which is required to reach Horstman Hut and the glacier’s drop-in point. On a sunny day the view alone is worth the trip. Fair weather or not, the 45 minutes you’ll spend getting to the top is bound to include amusing sightings of bear cubs, the occasional coyote and tourists ill-prepared for the conditions up top. Always bring your sunblock or Airhole ninja mask and a winter jacket because freak snowstorms can appear on the bluest of days.

Although the public park is small compared to the private camp parks, the setup is fun and flowing. A run through the pipe at the top directs you toward a series of jibs—ranging from rails to boxes—and small jumps that are easy enough for beginners to learn on but still provide the experienced rider a place to hone his or her skills. While individual obstacles can be hiked, it’s challenging to stick an entire line since falling results in missing a jib or two to regain speed.

The exit to the park dumps you into the T-bar line, which can be long—wait times push 20 minutes on a busy day—but lift-line antics are always entertaining due to the melting pot of freestyle shredders, spandex-clad ski racers and kooky old “super locals.”

Two regular-season park staff are on hand to maintain the features but are forced to split their time between the public park and servicing the summer camps.

“We’re limited to what we can offer due to the size of the camp lanes,” says terrain park supervisor Stu Osborne. “But we do the best we can with what we get.”

If mixing it up with the locs isn’t your thing, five-to-eight-day sessions at private snowboard camps can be purchased. Prices range between $700 and $1,025, depending on the type of experience you’re looking for, and provide access to a myriad of well-maintained jumps, rails and pipes.

Of the three summer snowboard camps in Whistler, Camp of Champions offers the most variable terrain, biggest jumps and high-profile Canadian pro coaches, including Chris Dufficy, Simon Chamberlain and T.J. Schneider. The Whistler Summer Snowboard Camp, located next to the public park and orientated toward beginners and intermediates, features a good range of jibs and moderately sized jumps. Ben Wainwright’s Glacier Camp rounds out Whistler’s summer camp trio. While it offers some rails and jumps, it caters more to the aspiring pipe rider. Coaches for the camp include Maelle Ricker and Mike Michalchuk.

Summer shredding isn’t for everyone, but if it’s for you, Blackcomb’s Horstman Glacier is one of the best places in the world to do it.

Testimonials

“Riding the Glacier Park is like watching the movie The Illusionist. It’s not as good as The Prestige, but at least it’s got Jessica Biel in it, and she’s gorgeous. Incidentally, I’ve never actually seen Jessica Biel on the glacier, but you get the idea.” —Robjn Taylor

“The public park is the most fun you’ll have with your clothes on, on a budget. The funbox setups are perfect for learning, especially the down-box, and there won’t be any blown knees in this park ’cause the biggest jump you’ll encounter is maybe a 25-footer.” —Matt Belzile

“A perfect off-season training grounds. I fine-tuned all my tricks and even learned some new ones.” —Eric Webber

Information

Day pass:

$49 (adult)

Summer pass:

$300 (or $200 with upgrade from season's pass)

Phone:

1-800-766-0449

Website:

whistlerblackcomb.com