When you come to Whistler for the first time, it’s a magical place. The mountains surround you, and the moment you step out of that vehicle you realize you are at the top of the world. This feeling never goes away; it is in fact the key to surviving Whistler if you plan on staying.
There are constant adventures to be had here. You could take a walk down to Lost Lake, cross country ski around the valley trails, rush down the hills on nothing but a hunk of fibre glass, or hike 10 kilometres up a mountain to sit and have lunch by a glacier in the middle of summer. No matter the season, adventures are always available. Sports are an integral part of the lifestyle here; Whistler is one of the few places that people can manage to go on a vacation and lose weight. I frequently found myself on hikes, going on bike rides, and constantly walking along the edge of many lakes and trails.
But this paradise is only a reality if your visit to Whistler is short and sweet, which it will be, this is a promise. If you venture into town with some money in your pocket you you’ll catch a glimpse into life of the locals, who spend their mornings on the hills, their days hard at work, and their nights very drunk in clubs and bars, only to wake up and do it all over again. Being a witness to this lifestyle is one that most can only handle for a short amount of time, and it is magical in that short amount of time. But staying longer, and maintaining the lifestyle and yourself, is another challenge.
There are three classic Whistler questions; how long have you been here for, how long do you plan on staying and do you ski or board? Basically, the locals need to assess what your qualifications are. How far should they let you in, should they hire you, should you be allowed into their club? In a town where only every other person is there to stay, and most come alone, it feels like a village of misfits banding together to survive.
Survival is key in Whistler – it isn’t a place in which you can just live. Everyone participates in extreme sports; body parts are routinely breaking, spraining and dislocating. The lifestyle is extremely expensive – groceries will run you double whatever you’re used to, rent is notably high (especially in the winter), and drinking problems are encouraged. You need a lift pass to reach the top of the mountain; $2000 dollars and 5000 feet higher you need to drop another $1000 on equipment.
So what else makes this place so hard to survive? The unexpected cost is emotional – people leave. Everyone is in transit, rarely are they here for too long. There is surely consistency where you live, be it people you see every day, coworkers you’ve known for years, family and friends with open doors – for better or worse, they are in your lives for extended periods of time. In Whistler, you’d be considered lucky if half of your friends were present a year later.
In short, Whistler is a beautiful place to visit, all year round. It is exciting and intense whether you’re here for a week, a month, or ten years. This place will at times break your bones, the people will routinely break your heart, the experiences will often surprise you, the view will constantly remind you of how beautiful the world is, and you will learn that it’s always worth it to be in Whistler.