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Originally published April 16, 2009 at 12:00 AM | Page modified April 16, 2009 at 11:36 AM

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Plenty of spring snow sports — and more — at Whistler

Plan more spring skiing, or other fun, during the thaw season, at Whistler Blackcomb ski resort in B.C.

Seattle Times Travel staff

If You Go

Skiing, hotels

Spring hours: Whistler mountain will be open through April 26, Blackcomb through May 18. Whistler will reopen for spring skiing May 19 to June 14, snowpack permitting.

Spring lift prices: One-day adult lift tickets are about $64 (Cdn. $79, down $10 from the winter rate) through April 26. From April 27 until the end of the season, a lift ticket is about $44.60 (Cdn. $55). A hotel/lift package may give cheaper rates, and purchasers of an Edge pass for next season get an unlimited spring ski pass for an extra $64 (Cdn. $79). Cheaper summer lift rates for hiking and sightseeing begin May 16. Info: www.whistlerblackcomb.com/tickets/ 866-218-9690.

Lodging: Hotels (and condos) can be booked through Tourism Whistler, www.tourismwhistler.com or 800-WHISTLER, the official tourism office, or Intrawest, which runs the ski area, www.whistlerblackcomb.com or 866-218-9690; (it also offers last-minute online specials and room/lift packages). Condos and homes also can be rented directly from owners through

www.alluradirect.com

For backpacker-style lodgings, there's a Whistler youth hostel, www.hihostels.ca, and the UBC Student Lodge, which has some beds for non-students, www.ubcwhistlerlodge.com.

Getting there: Whistler is about a 1 ½-hour drive north of Vancouver via the Sea to Sky Highway, which is being extensively improved for next year's Olympics. Check construction delays at http://projects.ch2m.com/TrafficUpdate/travelling-sts.asp or 604-815-4010.

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Don't give up on skiing or snowboarding yet. While most Washington ski resorts are closing this month, the giant Whistler resort in British Columbia hopes to keep some slopes open until mid-June — and lodging and lift prices decline in spring.

If you don't want to play in the snow, there's lots of off-slope fun around Whistler, which, along with Vancouver, B.C., hosts next February's 2010 Winter Olympics. A sampling:

Concerts and "big air"

Whistler launches its annual Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival on Friday, one of its biggest parties of the year. It's 10 days of ski and snowboard competitions, high up on the adjacent Whistler and Blackcomb mountains and at specially built snow jumps at the base of the lifts in Whistler Village. During the festival, which runs through April 26, more than 45 indie-rock bands will give free concerts at two outdoor stages in the pedestrian-oriented village.

Be ready for a crowd, especially on the grand-finale nights on the next two Saturdays at Skier's Plaza, the square at the base of the lifts in the village by the Longhorn Saloon. On those evenings, professional skiers (April 18) and snowboarders (April 25) will stage "big-air" competitions, taking off from the jumps to soar and twist in front of a crowd of thousands that packs the plaza. DJs and bands will play on an outdoor stage as the skiers and riders fly high. Information: www.wssf.com.

Biking

For fun on the quieter side, some biking trails around Whistler Village already are snow-free. The paved 21-mile Valley Trail is a scenic biking/pedestrian route linking Whistler Village to parks and neighborhoods. It skirts Lost Lake Park near the village where there's a web of unpaved trails, ideal for beginning mountain bikers (they're used by cross-country skiers in winter).

Once the snow melts, more advanced mountain bikers can careen along mountain trails, both backcountry and on Whistler Mountain (ascend via the ski lifts).

For biking info, see www.whistler.ca, (click on the bike icon).

Golf

Three top golf courses near Whistler Village are expected to open in May — the Whistler Golf Club, Fairmont Chateau and Nicklaus North golf courses. (The Big Sky course is about a half-hour north in Pemberton.) Get details and links to the courses from Tourism Whistler, www.tourismwhistler.com (click on "Things to do").

Shopping,

restaurants, spas

For simple pleasures, stroll the pedestrian-oriented Whistler Village, have a drink at an outdoor cafe or a beavertail — a big, flat fried pastry that looks like, yes, a beaver's tail. There are more than 90 cafes, pubs and restaurants around the village (and up on the mountains), from coffee bars to white-tablecloth dining. Get listings at http://restaurants.whistlerblackcomb.com.

For massage or beauty treatments, head to luxury spas at hotels such as the Fairmont Chateau Whistler and Westin Resort or to one of the many smaller day spas; see www.whistlerblackcomb.com/todo/rest/indoor.htm.

Zip line

Want more action? Ride a zip line. Strapped into a body harness attached to a freewheeling pulley, you'll zoom for thousands of feet along steel cables, swooping among trees and high over a narrow valley, then down to Whistler Village. Zip line tours take 2 ½ to 3 hours.

For less adrenaline, take the Treetop Trek, a guided walk on suspension bridges and observation platforms high up in the trees. Ziptrek Eco tours, www.ziptrek.com.

Kristin Jackson: kjackson@seattletimes.com or 206-464-2271.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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