Slow and steady. It’s my silent mantra as I scale a mountain of melting, unstable snow. I’m literally walking in the footsteps of my guide as we inch our way up to our destination—a trail that will take us along a steep ridge of Whistler Mountain.
The Whistler Sky Walk —run by Mountain Skills Academy and Adventures—begins at the company’s kiosk near the Roundhouse Lodge. Halfway to the trail head proper, my guide Mathew stops to give me a quick breather and a chance to look up at the snow-capped ridge resting just below a grey blanket of clouds. He points out a patch of “watermelon snow,” its pink colour created by a particular algae bloom. We set off again, the hard part behind us: from here, the hike is considerably easier, the snow giving way to earthy terrain.
We reach the entrance to the Sky Walk and I am amazed—by the unfiltered beauty of the Coastal Mountains, and the unbelievably narrow, rocky ledge that is our path. The steel cable that runs throughout the course—and, thankfully, to which I am clipped—serves as support in the trickier parts of the trail. At our first checkpoint, Mathew reminds me to use only one hand to detach and reattach to the cable—this is no time to go hands-free (a continuous belay system—awkward to use today because of cooler temperatures— is available for younger or more nervous hikers).
I’d put myself in the latter category—even the slightest airplane turbulence makes me fret—yet I find the Sky Walk relaxed, and secure. Even stepping over narrow steel ledges in order to take in the view from the mini suspension bridges that pepper the route is a thrill. I spot a speedy pika (a mouse-like mountain animal), darting around the boulders.
When we hit the snow again on our return from the Sky Walk, Mathew suggests we slide down. I hesitate, but follow his instructions to fashion my waterproof jacket into a makeshift sled, and hold on tight. Fast and bumpy, it’s definitely a rush.
Whistler Sky Walk tours run twice daily at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Bookings can be made at mountainskillsacademy.com
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