The Callaghan Valley (Whistler Olympic Park) Cross-Country Ski Trails
By: John Taylor (2008/01/28)
Over the Christmas period, my partner Ruth Kirk and I became (so we were told) among the first 15 paying customers at Whistler Olympic Park, where the X-country, biathalon, and ski-jumping will be held. The public has access to non-competition trails and also to competition trails when not in use; and a number of the latter are lighted for night-time ski-ing. Facilities are still temporary: rentals, ski patrol, bathrooms, and warmup operating out of trailers. Hours are 8 to 4, Saturday to Monday and 8 to 8 Tuesday to Friday. Finger food and fluid can be purchased at the rental trailer.
Getting there is half the fun. The site is near Callaghan Lake Park, some 12 Km off Hwy 99 between Squamish and Whistler, on a newly-paved access road completed only last autumn. The turn-off from Hwy 99 is 42 Km north of Squamish or 12 Kms south of Whistler. Coming from Squamish, you pass Brandywine Creek and shortly see a big blue and white sign on the RIGHT announcing the Olympic Park, but the actual turn-off is a few hundred metres beyond on the LEFT and the sign is in a snowbank well off the highway on the other side of a construction zone.
As many of you know, good snow tires are pretty much mandatory along Hwy99, but also on the new access road to the Nordic site. While both roads were well maintained, we checked with the site for road conditions before leaving Squamish.
Adult day passes are $16, and adult rental packages are $24 classic, $30 skate, $40 high end demo, $18 snowshoe: cash, debit or VISA only. We brought our SNS boots, not wanting to risk our skis on the airplane, but to no useful end. But the ski packages are all Rottefella, and the classic are fishscale touring skis. Fishscales turned out to work quite well in the soft, high humidity snow at the site. Classic waxing could be a bit tricky in typical conditions; glide waxes would have to shed moisture well.
There are only 35km of groomed trails at present, all quite open, and another 50km or so in the plans. Anyone familiar with Gatineau Park would have no problem on the technical front, and while some of the climbs are a decent test of endurance, none would match Penguin or Black Lake or even Fortune.
Dual passes, in books of six, are $85, and good at both the Callaghan Park site; and the nordic site at Lost Lake in Whistler itself. The Callaghan site is higher and more sheltered, but it seems less sunny. Snow in December was deep and somewhat soft, but well groomed. All the trails are directional: you keep the classic tracks to your right, skate or classic.
Contact numbers: 604-698-4004 and www.whistlerolympicpark.com
Regards, John Taylor
Madeley creek, along the Madeley Creek Loop. Some of the viewing is quite spectacular.
Madeley-road is one of the most remote of the public trails, nice vista.
The Stadium and Technical Building, still under construction.
Olympicxc 5km blue is one of the competition loops. The skier is colorful Ruth Kirk against an almost monochrome background. The light is often very flat: the trails almost disappear.