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Snowmobiling in Whistler is peak awesome (even if you get cold feet).
I’m jealous of the other couple on this snow snowmobiling trip.
Yellow Jacket is perched at the front of the machine, Red Jacket has her arms wrapped around him. They’re straddling the same seat, about to take on every exhilarating second as one.
My partner Chris, on the other hand—he was the one who booked this semi-private beginner tour with Blackcomb Snowmobile—has made the executive decision that we will not be sharing a snowmobile. He might as well be on another planet: our instructor, Arnaud, arranged us behind him so that Yellow Jacket and Red Jacket are second, then me, then Chris. Since my neck won’t turn 180 degrees—especially not when operating an alpine-certified crotch rocket—I can’t even see him, much less touch him. I think back to the release form I signed just a few minutes ago: Chris better be sorry if I experience “serious injury or death” all by myself.
After a very quick rundown of the machines, we take the snowy mountain trail—though not exactly by storm. Yellow Jacket turns out to be an absolutely terrible driver, and I need to keep stopping to avoid a fender bender. That said, the machine is much easier to manoeuvre than I anticipated, and my fears of accidentally falling off a cliffside dissipate. Eventually, I develop a strategy: drive slow for a bit, wait for the snowmobile in front of me to get well ahead, then let ’er rip.
I don’t like to admit that I’m wrong, but in this instance, I’ll confess: driving a snowmobile is way more fun than riding on the back of one. It only takes a few minutes for me to get completely comfortable racing over the hills and sending snow flying in my wake. I even stand up, wind rushing past my cheeks. Arnaud stops us about an hour in for a photo op, and I realize how truly stunning the mountains are—I’ve been head-down driving for so long, I’ve forgotten we are in one of B.C.’s most beautiful places.
The two-hour tour passes quickly, and soon we’re turning in our helmets and goggles. I’m weirdly grateful to have been separate from—and in front of—my partner. He got to watch me discover a love for snowmobiling, and I didn’t have to watch him try to capture every moment with his phone, a GoPro and a 360 camera. But I do have the photos and videos to prove that I had a blast.
A two-hour private tour with Blackcomb Snowmobile is $269 per person. (Or $229 per person if you share a machine… but who wants to do that?)
Your feet don’t spend much time on the ground when you’re snowmobiling, but even making your way through the parking lot can be a challenge in this icy climate. Hunter’s women’s Wanderer insulated vegan shearling short snow boots were my shoe of choice for this outing. They kept my feet warm and dry, and, more importantly, they’re super comfy and have a great tread: no slip risk here. $185, hunterboots.com
For an après-snowmobile, we hit up Squamish’s Backcountry Brewing (#405-1201 Commercial Way, Squamish)—it’s tough to beat hot buffalo wings ($19) and pizza after a day out in the snow. We ordered the Killa Beez pie (soppressata salami, mozzarella, red onion, chili flakes and honey
drizzle, $26) and a pair of pints of one of their absurdly long-named beers. I recommend the Why Can’t You Be Happy For Me And Then Go Home And Talk About Me Behind My Back Like A Normal Person? sour—it’s passionfruit orange guava, and if you can get over the embarrassment of ordering it, it’s delicious. backcountrybrewing.com
This story was originally published in the November 2023 issue of Vancouver Magazine.