becoming a Canadian Wilderness Adventures Tour Guide

Summer is over and it’s time to draw this chapter to a close. After Winter 2017/2018 at the Tube Park I needed to progress into a job that would enable me to grow, something more than just to get by. I considered trail building at the WB Bike Park, I considered being a WB Bike Park Instructor. However I was after somewhere where I could learn, improve my skill set and engage more on multiple levels. I bounced the idea off close friends, one in particular said “Kyle – have you considered becoming a guide at Canadian Wilderness Adventures“.

Looking through all these photos it is all too easy to think, hey man that’s the best job ever! But let me tell you this gig is no easy ride. There is always more to the story than what first presents itself. Hopefully this post will help potential or aspiring new guides a little along the way, that is the intention or for the rest of you at least with a little curious bed time reading.

We started off with so many and ended with so few. You could say only the strongest survive. Maybe that was half the point. Maybe that was half the appeal. Maybe when you read past all the dazzling marketing spiel, that’s just Whistler.

In Ernst. Do you like a challenge? Can you commit?

Training – First Aid


  • Canoe (min 40 hr first aid)
  • SnowShoe (min 40 hr first aid & mandatory BC Class 4 License)
  • Jeeps (min 40 hr first aid & mandatory BC Class 4 License)
  • ATV/mechanized machines guide (min 80 hr first aid & asap BC Class 4 License)

Level 3 certification is required for the first aid element: either the 110 hr Outdoor Emergency Care (OEC) (only really needed if you are also considering ski patrol) or the 80 hr Wilderness First Responder (WFR).

Whistler can be a struggle enough, especially with transport so keep life simple, keep it local. I went for the Wilderness First Responder 80 hr course with Sirius, André led the way, top guy! I felt this was the best fit to me, present and future.

Training companies operating in Whistler:

Training – BC Class 4 Drivers License aka the holy grail

A Class 4 License is not officially required to be a guide, although really, well it is. Get it.

Top Tip: get your BC Class 4 drivers license as soon as you can. The admin and work it will take will surprise you so get on it asap!

Why? Apart from Canoe guides where there is always a canoe shuttle driver present you will need your Class 4-unrestricted License to give you the legal capacity to pick up and return guests from the village to base. That is a core responsibility of the guides, it puts you up a pay a bracket and it puts you a step up on the all important schedule = more work = more pay = rent gets paid.

Sorry to say, but this is a process, mentally prepare for it so you don’t get the wind knocked out of your sails, especially if you are not from North America (majority of young workers in Whistler). The process is stuck in the Stone Age, it took me 5 months, no joke. Try and be patient and go with it. Seek guidance from your fellow guides, we will help, we’ve all been through the pain and all have some good advice to pass on.

So first thing first. Check out the Class 4 requirements:

Then visit your local ICBC office:

Get your paper work in order from your home country.  This will take 2-3 weeks.

Paperwork processing Canada side will take 4-8 weeks. No they will not accept electronic confirmation. When your home country sends the letter do not open it.  An opened envelope will render the mail invalid, yes seriously!

Pass your theory test. $15 a pop (for me the hard part)

Top Tip: read the book. I skim-read it. Error! That won’t work. You need to photographic memory the living hahula out of this thing. Like cover to cover. Because of questions no many years of driving experience will prepare you for. My favourite “when you use your high beam lights at night, you must switch them to low beam when a vehicle approaching is within at least ……. meters.  200 m, 250 m, 150 m or 100 m?” Whoever decided an exact distance should be measured and then recalled by drivers, driving at night and then thought it valuable enough to put in what is considered a high level test is beyond me.

Also try out the various on-line tests:

Book your practical test: wait 4 weeks or so for a slot to open (options also in Squamish, Vanc)

Pass your pre-trip and practical test. $45 a pop (for me the easy part)

Top Tip: 1 (pre-trip) show the examiner that you check the function of your own seat belt as well as those of your passengers (easy to forget). 2 (practical) if you are asked what you should do after you have let off your passengers and take some time out before setting off with a set of new passengers. Answer: get out and walk around your bus to ensure there are no new obstructions, e.g. kids, especially kids.

Pass your medical (you have 45 days to complete and submit it from receiving the form) I did mine a few weeks before my practical so once I passed the practical I was good to go!: $125 for what is essentially not much more than an eye test.

Additional paper work processing fee: $40

You are likely looking at roughly $200+ for this fun time ride.

Good news! Smile nicely and Canadian will reimburse some of your Class 4 fees so KEEP YOUR RECEIPTS.

ATV & Buggy Guiding

For the majority it’s the machines that most guides will go for. It provides the thrill and the cool factor, but is also potentially the most dangerous so it takes the most training and time to get signed off on.

Top Tip: tail tail tail. Every spare day you have, jump on a machine with the current guides, listen, watch and learn. No guide is the same and often no way is the right way, different styles, different strengths and weaknesses, different ways of doing things. The core however is the same, learn this and keep it safe. The more often you do this the better chance you give yourself of getting signed off. Sign off = work = rent gets paid

Top Tip: know the terrain. Go out on your own or with fellow colleagues, drive, get used to the trails, look out and take note of your hazard call out points, draw your own map, write down the trail names. Know it, before you guide it or as some will say ‘ride before you guide’.

Top Tip: don’t break yourself, if you do, do it so you can at least still drive a Jeep one handed, ey boys.  No work = no pay = *$%@ rent

Top Tip: don’t get sick. Same formula = no work = no pay = *$%@ landlord

Top Tip: there is no tip about tips, because well I guess there is no recognized internationally understood standard about how and when to tip. Some guides will believe they have a knack, a trick. In my experience it totally depends on the guest and not necessarily the guide. Hot topic? Maybe. Top Tip: always maintain a top level of service, look after your customers, be curteous, maintain the balance between safety and fun. Add value in your own way. It may be additional information regarding flora and fauna, local knowledge on where to go, where to eat, other interesting activities to do, local history, fun play list on the Jeeps or for some just cracking out their arsenal of jokes. Actually it’s all about the jokes, just tell jokes.

10-40: Not sure I should write this as a tip, but Top Tip: don’t have a 10-40 (emergency accident). Most of the time it will not matter how good a guide you are, shit will hit the fan at some point. For me luckily not this season. For the most part there is nothing you can do and it’s no ones fault, accidents happen so do your best to limit whatever it is that could happen from happening. Key: Have fun – Keep it safe. As a qualified guide you are trained to deal with situations if they happen, keep your head, remember your training, radio in your team. There are a lot of experienced and capable colleagues ready to help. Remember key: make safe, stabilize, extract, 1 hr golden window.

Canoe Guiding

Perhaps my favourite and also most difficult of the guiding jobs. Away form the noise and fumes of the machines canoe guiding gives you the opportunity to escape back into nature and really connect with your customers. With this tour I feel you have to guide the most. I don’t mean just chatting along and telling stories with the parents or singing along with the kids, yes that is part of it, but it is one size fits all with this tour so customer ability can swing in polar opposites. You can quite easily go from leading from the front/mid pack in a morning session to transferring guests and towing the back canoe along in the afternoon. Out of all the tours I found this was the one where you had to teach the most. Not just in the pre-trip safety speech, but throughout the tour. Here helping customers overcome their fears, building confidence and developing communication skills was just as important as having fun.

Conditions vary too. Some days it will be onto a smooth glassy Alta Lake as bald eagles soar above with the sun beating down as you flow into the tranquility of Lily Pad Lane before entering the gentle meanders of the River of Golden Dreams. Other days it will be battling against the chop created by a stubborn head wind, hugging the shore line for shelter before trying to escape the flesh eating branches of a swollen, fresh snow melt river of golden dreams.

The work is physical. I personally like that aspect. The canoeing itself will provide you with a good arm and core workout. You’ll need a strong back to lift the canoes in and out of the water, portaging and then lifting them on and off the trailer. Top Tip: If you have a bad back skip this one. If not persevere, you’ll get strong quick.

MTB e-bike Guiding

Much like canoe guiding the MTB-ebike tours gave me the opportunity to mix it up a little and add variety to my week. The tours give you and the customer the chance to explore the old growth forests trails with trees over a thousand years old whilst reconnecting with nature and tails of the first settlers of the 1900’s. Depending on ability you can tailor fit the tour to the group, either as a gentle scenic ride or spice it up with hitting some soft features and flowing through the berms on the way down. Both work equally well.

Good resource article:


In quiet season or when you are struggling to get out on tour for whatever reason, fill your time, get paid and get your hands dirty. Trail work, landscaping, or just stacking wood, take what you can and always try to be the yes man.

The Staff Party

The CWA staff parties are known to be legendary in Whistler. no photos here, soon enough you’ll get to hear the stories.

Best work/life hack

TOFU: Take Ownership, Follow Up. See-it fix-it, pick it up, shut it, help it, report it.

Company Background

This article from the local Pique Newspaper says it better than I ever could. read on:


So in essence when the operations manager Josh Livermore wrote to me before I took on the job “this is understandably a serious commitment, so please look into whether it’s the right fit for you” he was right. It is. It is also a process. A process that some will give up on, but for those that stick with it, for now at least I can in all honesty say this was one of those jobs that just got better and better with time! Thanks guys we made it! #canadian01

Now. Bring on Winter!!

volunteer hut build for the Spearhead huts project

this one is nuts! 8 days camping in the Alpine. Physical work rewarded with great camaraderie, respect and delicious hot food severed 3 times a day. The daily routine, work, eat, explore, watch the sun set, read, sleep. Simple work for a simple life and a good cause. Give back. Find your peace.

Funnily I found out about this project whilst volunteering at the *World Ski and Snowboard festival (WSSF) in April 2018. Inspired by a speech from Liz Scremin at the Multiplicity event. The whole WSSF event was awe inspiring in itself so motivating and then Liz came on stage. 4 months later I would find myself working out at 2000m elevation helping to build an Alpine hut, a safe haven for backcountry enthusiasts, a next level step to help get people further out into nature.


I am not a backcountry skier, in fact I can’t ski. I am a snowboarder, but I do not own a split board nor do I have the spare cash to splash out on the whole set up. Why the hell am I giving up 8 days of paid work (roughly a whole months rent) in peak summer season to help build a backcountry ski hut that I will most likely never use?

Maybe it was Liz’s speech at Multiplicity that did it. Maybe it was in part due to my core values of wanting to give a little something back to the communities in which I live. Maybe it was the thought of just being part of an epic project in a epic location. To working with my hands and living outdoors. Maybe it was my chance to escape back out into nature, real nature, the high alpine. Maybe it was a little of all of the above.


Typically in 4 day slots. Arriving at the end of July I was fast put to work sealing in the last of the Blue Seal membrane for the basement room foundations. As trust built we discussed our skill levels over lunch. Some of the more qualified volunteers were sent in to assist the **BC Passive House guys with the roof installation where as I with no official qualifications as such, but good general working knowledge was entrusted with a Bostitch nailing gun, a few boxes of Simpson Strong-Tie Shearwall straps, Framing angle brackets and a large box of nail strips. The straps and brackets were used to reinforce the wall and wall to ceiling joints. Soon I happily set to work moving from wall to wall, often with the support of a fellow volunteer or guidance from the site manger Trevor MacDonald. With views of Russet Lake and Fissile Peak in the background it didn’t take long to start to feel a real sense of appreciation for the visionaries behind this project.

I’d like to mention this as I feel it’s an important piece that formed part of our daily routine. Site clean up was a continuous affair, we were working in a place of natural beauty and with daily heli drops coming in and out we had to make sure all loose items were picked up or tied down. There was a strict agreement with BC Parks on waste control that went for site materials as well as food and human waste which I was happy to see adhered to and respected by all.

Luckily the weather was mostly warm and the sun was mostly out, unluckily so were the black flies, the horse flies and the misquotes. Some chose to combat the bugs by wearing full length shirts and trousers. For me in typical form when the sun is out I went for the clothe-less option, a baseball cap doubling up as fly swat and body spray mixed in with sun cream.

With no running water and a limited water supply reserved for drinking, washing took up in the form of a quick dive in and out of the snow melt waters of Russet Lake. A ten degree bath soon soothed away the dirt and grime of a solid days work.

With the baking sun soon came the threat of Wild Fire season and just as we needed them most with only 1/3rd of the roof panels in position our heavy lift helicopters were grounded. With the large helicopters on fire watch the hut work soon dried up, the BC Passive house team were flown back and the volunteer work shifted to ground work. A less glamorous, but still essential part of the build. The Kees and Clair hut will come with an impressive grey water dispersion field which will treat the waste kitchen water through a perforated pipe system laid out in a zig zag formation through a rock field. Our task for the next days; to dig channels and lift boulders out of the rock field for the filtration pipes. Hot, physical work, no gym membership or flashy boot camp course required!

With Nature

A big part of this trip for was to reconnect. I had been in Whistler for 9 months, worked straight through Winter, Spring and now into Summer without taking any real quality time off (apart from one fabulous trip to Tofino). As a result my time in the Alpine, ‘the real Mountains’ had been limited. Work and finding a way to make rent put me under pressure and to some extent shifted my focus not out of want, but necessity. I recognized this and took a step back. Why was I here? What were my key drivers? It was time to shift again and reconnect with my core values.

Before and After

the last call. It’s the 7th of November 2018 and for the high Alpine at least winter is here. Temperatures are frequently below zero and as far as outdoor work is concerned the site needs to be put to bed. A last call was made by Liz for volunteers for a 1 day pack down. Fortunately I already had time booked off so I accepted the call. As to be expected for a project like this in such a remote location weather and the resultant issues with access of resources means delays are frequent. Good news is that the building is now water tight. The roof is on, the most critical North and East facing walls are finished in cladding and the others are protected in winter proof membrane. Time, weather and resources permitting indoor installations and finishings can resume during winter/spring.

status Aug 2018
status Nov 2018
East wall finished. South wall WIP
East wall complete with scaffold bundled ready to be air lifted out
Hut to the left. Fissile Peak. Whirlwind Peak. Cheakamus Glacier. Black Tusk. All kinds of wonderful
artists impression summer
artists impression winter

Fly-in Fly-out

Meet up at Blackcomb Helicopters front desk, sign the waiver, strap in and go!

Walk in options

  1. The most straight forward way in. From Whistler village take the Singing pass trail up to Oboe, sling a left and pick up the trail to Russet Lake. Around 15 km there with 1100 m elevation gain. Expect 3-4 hrs hiking.
  2. The most gentle way in. Take the Whistler Gondi up to the Roundhouse and follow trail markers to the Harmony Meadows trail and Symphony lake. Continue onwards up through the Symphony bowl to Flute via the Musical Bumps trail. From there continue South East past Oboe and the Singing Pass intersection picking up the trail to Russet Lake.
  3. The most spectacular way in. From Peak Chair pick up the High Note trail keeping views of Cheakamus lake on your right. Connect with the Musical bumps trail at Flute and continue down towards Oboe and the trail to Russet Lake.


The Kees & Claire Hut at Russet Lake is a project of the Spearhead Huts Society, a non for profit organization and registered Canadian charity. The park use permit is held by the Alpine Club of Canada – Whistler Section.

The hut is named after Cornelius (Kees) Brenninkmeyer & Claire Dixon. A young couple who died accidentally on January 4th, 2007 while on the Wapta ski traverse near Lake Louise, Alberta.

The hut will provide comfortable, low cost ($24-40 a night) year round shelter for hikers and backcountry enthusiasts alike. 36 bunks with full cooking facilities, storage, solar energy and an eco friendly waste water treatment system.

Two more huts are planned along the Spearhead Ski Traverse at Mt. Pattison and Mt. Macbeth connecting the Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. Project costs are funded entirely from donations. $6M is budgeted.


Volunteer for the Spearhead huts project:

Facebook Spearhead huts project:

Project overview:

*The World Ski and Snowboard Festival combines 6 days of non-stop events and action on and off the slopes. From music, art, photography, filmmaking, ski and snowboard competitions to non-stop nightlife.

Whistler Wold Ski & Snowboard Festival:

Facebook Whistler Wold Ski & Snowboard Festival:

**Passive House (Passivhaus) is an international standard developed in Germany for energy efficiency, which reduces the building’s ecological footprint. It results in ultra low energy buildings that require little energy for space heating or cooling. This is done by focus on energy used to heat a home by creating an airtight structure, having high-quality windows, super-insulation and good ventilation.

Passive House Pemberton:

Passive House Canada:

from Tofino with 💙

this is going to be a short one. A must do trip for anyone visiting BC. Tofino is a small coastal town surrounded by empowering mountains and glorious beaches. I don’t feel the need to write much here, the video says it all.

How to get there:

Across the water:

Connections from Vancouver:

From Vancouver to Whistler / Whistler to Vancouver:

Back on land: Tofino bus operates the major routes on the island:

Where to eat & drink:

Morning breakfast: Common Loaf Bake Shop




Local Brewer:


Fresh fish:

yes this deserves its own category!!

Top Tip: Looking for something to take home? This cool little shop has a variety of works from locally designed jewelry, ceramics, fine art, soaps and candles. The jewelry especially can’t help but take you back to the ocean, no matter how near or far you may eventually be:

Top surf spots:

I’ll let you find your own way… 😉

working at the Whistler Blackcomb Coca Cola Tube Park

If you are looking for a first season outdoor job with the mountain, but are looking for something a little more dynamic than being a Liftie then the Tube Park could well be the place for you!

Be in no doubt this is a 100% team based work environment so if you prefer to work solo, muck around and slack off then move on now. The park’s function, guest safety and your fellow colleagues sanity rely on everyone pulling together and working as a unit through sun, rain, cold and those deep pow days where all we ALL want to be is on the mountain. Start and maintain this work ethic through the season and you’ll find this is a great place to work for your first season in Whistler!

Training typically starts around late November, doors open early December. Full on-site training is given, including cash desk and systems operations if you so wish. A basic first aid medical course is also provided and paid for by the mountain. Accidents will happen so get yourself prepared and train up. In fact I would recommend taking up the opportunity to train up on all that is offered to you.

Wages are currently set at $13 an hour, the rate for the 2018/2019 season could well be higher. Expect to work 4 days a week, averaging 30-40 hours a week. Over the season I averaged 37 hours (inc sick days & days off). Work days are long and physical, staff are in 1 to 2 hours before opening (11 am weekdays – 10 am weekends) to set up the park and 1 hour after closing (6 pm) so typically expect to work 10 hr days. The plus side, the concept of a 2 day weekend is long gone – hell yeah!

The work is physical, during set up and pack down there is a lot of lifting, pushing, pulling and of course snow shovelling etc. Just walking around up and down a hill in snow is in itself tiring. The fun factor for the customers comes naturally from the tubing of which tubes can be pulled together in groups of 4 depending on lane conditions. Expect to have to give ‘that extra push’ or ‘spin’ if the customer so desires. After one or so hours as a Starter this work is physically exhausting. I am fit and after 1-2 hours of giving the full customer experience I was dead – hungry dead hungry! Good news is that if the team is working together, breaks and rotations from station to station around the park should happen smoothly every hour or so, you will get to rest and no, no need to join a gym if you work here! I got lean fast!!

Top Tip: buy the best outdoor work boots and gloves you can afford, your toes and fingers will love you for it.

With the hard work comes the perks (core perks mentioned here). Pierre Ringuette is a great boss, put the work in, support him and your team and you’ll get your pay back. Hot chocolate, tea, coffee, oranges, apples, hand and foot warmers for days! They are just the day to day basics, if you are lucky you may well even be treated to a day of Fresh Tracks – a must Whistler experience!

Last and not least the fun factor. I’ll stick my neck out and say that the majority of the young people coming to Whistler for a ski season are not coming to work essentially. They are coming to get away from it all, have fun and shred the mountain. That’s fine, we all want that, but if your lazy hungover ass starts impacting on the day of your other most probably also tiered hungover cold colleagues then think on. Man up, battle on and help each other out. Respect your team, work as a unit and you’ll have a great time pulling moves to the Tube Park radio, throwing snow balls, creating ‘snow art’ or going for after work beers down in the village…and the best part of all…seeing customer faces light up from fear and trepidation to bursts of laughter and joy after a ripping a tube down the hill – smiles for days that skip no generation. This video and the smile on the child’s face at the end sums it up perfectly 🙂 #happydays Coco Cola Tube Park team 2017/2018 thanks guys 🙏

how to get a ski season job in Whistler

ok I am going right off the bat with this one. For the most part if you do not already live in Whistler/North America you are going to have to commit big for this trip even before leaving the comfort of your own couch. Accept that now or look elsewhere. If you are still reading let’s start to look at the ‘how’.

I am going to focus this post mostly as a hints and tips guide for those not already living in Whistler, i.e. those most in need. Hopefully this goes some way to point you in a few right directions and helps eliminate some of the minefield of questions you probably have buzzing around your head.

Let’s kick off.  You essentially have two early choices to make.

1. Working for the Mountain, Whistler Blackcomb (WB)

By working for the mountain (now owned by Vail Resorts) you will enter yourself into the volume jobs market. Lift Operations, Tube Park, Parking, Maintenance, Ski School, Snow School, Guest Services, Retail, Food and Beverage. Apply early enough and you are pretty much guaranteed a job of some kind (base rate for 2018/2019 $13/hr*), staff accommodation (2017/2018 season $12.65** a night) an Unlimited Ski Pass worth $1,289 and access to a wide range of various free or heavily discounted mountain events and activities. I can only say that working for the mountain is great for your first season! The support team at HR (The Cabin) is second to non as are the team at Staff Accommodation  at Glacier Lane. The pay is well under par, but balance that out with the subsidised staff accommodation, the unlimited lift pass, the range of events, competitions, discounted meals and activities etc. etc. it’s a win! The list is almost endless, you will get out as much as you put in so if you choose to go this route max it and get involved as much as you can.

WB jobs list:

Top Tip: research all the different jobs available, think about what brings you joy, in-door or out-door and imagine doing it for 5 months straight 4-5 days a week, 35-42 hrs per week. That should help bring it down to a short list. Then apply the ‘zero f**cks’ given factor ” just get my ass here” and you’ll be down.

2. Working for a private company

The winter jobs in this catagory essentially include all things retail, food and beverage and winter sport tourism. Wages are most certainly better (+$16/hr), but you have a zero chance of getting staff accommodation, although some companies will provide you with a ski pass or at least a discounted one. Working as a server in the bars and restaurants will certainly earn you the most dollar, tips can be crazy especially for the girls, but consider why are you coming here? Is it for the money or something else. For me at least, making a wod of cash was never a focus point.

Job groups:


Ski pass info:

So here comes the chicken or the egg part. How to apply for the job

You can apply to options 1 and 2 almost certainly directly. However most if not all will require a face to face interview and sorry no, video conference is still not widely accepted. If you are living in Europe or Australia for example chances are that hoping over for a quick chat is out of the question. For North America various job fairs are set up across various cities for direct face to face with WB staff which help somewhat. However the rest of you are left up shit creek without a paddle.

WB Partners Programme

The way the mountain get around not having to do face to face interviews for the hundreds of positions available across the mountain and the headache of coordinating that whole interview and accommodation process is by using agencies. Each agency or ‘partner’ typically looks after a particular area.

Top Tip: if you go down the 3rd party route apply early, I mean very early.  February, March, April latests.  These positions fill up fast!

Working Holiday Club


The Working Holiday Club is looking after most of the high volume jobs, i.e. Lift Operations, Tube Park, Parking, Retail and Food & Beverage. Because the volume is so great the vetting process is pretty chillax here and their back end service is pretty much bare bone essentials.  A ticket in is around $2,250*.

Top Tip: Don’t be fooled by the name. Working for a 5 star resort is no holiday, do not come here with the mind set to doss around on the job. Standards are high and tolerance levels low.  The ‘holiday’ part comes from the lifestyle you can lead, being surrounded by the magic of the mountains, the abundance of terrain, epic pow days, the après (questionable vs. Europe) and the night life (pretty decent!). There is a big chunk of party life here for sure, but work is work, just like any other.

Oyster Worldwide


Oyster’s core is essentially about taking care of the Whistler Kids ski school programme. As a result they have a more in-depth vetting processes. A package including getting your level 1 ski instructors course, one nights stay in a Vancouver hostel, transfer to Whistler, a hoodie, a group meal once a month and to be fair an excellent support network UK and local i.e. local rep Tory, should you ever need advice or additional support. Tory is in fact A1 gold, her alone is almost worth the eye watering $8,350* fee. Oyster also have other more basic job roles available including Whistler Kids kitchen staff, hotel work or new for the 2018/2019 season Tube Park, which are all available for around ca. $4,500*.


Alltracks offer a similar program as Oyster, but are more orientated towards the adult/older kids ski school programmes. Expect to pay in the region of $7,800*.

Full list of WB Partners:

So there you have it. If you live outside of Whistler you essentially have to go through these agencies to work for the mountain. Aside from the guaranteed job (provided you don’t majorly screw up the telephone and face to face interviews) is the guaranteed staff accommodation at an unbeatable rate, membership straight into the mountain community and a lift pass worth $1,289*. These companies are affiliated partners of the WB-Vail cooperation, but the fact that is hard to dispute is that aside from the Working Holiday Club which offer a bare bone service, costs-in are high!

Top Tip: Try and get over the cost aspect as soon as you can, work some extra shifts, accept it and make your peace, come get on a plane and come have the time of your life!

There is always more than one way to skin a cat – another way – coming over early

Sure a ‘hop’ over could be an option (return flights around $1,200 from the EU or AU), but you would have to get your accommodation sorted first. Hotels (starting at ca. $500 a week, most at $1,000) and Airbnb is expensive, there are 3 Hostel options, but do not expect to pay the €12-22 euro a night you can get in Europe inc.breakfast. Hostel prices start at around $35-$55 a night excl.breakfast. If coming over in October/November when most of the local job fairs*** are on and paying for short-stay hostels until season starts (generally mid/late November) and hope that you get a slot in staff accommodation is not viable you could look at going for a more mid-term plan and going all out for a season in private accommodation. Rents in shared accommodation generally float around the $750-1,000+ area. However this makes no sense if you are looking for a staff accommodation job and I guess most land lords will have little interest in taking you in for 1 or 2 months (but you never know Sept-Oct is low season).


  1. Whistler Lodge Hostel:
  2. Alpine Lodge Hostel:
  3. Southside Lodge Hostel:

Private rentals:


*all prices in $CAD at the time of print (March 2018). [GBP to CAD @1.8] [CAD to GBP @0.55] [CAD to Euro @0.63] [CAD to AUD @1]

**to be updated once staff 2018/2019 accommodation rates are released

***please cross check the dates

If you have useful comments, hints and tips for newbies to Whistler please leave in the comments section below – thank you 🙂

yoga before breakfast

it was on a cold snowy morning that not for the first time, but in a long time I practiced yoga before breakfast. As part of the Whistler Club Shred programme free yoga classes are provided twice a week at 18 Below Base II. Tuesday’s @5:30-6:30 pm and on Thursday morning’s @6:00-7:00 am. This was the first time I had gotten up so early (5:15 am) to do a yoga class, it was still dark outside, gently snowing and cold!

Upon arrival I was warmly greeted by our yoga teacher Laura. As we started our practice I became fully focussed in the present. There must be something about doing yoga just after waking up that helps the mind focus. Now I come to think about it it makes sense right, the mind is fresh, there is no junk in there from the days activities, it’s a blank canvas ready to begin, new again. As we neared the end of the practice I remember feeling surprised at how focussed I had remained throughout. The feeling was lightening.

Coming to the end posture Savasana my mind always tends to wonder off into a hazy dream. This time I drifted back to my time in Portugal 2017, a different place that was warm and full of light, a place where the sun shone and every practice was accompanied by the gentle sound of the ocean. During namaste I gave thanks to the person who gave me this special memory @Cecilie Ragnhildstveit.

+ shout out to these bad ass Whistler yogi’s: @Laura Davis @Erin Grier

Further info:

Whistler Blackcomb Staff Club Shred Programme:

Surf & Yoga re-treat Portugal:

Further free practices are available at the B7 Yoga Lounge staff housing with Erin Grier on Saturday’s at 6:30 pm & 7:30 pm.

arrival in Whistler & staff housing

After a couple days in Vancouver I joined up with my group and headed north, up the sea to sky highway, route 99 to Whistler. Looking out of the bus window and gazing up onto snow crested mountains it all started to come together. Taking it all in I found myself drifting into to thoughts of my mothers time here. The fact that she had travelled along the exact same road 43 years ago. I felt a connection, that fuzzy skin tingling kind of sensation you often get with a good movie. I felt content and full of anticipation about my arrival in what was going to be my new home. I knew then I had 100% made the right decision.

Whistler Blackcomb (WB) aka the mountain have 3 staff housing sites. Glacier, Brio and Westside. Most units are set up pretty much the same, 4 people per unit, 2 people sharing a room (bunkbeds – yey!). The units are compact and functional. It works. It’s actually ok. Key for me was to have engaging flatmates that were fun, clean, respecting and tidy. I got lucky and we all live together quite easily, happily and stress free. Sure it could be bigger, better, blah blah etc. etc., but it’s not forever, for a short time it works! Rent is $12.65 a day and is billed bi-weekly at $177.10. There is a wax room, small gym and yoga studio all on site. At 18 Below Base II (5 min walk) staff meals are also provided for $7 for a pretty decent sized feed. Combined with various planned activities WB do a great job here.

Roomies. Day 1 photo. From left to right: Jack, me, Scott, Tom.

Some first impressions of Whistler & Blackcomb

Glacier staff housing is ski-in skit-out right onto Blackcomb mountain. For me it’s a 10 minute walk to work. To get into town there is the option of the free number 7 bus (operates 5:45 am – 2:40 am). A walk/run down the village run/staff hill ski slope (5 min) or the option to take the Excalibur Gondola (operates 8:00 am – 6:30 pm).

Best things about staff housing

  1. Your roomies (if you get good ones)
  2. The rent at only $354.20 a month (all bills included)
  3. 100% reliable hot showers with gusto…sooo good!
  4. The rooms are always warm!!

Worst things about staff housing

  1. Your roomies (if you get bad ones)
  2. No oven to cook with (makes cooking options somewhat limitted)
  3. Bunk beds (several factors here!)
  4. Will need a good deep clean when you move in
  5. Internet speed maybe slow to begin with (invest in a new router and/or call the operator)

Extra staff housing info


Bus connections Vancouver to Whistler


Bus connections Vancouver to Pemberton


why Whistler?

Some honest words. Lets face it, it’s probably fair to say a large proportion of the working population that come to Whistler for the Winter season are not really here to work. Work is just a way to be able facilitate spending as much time on and off the mountain as their wallets will allow.

For me I had a slightly different angle.

My mother emigrated to Vancouver in 1974 with her girlfriend to further progress her career as a Physiotherapist and to escape the failing British economy. Post WWII Great Britain had developed into a Welfare state that was loosing its grip on the economy and public opinion. During the early 70’s the trade unions and the miners strikes were holding the country to ransom. Combined with high unemployment and double digit inflation peaking at 20% times were tough for many – I can perfectly understand her decision and respect her courage to leave the UK and seek a better life.

During my childhood my mother would sometimes talk of her life in Canada. Mostly of her long weekend trips out of Vancouver to the ski slopes of Whistler. In that day Whistler hadn’t even been developed. The resort if you could even call it that was operating out of Creekside, it wasn’t until 1978 that the start of the construction of Whistler village even began. During her 4 years in Vancouver she made frequent trips to Whistler and actually met my Biological father, an American at a pig spit roast at the Roundhouse. In 1978 they were married. In 1980 I was born, not in Canada but in Bend, Oregon. It is thanks to this time that I became an American and a Canadian citizen.

I think these stories must have built up in me over the years. I came to Whistler to go back to where it all began. To seek my routes. My intentions were to work, to integrate, to live a mountain life, to let it be the place where I would start anew.

Fact: Whistler Blackcomb is the largest ski resort in North America and the 12th largest in the world with 8,171 acres, 37 lifts and more than 200 trails across a variety of glade skiing, open bowls and 3 glaciers.

working on a horse ranch

Before I made my way up into the mountains I wanted to experience a different side of Canadian life. I was informed about on a surf trip in Spain in 2016 from a fellow workaway who was looking after the hostel there. It works a little something like this: After you’ve payed your $34 USD a year you get access to a global community of people who are looking for workers. The agreement is they offer you food and board and they get the benefit of whatever skills you have to offer – done deal. You can do this pretty much anywhere in the world. This could range from building work on someones house, looking after their kids to working on a farm, a hostel, a yoga camp, a dog rescue centre or in my case a Horse Ranch.

I was lucky enough through my cousins to have grown up spending many of my summers at riding schools in the UK. Mucking out stables, grooming horses and playing around in the hay in exchange for the odd free riding lesson.

That stayed with me into my teens, but drifted away the older I got. However through my adult years and whenever I got the chance (usually holidays) I took the chance to go riding.

Before I left the UK in 2017 I went back to one of my local riding stables and volunteered as a children’s riding assistant for a couple months to brush up on my very rusty horse handling & riding skills.

Working on a horse ranch combined many of the key elements which I identify as my ‘personal key success factors’ or core values. Namely being outdoors in nature, working with my hands and stimulating my mind. In this case I was not only working with the horses, I was also landscape gardening and helping build new horse stables with a team of other workaways/paid staff/contractors.

Normally hosts are after workers who will stay for a month or longer. I got lucky and was accepted for 2 weeks @bark2ranch. For me a perfect length of time to get a different angle on Canada and get back to some childhood roots before starting work up in the mountains.

have you used before. Do you have any tips or advice for others?

a quick taste of Vancouver

If you fly from Europe to Vancouver make sure you get a day flight, the landscapes you will pass over are immense. Flying over the white meets black rocky landscape of Iceland to the pristine white tundra of Greenland and the Northern Canadian Territories is a sight to be seen. Sod paying for the Westjet inflight entertainment, just book a window seat!

Where to get your Social Insurance Number (SIN) in Vancouver

This is essentially the first thing you should do when you arrive if you are new to Canada or travelling on a Work Visa. Without a SIN you can do pretty much nada work wise. If you are a Canadian Citizen arriving for the first time make sure you bring your Citizen Certificate. They will not accept your Canadian Passport as ID. These guys follow the rule book by the letter and won’t budge!

Top Tip:  Arrive early at 8:30 am to avoid a long wait, it gets busy here!

Option 1.

Option 2.


For a quick few days Downtown has everything at your finger tips, possibly also including a Walt Disney movie production going on right outside your front door #granvillestreet .

Somewhere to stay

This hostel has a bit of a funky smell to it, but its cheap, it has its own bar, kitchen, the breakfast is ok and is essentially perfectly fine for a few nights. Location is A1!

Somewhere to drink

This place is about as standard as a typical North American Sports bar diner can get. A decent beer will set you back around $6. Check out the Chestnut Ale, it’s the doozy!

Somewhere to eat

This Japanese restaurant is just awesome!! Open front kitchen, super fresh food together with excellent speedy service.

Friends have also recommend Gastown as an excellent place to go.

You need some TLC after a long flight?

Head here. Steam room and full body soap scrub included in the pre massage ritual!

Something cheaper for a quick massage? Expect to pay $80-120 for 60 minutes. On West Broadway there are many massage therapy places to choose from. Most are by appointment only, but if like me you walk around enough you’ll find one that will take you in at short notice.

A walk to the beach

Vancouver has many beaches and if you are staying in Downtown this one is only a stones throw away, well worth a visit!

Instagram nuggets

You’ll see posters for this place everywhere

Bike ride

Head over in the direction of the Harbour Flight Centre and pick up the coastal path that heads to Stanley Park. There are numerous bike hire companies there so you can easily pick up a day ride.

In quick summery Vancouver is an open liberal bustle of city meets nature. Surrounded by jaw dropping mountains that will inspire you out, but with plenty of beach and park life to keep you in.