Clear your calendars and break out the ski gear, Whistler’s Gaper Day 2015 is coming at you bro!
Last year I pre-wrote my May Outsider columns due to my planned absence on a month-long ski expedition on the other side of the world. In my love letter to what I termed “the best day of the season” I described Whistler’s annual day of tomfoolery on the mountain as “where the Alpine Responsibility Code gets violated en masse” and since the fact that the sometimes lewd behaviour is tolerated, that “Gaper Day holds a special place in hearts of Ski Patrol and Mountain Safety.”
It seems I was a little out of touch.
You see, Whistler Blackcomb (WB) likes to stay family friendly these days, which now means that on Gaper Day your backpack loaded with cans of PBR and Fireball will get confiscated by contracted security personnel when you get on the lift. If you’re cooperative you might be able to pick it up after you download at the end of the day, but the good ol’ days of turning a blind eye to the Gaper Day shenanigans by WB operations staff has come to an end.
After my column ran last year, the then General Manager of Mountain Safety wrote a letter to both me and the editor of this publication, stating:
“Whistler Blackcomb does not tolerate violations of the Alpine Responsibility Code. Uncompromising safety is a core value of our organization and while we want everyone to come out and enjoy the festivities of Gaper Day, we need every guest to adhere to the Code, and especially not use lifts or ski/snowboard when their ability is impaired through the use of alcohol or drugs.”
As “fun police” as the previous paragraph sounds, it does make a point. If I were 10 years younger I’d be crying out in protest, that WB doesn’t know how to have fun anymore. The reality is, it’s a different time for the resort than what it was back in the ’90s and earlier. The Chinese Downhill (mass start, no rules) races that were organized by Blackcomb Ski Patrol are no more. The infamous Crankworx Hecklefest at the Canadian Open DH now sits behind a chain-link fence after an intoxicated individual tripped on his own cape a couple of years ago and tumbled down the rock roll. He was fine, but it seems a company the size of WB can’t have that level of reckless partying going on anywhere on its property. Not anymore, anyway.
Besides, Gaper Day isn’t all about getting wasted (there’s plenty of that during the apres celebration), it’s about dressing up, surfing slush, pond skimming and having as much fun on the mountain with your friends as you did when you were a kid.
Gaper Day may have gone mainstream, but the spirit will live on until the snow melts for good. Let’s pray that doesn’t happen for a while.
Here’s a bit of inspiration from Jamie Bond and the Doglotion crew, the longstanding stewards of Gaper Day.