Whistler and surrounding areas have endless skiing opportunities. From long leg-burning resort laps on Whistler Blackcomb to extreme heli-skiing deep in the backcountry, this place has an incredible amount of terrain to ski. The only problem is that your ski or snowboard days can be limited by daylight hours. Most of us have had an epic day on the mountain that leaves you craving more, wishing the day would never end. Since there is no place to formally night ski in Whistler, the Gibbons Whistler crew teamed up to create a do-it-yourself Whistler night skiing experience. When the lifts stopped spinning they headed into the Whistler backcountry to test a custom built light to go night skiing and the results were rad! Check it out in the video below!
Win Fresh Tracks Breakfast for Two
Want to maximize your ski day? Starting off as early as possible is key! Win yourself two Fresh Tracks Mountain Top Breakfast tickets for an early morning breakfast and be the first ones to shred on Whistler Blackcomb! Check out the Gibbons Whistler Facebook page for details!
An Epic Whistler Night Skiing Adventure
“That was honestly the most fun I’ve ever had on my skis. It’s always been a dream of mine to shred pillow lines in the dark. We had such an incredible crew and it was one of those shoots when everything just clicked and worked out smoothly.”
With a night shoot there is a lot of room for error, and Keaton’s right, this one just seemed to “click” – but not without a lot of preparation!
Before the shoot, Kris Harris, of Beacon Media Group put his engineering mind into night skiing mode and created a custom light with some serious power. Inspired by the Afterglow lightsuit segment by Sweetgrass Productions a few seasons ago, Kris wanted to make a light that could light up an entire line but also be compact enough to fit in a backpack.
“The final design was a handheld light that allowed for our run-and-gun shooting style. The light outputs a whopping 50,000 lumens and is blindingly bright. To give you an idea, 50,000 lumens is equivalent to about 30 truck hi-beams or 250 high-performance headlamps. I built the light out of several 100 Watt LED chips, LED drivers, 25ft of wire and a massive aluminum heatsink to keep it all cool. The whole thing weighs about 10 lbs. and can easily be carried or even mounted on a drone. It took about a day to design, wire, solder and fabricate the light. With $300 in materials and our time, we ended up with light that is brighter than any commercially available unit.”
Kris Harris, Beacon Media Group
With the newly built light, a generator and plenty of snacks, our crew of five set off into the mountains for our Whistler night skiing adventure. First stop was one of our favourite backcountry locations, Callaghan Country’s Journeyman Lodge. We had such an awesome time playing here earlier this season (check out the video!) we hoped we could come back for another round to show off their amazing terrain!
After ditching a few things in the lodge and warming up by the fire we headed out to scout our Whistler night skiing location. While our desired lines were still lit in the sun we photographed them, memorized them and set up a basecamp for all of our shooting supplies.
“Touring with an 80 lbs. generator in your hand? Not your typical shooting experience.”
Ryan Harris, Beacon Media Group
Luckily that generator didn’t have too far to go! With everything in place, we warmed up and fueled up one last time at the lodge before spending the next eight hours skiing and filming in the dark. With excitement levels at an unmeasurable high from our skiers Keaton Carlson and Dean Bercovitch, the crew behind the lenses were feeling the experience but also a bit of nervousness. Ryan Harris explains;
“So many pieces had to come together to get a shot. The light had to be placed in the right spot, the camera in the right spot, the skier had to land their line first try. All things that are easy during the day but very hard at night.”
The crew quickly evolved a system of skinning up by headlamp and yo-yo lapping a playful pillow field that worked flawlessly. Dean Bercovitch, who skis for Armada Skis, LTD Optics, Char Poles, Roxa Boots, Pret Helmets and CSM Whistler shares;
“Turning off our headlamps in the complete darkness was a bit disorienting. You can’t see a single thing, you’re just waiting for Kris to turn on the light and for your line to appear. When the light does go on it’s clear as day. When we scouted the area earlier in the day, the light was flat, but with Kris’s light on at night things were so clear. It isolated the line and features, leaving all distractions in the dark.”
I was lucky enough to get a few sneaky laps in myself and I can honestly say that this style of skiing and snowboarding is unlike any other form of night skiing I have ever experienced. Gathering as a group of friends to create our own version of night skiing was so rewarding. We all woke up late in the morning after a big night of lapping powder filled pillows with Jello legs, big grins on our faces and contentment in our hearts. We even snuck in a relaxing sauna session at Journeyman Lodge before heading back to reality. On the ride out our crew was already thinking about where we could go Whistler night skiing next!
- Journeyman Lodge: Thank you for having us back again! We can’t say enough great things about this place, so instead we made a video.
- Skiers: Keaton Carlson and Dean Bercovitch. These two were stuffed to the brim with stoke and it was contagious. They stomped landings, high fived the film crew and even brought beer to share, we couldn’t have dreamed for better company!
- Beacon Media Group: Working with Beacon for the Gibbons monthly video projects is always such a great experience! Special thanks for building a custom light and filming in some tricky (and cold) situations!
For more inspiration on making Whistler your own, check out the other posts as part of our video series, including our five most recent edits:
- Journeyman Lodge: Whistler’s Hidden Gem – exploring the backcountry from this awesome base camp
- The Return of Winter – embracing winter through snow activities and all things cozy
- The Backcountry Sauna – inspiring you to build a DIY outdoor sauna in the backcountry
- Changing of Seasons – showing off all that Whistler in the fall has to offer
- Alpine Adventures – featuring an amazing day of Whistler heli biking and boarding