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“That Seventies Show

Whistler residents and visitors share their memories of a wilder and crazier time in the valley – and their perspectives on Whistler’s rapid change



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A typical hot dogger would be wearing jeans as his preferred ski attire – a huge contrast from the label-conscious ski crowd of later years.

For young skiers, adult skiing activity was often eye opening, a reflection of a more permissive mountain culture. “(My brother) and I remember seeing wild-haired skiers on Whistler ripping through powder in nothing but tattered jeans and large woolly sweaters, hair blowing in the wind,” said long-time Whistler skier Margot MacEwen. “No hat, no goggles, no gloves, no helmets back then! We once skied on New Year's Eve day and saw young hardcores cracking open bottles of red wine on the chairlift in front of us! I remember the "liquor store" in Whistler was some guy selling booze out of a trailer. Needless to say he was a fairly popular guy.”

Forget politically correct. Skiing Whistler in the ‘70s was not for the faint of heart, especially for little people.

“I remember the women’s “washrooms” at the top of Whistler, just below the Roundhouse,” said one Pemberton resident who has been skiing in Whistler since her childhood in the ‘70s. “I dreaded going in there – which was not made any easier with the standard snow pant overalls that all the kids wore back then. This was well before Blackcomb opened and there was no competition for your skiing dollars in Whistler. The washroom was basically one long outhouse, and there were signs on the back of each stall door that read: ‘Do NOT put ANYTHING other than toilet paper down this toilet. Would YOU like to sit in the SNOW?’ For any person, let alone a seven or eight year old, the tone was a little harsh!”

“Mostly I remember the smell,” said long-time Whistlerite Sara Leach of the mountaintop washroom. “Like sewage that had been percolating under the snow for a few months.”

Pint-sized Whistler memories of this era are a different breed from the “Whistler and Blackcomb Kids” programs of the ‘80s to the professional babysitting services of today. Rainbow Mountain was where many children learned to ski in the seventies before they “graduated” to the top of Whistler. There was a bunny hill and a more challenging hill for the “big kids” and a little cafeteria that was full of kids trying to get warm and often kids crying from their first day of skiing and falling on the hill.