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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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“Skiing on Rainbow Mountain was a thrill when I was seven or eight years old, and now, driving by the hill, which in my mind was so overwhelmingly high, it looks like a bunny hill,” said North Vancouverite Jennifer VanderMye, who was a frequent Whistler visitor with her family in the ‘70s.

“I remember my dad getting so annoyed at how our mitts were torn to shreds from the rope tow at Rainbow,” said Leach. “He finally told (my sister) and I that we couldn't get new mitts until we graduated to the big mountain.”

The lodge/lunchroom (at Rainbow) smelled of damp wool,” said MacEwen. ”I remember drinking tiny hot chocolates in Styrofoam cups; the rope tow breaking and all kids sliding backwards and panicking (me included), crashing into one another, screaming, skis crossing. My dad waving to me at the bottom as I boarded the rope tow on my own for the first time.”

But the day came for skiing the big mountain sooner or later, much to the pride of Kodak-toting parents. Unfortunately, along with the excitement of skiing Whistler for the first time, came the tedium of waiting in gargantuan line-ups at the Creekside parking lot. And the liftees did not always kid-glove children as they do today.

“I remember being thrown into the chairlift by the liftees, who often had cigarettes dangling from their mouths,” said one Pemberton resident of her childhood ski days. The good memories? “Making up songs with my sister and friends as we waited in the gondola line on those hole-y metal stairs. Being proud of meeting the grown ups and other big kids at the light station. Throughout all the changes that Whistler has undergone, the best memories have always been about the mountains themselves and skiing with my family, from Rainbow to Blackcomb.”

“The ‘70s were a time when we all piled into the car without any cares (and no booster seats either) and hung our backpacks with cold sandwiches from trees by the Roundhouse,” said VanderMye. “I hated getting up early to make a lunch. I remember those “hot spot” heat packs that we placed in our mitts to stay warm on the lift. I remember getting scolded for banging my skis together on the lift for fear they would fall to the earth below. I remember that actually happened one time and my Dad was furious of course. He had to navigate under the lift to search for my missing ski. That took forever in my mind. I remember I was always desperate for hot chocolate. ‘Just one more run’ my Dad would say. And five or six runs later we'd stop and grab that backpack and eat cold sandwiches and ice-cold apples. More prayers for hot chocolate.”