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Blackcomb’s Arthurian legend



Looking closely at some of the names on Blackcomb Mountain, there is a theme that has developed over time as if by fate.

It's a connection to a legendary place called Camelot, where the Knights of the Round Table fought fierce dragons in their search for the Holy Grail, much like present day Whistler locals fight tourists in their quest for fresh powder.

It definitely wasn't predestined that there should be certain connections between a handful of ski run names, the gondola, the bar at the bottom, the children's castle and the fabled legend of long ago.

Most people don't even make the connection. But the parallels are there.

King Arthur's Camelot was a magical place unlike any other and some say the mountain has that same kind of magic – the kind of stuff that transcends earthly realms.

Perhaps the first clue to Blackcomb's magical connection was during the 1987/88 $26-million expansion in which the Wizard chairlift was revealed, in addition to Solar Coaster and 7 th Heaven.

The later names have their roots in traditional Blackcomb folklore.

Solar Coaster was named in a competition and it was Rob Boyd's sister, Sue Boyd, a ski patroller at that time, who came up with the winning name.

7 th Heaven was christened by Hugh Smythe. It was Lift No. 7 on Blackcomb and Smythe recalled a liftie greeting him years earlier at the top of Stevens Pass on a wet, miserable day saying: "Welcome to 7 th Heaven."

But the origins of the Wizard are a little less clear.

It may have something to do with the fact that the three lifts combined were the first super-fast detachable lifts on the mountain that could take skiers to the top of Lift #4 in 14 minutes as opposed to 40 minutes.

"The Wizard can do anything and can send you anywhere with the beam of its wand," said Arthur De Jong, mountain planning and environmental resource manager at Whistler-Blackcomb.

And the name may also have been chosen for its appeal to younger skiers, he added.

Whatever the reason, the name worked and so began Blackcomb's connection to the Arthurian legend.

Merlin's Bar and Grill, at the base of Blackcomb, was also built during this expansion.

The Merlin of the Camelot story was the young King Arthur's tutor. Throughout the legend, Merlin is seen as a protector, a magician and a prophet, involved in all aspects of Arthur's realm.

He was the wise wizard who organized the infamous sword-in-the-stone contest, which resulted in Arthur becoming the King of England, for only the rightful heir could pull the sword from the stone.