Looking Back at Whistler: 1970


Last week we celebrated the 40th anniversary of Blackcomb Mountain’s official opening in 1980, so this week we thought we’d look further back at a few of the things that were new on Whistler Mountain and the Whistler area in 1970, when the area was constantly growing and changing.

Though they weren’t having to finish new lifts or set up mountain operations from scratch, the summer and fall of 1970 were still a hive of activity on Whistler Mountain, with changes being made to runs, lifts, and facilities for the upcoming season.  Many of the runs had grooming work done such as flattening some steep pitches and clearing trees, stumps, and boulders.  The lengthening of the Green Chair was accompanied by the cutting of a new run and the widening of both Jolly Green Giant and Ego Bowl.

This photo was used as the cover for the Garibaldi’s Whistler News of Winter 1970/71. Whistler Mountain Ski Corporation Collection.

While the Green Chair was extended, the Valley T-bar, described as “the forgotten lift at Whistler,” was being moved up the mountain to run parallel to the Alpine T-bar.  The Alpine T-bar provided access to some of Whistler’s most popular terrain: Harmony Bowl, T-Bar Bowl, and (with a bit of traversing) Whistler Bowl.  It was hoped that the addition of a parallel lift would shorten the lift lines.

Another lift, the Blue Chair, gained a “high-speed” loading ramp and a few new trails, with one being cut from the bottom of Harmony Bowl, another from the base of Blue Chair over to the Green Chair, and Dad’s Run (now Ratfink) cut adjacent to Mum’s Run (now Marmot).

Roger McCarthy gets into some deep snow on the side of Dad’s Run.  Whistler Question Collection.

Indoors, the Roundhouse received some substantial upgrades, most notably electricity.  Propane heaters were replaced by diesel-powered electric heaters.  A “new modern electric food preparation” area was installed alongside increased seating capacity, which opened up new hot food options at the top of the mountain that winter, such as French fries, chili, stews, soups, hot dogs, and even “shake and bake” chicken.  For the first time, the Roundhouse offered breakfast as well, from a continental breakfast to cold cereal to hot porridge.  While it may not have been considered gourmet cuisine, these new offerings greatly increased the on-mountain dining options.

Rudi Hoffmann prepares the steak at a Rotary luncheon.  Whistler Question Collection.

Down in the valley, a new dining option opened up that, though now closed, is still talked about in Whistler today: Rudi and Merrilyn Hoffmann’s Mountain Holm Steakhouse.  Rudi Hoffmann, who had completed his three year apprenticeship in Germany, had worked as the head chef at the Christiana Inn on Alta Lake during the 1969/70 season before opening his own restaurant at Nesters late in 1970.  The Mountain Holm Steakhouse invited guests to “relax in an European atmosphere with good food at moderate prices” and, by the holiday season, were busy enough that reservations were recommended.  They even offered a traditional European Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve, featuring goose, dumplings, and a homemade Christmas pudding.

All these changes would have made the 1970 season rather different from winters that came before.  While each season may not bring new runs or changed lifts, the Whistler valley and the mountains continue to change fifty years later.

5 thoughts on “Looking Back at Whistler: 1970”

  1. Really enjoyed my days in ;69 working at Cheakamus Inn.
    Does anybody know the whereabouts of Rodney “HANK” Roberts, who was manager of the Inn. ??
    Great parties, skiing, friendships.

  2. Hi

    I’m interested in getting in touch with Rudi and or Merrilyn Hoffmann, does anyone have a current Email and or Street Address ?



  3. You forgot to mention Peter Chrzanowski. It was Peter who brought on his own dime Sylvan Sudan to Blackcomb and eventually when those at Intrewest did not man up by asking him. Offering some payment for rhe usr of his name on by far NorthAmerica’s most famous run on its most mighty mountain ( the vertical, from the top at 8,000’ to 2214’ and fall line set it apart but just removed it! As if is locals ever did but then again was Peter getting nothing from it. Peter is our North America’s Sudan having scaled The Wedge for one inc the West Couloir. Down Fissile like a missile is another. Robson. Ipsoot, Yanks talk Glen Plake. From our perspective its a giggle when one compares anything even Jackson to Blackcomb. Too Short , too small. Peter is the first NA tour operatot of hang gliding , para sailiing to get into Cuba after charming the tourism minister.
    As for food Rudi set the bar high but we at Stoneys were doing squid ink pasta with Prawns ( an only in the day dish as under candlelight the inl turns ) and Creme Brulle in 1981. Pascal Tipine as chef with front man JJ Aaron and Simone had their lovely place on Nesters Road.
    I opened Blackcome’s food service up top with no food cost as Aspen with Wolfegang and his Venison Chili? I served soup Poulet al la Raine thickened with pureed chicken and mushrooms. Pot Pies came with one skibrand logo in pastry.
    Veg chilli, dried fruits i the rice crispy squares and omg the day I put chocolate chips in the muffins! What are you thinking, theybetter sell ect. Carrot cake 24 of them in the Blakesly processor that was so heavy a double roter Sykorski chopper had to bring it up . Its catch? Concentrated Oj in the cream cheese icing. Whats all the sour cream for? Why Mexican chocolate cake and yes i do need that chocolate, cinnamon in the octagon wrapping.
    At Blackcome in 85 when the Dopplemayer quads set us totally apart forever we had Saide fresh from the Thai Royal kitchens making Timbales, Quinelles and souffle’s at Christines where snowslippers were offered as you boots got warmed, resident hollywood star. Lois Lane as our upper town drunk as she’s steal glasses of white wine off tables. They had busboys to to run interferance untill I suggested we pour somecheap Chard into a Chablis bottle and she can go to the bar for vino. One of her high faluten frinds blurted out That not Chablis. Oh isnt it I hissed! Her and then Barbara Streisand now husband the other . Sat quietly , had what wine you suggested snd tipped 20% which then was huge. In my poss of head waiter I got to take care of Linda Ronstad during one mnt top concert

Leave a Reply