accessibleGO Blogs
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Bust Activity Barriers In Accessible Whistler, British Columbia, Canada
By: Tabassum Chagani | September 20th 2018, 9:13 am
Tabassum Chagani

Tabassum is an avid traveler and is passionate about sharing her travel experiences with those who have a bucket list of places to travel but have put a lid on it just because they feel frustrated and overwhelmed at planning and preparation that goes into making travel arrangements keeping their unique needs in mind.

Whistler is an international resort in British Columbia, Canada, that is accessible to all people.  As the Host Mountain Resort for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, accessibility is built into Whistler Village.

Tabassum and friend in a beach wheelchair entering the water

You will find pedestrian-only streets, paved access to the Valley Trail and close proximity to transportation. Whistler’s bus system includes accessibility features such as space for wheelchairs and easy access buses.

Beautiful Whistler landscape with mountains and waterfront

Are You Familiar With Whistler Adaptive Sports?

The Whistler Adaptive Sports Program is a not-for-profit society that provides year-around, recreational programs for people of all ages with disabilities.

Tabassum strapped into a rugged outdoor vehicle

Whistler Adaptive is a center for learning and sports excellence that has a local, regional, national and international clientele and encourages independence, self-confidence, and self-motivation for all of our athletes and participants through outdoor activity.

These programs are available to all locals, visitors from across Canada and anyone traveling to Whistler from across the globe.”

Whistler’s Wealth of Winter Activities for All

Call 1.800.766.0449 to book Adaptive Ski and Snowboarding lessons.

David Munk skis in Paralympic Games

Australian Paralympian David Munk skis with outriggers. Photo credit: Australian Paralympic Committee

Stand Ski or Sit Ski Program

The Whistler Adaptive Ski and Snowboard Program coaches individuals with sensory, cognitive or physical disabilities on Whistler Blackcomb mountain and offers specialized equipment, therapeutic programming and alpine ski instruction for a range of participants. They have a large team of experienced and dynamic instructors and provide lessons for beginner, intermediate or advanced skiers.

Standing skiers have a range of adaptive and teaching equipment to show you how to simply slide on the snow, learn to link turns or master the art of bumps or powder skiing.

An instructor guides a participant in sit skiing

This photo is for illustration.  It is not from Whistler Adaptive.

Here’s how WhislterAdaptive.com explains it in their own words:

  • “Outriggers – which are used for balance – are modified ski poles with a mini ski on the end. The number of tracks left in the snow by skis or outriggers determines the skiing technique the participant uses.
  • Sit-skiing is a popular sport for people with limited lower body strength and people who use wheelchairs, including those with paraplegia and quadriplegia, bilateral lower extremity amputations or developmental disabilities.
  • Sit-skis have a moulded seat (bucket) with an adjustable back positioned on a metal frame with a large shock absorber. Mounted with a binding to either one or two skis, there are outriggers that are either used as poles or are fixed to the sit ski frame. For those who lack balance to hold themselves up, the sit-ski is fit to allow an instructor to maintain control of the ski.
  • Whistler Adaptive has a full fleet of both bi-skis and mono skis available to help you learn how to sit-ski independently.”

If you’re less interested in learning new skills and prefer just to enjoy the mountains with friends and family, a guide can assist you with that too.

Adaptive Snowboarding

The Adaptive Snowboard program utilizes the entire area of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, including the Magic Carpet Learning Area, green to black runs or Terrain Park. Adaptive snowboarding equipment is available for people with physical disabilities. Safety equipment is utilized for beginners as they get used to sliding on the snow and maneuvering one piece of equipment. Certified snowboarding instructors and staff create lessons suited for every individual to ensure that every experience is safe, friendly and fun.

Adaptive Nordic Skiing

If you love breathtaking landscapes, consider Nordic Skiing with Whistler Adaptive.

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Nordic skiing, also called “cross-country skiing,” is a lot like hiking trails but done while skiing in snow trails instead.  

Here’s what Whistler Adaptive offers in their Nordic Skiing program:

  • “The instructors in the Nordic Skiing program take you through Whistler’s Lost Lake trails which are centrally located near Whistler Village or to Whistler Olympic Park in the beautiful Callaghan Valley, where over 50 kilometers of cross-country ski trails are expertly groomed for classic, skate and sit skiing, ranging from beginner to Paralympic calibre.
  • Nordic sit-skiing is great exercise, which can be practiced with friends or independently. Sit-skis have a moulded seat (bucket) with an adjustable back positioned on a metal frame that is mounted on bindings for two skis. The Nordic sit-ski can be used for participants with cognitive disabilities, limited lower body strength and people who use wheelchairs. Whistler Adaptive’s Nordic coaches are trained in adaptive Nordic skiing, ensuring athletes use proper body alignment, climbing techniques and speed control.”

Whistler is not just a winter resort.  There are lots of year-round and seasonal activities you can enjoy as well.

Whistler Zipline Tours

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Superfly Ziplines are located about 10 minutes north of Whistler village in the Cougar Mountain area. Superfly Ziplines use a sit-in harness and has a unique system that allows two guests to ride side-by-side, each on their own cable. Imagine…

  • Flying through the forest on an exhilarating high wire adventure – no experience required!
  • Gliding over spectacular creeks and through majestic old-growth trees on a guided tour
  • Learning about Whistler’s ecology and wildlife
  • Laughing out loud with the whole family
  • Feeling free as a bird with high-quality safety systems and expert supervision

Whistler’s Wealth Of Summer Activities For All

Hiking In A Trail Rider

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Whistler Adaptive caters to each individual depending on their ability. Trail Riders allow people with mobility restrictions to explore Whistler’s beautiful hiking trails with the help of two volunteers navigating the Trail Rider.

The large single wheel is able to take the seated rider along narrow trails and over roots and rocks with comfort, while hand brakes for the navigator make for easy descents after climbing to mountaintop viewpoints. Cummerbunds and straps can be used for extra support, while storage space is available for any necessities.

This innovative adaptive equipment takes accessibility to a whole new level allowing the entire family to enjoy the alpine together!

Biking and Hand Cycling

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You will find a variety of biking programs, ranging from cruising the Valley Trail to tackling Whistler’s off-road single track trails. Whistler Adaptive biking programs are for everyone with cognitive, sensory or physical disabilities.

Whistler has a range of paved and gently graded trails for novice to experienced riders. You can rent a hand-cycle and tour the town with friends or take a guided hand-cycle and bike tour with a Whistler Adaptive volunteer. They rent hand-cycles for kids and adults, including a 14-speed cruiser with mountain drive or a 28-speed racer with freewheel crank.

These hand-cycles are perfect for individuals with mobility or balance issues. You use your arms rather than your legs and the cycle has a low center of gravity. Cummerbunds can be used for support around the legs or core.

For visually impaired athletes, Whistler Adaptive can guide you along the Valley Trail, through the Lost Lake Trails or other Whistler mountain bike trails. With high-visibility vests and equipment, we can hit the trails.

Whistler Adaptive Sport Academy athletes go out every week on the Lost Lake Trails with local legend Sylvie Allen. There are volunteers and staff available to support groups split into beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. Athletes work on turning and balance, technical single track or bridges.

Kayaking

Kayaking under the Cambie Street Bridge, Vancouver

From a cabin on the shores of Alta Lake Whistler Adaptive runs their kayaking program.  The cabin is wheelchair accessible with bathroom and kitchen facilities available. Participants can enjoy a mellow day on the lake or experience the thrill of the current on the River of Golden Dreams or Lillooet River.

There is a range of play boats, stable whitewater kayaks, double kayaks and sea kayaks. Participants can progress as you become more comfortable on the water. Double kayaks are available for beginners and those with mobility restrictions.

Adaptions to fit the individual’s needs are available whether it is support for your core or straps to help you hold and maneuver the paddle.

Adaptive Paddleboarding

Adaptive paddle boarding is reportedly the fastest growing sport for people with disabilities. Once you try it you will know why.

The Onit paddleboard is a special design for wheelchair use. It is a modified stand up paddleboard with outriggers and features an all-terrain surf chair that locks into place, and a custom carbon fiber paddle (quad raps are available for anyone with limited dexterity).

Adaptive Sailing

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Sailing is both accessible and inclusive.  People with disabilities can enjoy independence and freedom in a recreational activity or a competitive high-performance endeavor. The program does not segregate participants according to their physical abilities, people with disabilities directly compete against able-bodied people.

Contact me at tabassum@travel-for-all.com, phone 604.715.5208 for all your Accessible Travel needs.

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