WHISTLER, B.C. — Construction of the Cloudraker Skybridge above Whistler, B.C., was completed in 2018.
And for four years, I had been pining to cross it. Not just because it had a name that sounded like a 1980s James Bond movie, but because it simply looked so cool.
I’ve talked to countless people who love Whistler and have visited there for years who don’t know about this bridge — partly because they close it during the winter ski season due to ice and wind. It’s open from mid-May to early September.
And if you’re not completely freaked out by heights, you have to do.
I tried to go up to the bridge in 2019, but I couldn’t talk a family member into going up there with me. I went back to Whistler in September 2019 to discover it had just closed for the season like literally the day before I arrived.
Then, 2020 came along and we all know what happened in 2020 … and lingered on into 2021.
Finally, in early 2022, Canada announced there would be no more quarantine for people entering from the U.S. When I heard the news, I immediately gobbled up a condo in Whistler in August (extremely cheap when you buy months in advance).
Whistler is still very, very busy in the summer, both with sightseers and mountain bikers. I lived in Mammoth Mountain, Calif., in the early 1990s when ski resorts were first figuring out how to make money year-round marketing their ski runs to mountain bikers during the summer. It was a fledgling sport then. And boy, has Whistler ever perfected that marketing as the town is full of thousands of mountain bikers on a typical summer day.
The day I finally got to visit the Cloudraker Skybridge, after four long years of waiting, was sweltering hot. I left as early in the morning as I could because there was a chance of thunderstorms and everything on the mountain gets shut down if there’s lightning.
You first take a big gondola up to the Roundhouse Lodge about three-quarters of the way up Whistler Peak. From there, you take about a half-mile hike to the Peak Express ski lift.
Important to remember, this is a lift. Not a gondola. And goes straight up to the top over some jagged spires of rock several thousand feet above the valley floor. It’s not for the faint of heart or people with a fear of heights. I found the lift ride more intimidating than the bridge, though I was honestly thrilled the whole time. Heights have never freaked me out that much.
The Peak Express carries you about another 1,000 feet up to the summit of 7,160-foot Whistler Peak. The Cloudraker Skybridge is right nearby.
The bridge spans about 430 feet to a secondary summit of the mountain. I watched a couple of people really struggle to cross it. When I crossed it, I realized what was spooking them. The bridge is suspended by steel cables. It’s very safe, but it does actually wobble in the middle and you do have to keep a hand on the handrails.
I didn’t expect that at all, but it didn’t bother me once I got used to it.
Once you cross the bridge, there’s a short metal skyway on the secondary peak which provides amazing views of the Whistler village and valley, as well as glaciers and some amazing B.C. coastal peaks.
There’s a short interpretive trail that circles the entire peak, and you can take a route called the High Note Trail that meanders several miles along the back side of Whistler Peak. That trail looked a little too steep downhill for me and I begged off. But if you’re really fit and strong, it looks like fun.
I had waited so long to finally visit the bridge, I didn’t want to leave. I crossed the bridge several times over the entire morning. It was very cool and breezy at the top of the mountain, a good 30 degrees cooler than the village.
The Peak Express ride back down the mountain is especially fun because you get a great view several thousand feet straight down. You have to do a short uphill hike back to the Roundhouse Lodge that wasn’t too bad. The lodge is an awesome place to sit and have lunch or drinks after the journey to the skybridge.
I told the bartender at the outdoors circular bar on the deck, “Man, what a gig you have here.”
It was a place I wished I could have stayed forever.