At least once every winter season, we like to enjoy some fresh white powder. Snow, obviously! The crisp winter air and blue skies together with fresh snow are the perfect conditions to go skiing (or in my case snowboarding). In reality, it isn’t always this exciting, especially when you plan a ski trip and find out that there’s no snow. (We had to hike ourselves up the mountain last winter in Switzerland, though we didn’t complain about the view.)
Or when it hits you that you need to get up really early, jump into your cold skiing outfit, make your way to the ski resort, and stand in line to get into a jam-packed gondola.
Let me tell you, all the hassle is totally worth it once you’re up there.
Cypress Mountain greeted us with the most beautiful views of Horseshoe Bay. This is the coastal mountains of British Columbia in their full glory. I’m blown away every time I get off the lift and have a view out over the Pacific Ocean all the while sliding down a slope.
If you get up early enough, you can get the entire slope to yourself and can take up all the space you would like to cruise down the hill. As a skier, I couldn’t get downhill fast enough and back on the lift. As a snowboarder, I have a slightly different approach and like to sit down every once in a while to enjoy the view (in other words, catch my breath).
The snow conditions were just perfect. Fresh, light powder, glittering in the sun, making trees look like fairy tales. Who could resist soaking up the winter sun here for a minute or two?
On the hill, the winter sun can be quite warm (and the reflection of the snow makes it a sunscreen mandatory zone) but on the lift, it can get windy and cold fast.
A few runs and hours later, we decided to get a hot chocolate in the hut and relax a bit. After all, we had come here early, enjoyed a few runs having the slopes to ourselves, and didn’t mind the crowds slowly taking over.
Warmed up and newly motivated, we decided to explore the other side of the resort, Black Mountain, and make our way down runs we hadn’t been on before. By the end of the day, the morning clouds and fog had disappeared completely, leaving us with the most astonishing views of the sun setting over Vancouver Island and the Pacific Ocean.
If you’re thinking about hitting the slopes in Vancouver, here are a few tips on where to go. All of the listed ski resorts offer detailed snow and weather reports on their websites as well as live views, which can be very convenient when deciding if it’s worth getting out of bed early.
Vancouver has three popular local mountains.
- Grouse Mountain is closest to the city and offers beautiful views of downtown Vancouver. It’s easy to reach with public transport but can get quite busy and you need to take a gondola from the base to reach the ski resort. It is the smallest of the three local mountains. Unlike some of the large ski resorts I’m used to in Europe, they offer night skiing which allows you to walk around the city during the day and still enjoy a few rides after late into the night. Due to the close proximity to the city, Grouse Mountain is definitely the best choice for people who are only in town for a few short days.
- Cypress Mountain is only a very tiny bit further away and for those without a car, you might want to look into Cypress Coach Lines. The views are equally as breath-taking as from Grouse Mountain but the skiing area is larger with two different mountains, thereby offering a wider variety of runs for all skill levels. There is night skiing on both mountains. I personally like Mount Strachan best for views of Horseshoe Bay during the day and Black Mountain for night skiing as the runs are well-lit.
- Mount Seymour is the third of the local mountains and is the furthest east of the three. Just like on the other mountains, the views out over the city are amazing. To get there, you would need to drive or take the Mount Seymour Shuttle bus. Similar to Grouse Mountain, they offer a nice variety of easy runs as well as night skiing.
If you are a true ski aficionado, the local mountains may seem a bit tame and crowded. If you are in town longer and have the time to drive north to Whistler, you won’t be disappointed. Whistler is one of the largest ski resorts in North America and has everything to offer that a winter-loving heart would desire. The resort encompasses two mountains, Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain, which are connected with a Peak 2 Peak Gondola. You can spend an entire day skiing and still won’t have seen every run there is.
What is your favourite skiing region?
What about these ones?