No Snow, No Problem: 5 Ways to Enjoy the Vancouver Mountains, Without Snow

Photo credit: iwona_kellie | Flickr

Photo credit: iwona_kellie | Flickr

Take one glance at Vancouver’s North Shore mountains and you’ll probably notice something amiss: snow.  By mid December, the mountains are usually blanketed in white, fluffy snow and full of skiers and snowboarders swooshing down the slopes. This year, however, is a different story.

Never fear.  Not only are two of Vancouver’s three ski resorts actually open for business, but there are plenty of other ways to experience the mountains.  Here are 5 ways to enjoy the Vancouver mountains, with or without the white stuff:

Take a winter hike: Cypress and Seymour Mountains both boast great winter hiking along a network of trails.  Normally, snowshoes would be required but dry conditions this year mean you may be OK with a good set of hiking boots and some crampons if conditions are icy.  Popular, intermediate-level trails include Dog Mountain on Mount Seymour and Cabin Lake on Cypress Mountain. Both of these hikes can be completed in a few hours and offer fantastic views. (Be aware that all winter hiking is challenging and extra precautions are required.) Free

 

Photo from Grouse Mountain

Photo from Grouse Mountain

Zipline through alpine forests: Hold on tight as you whip through the wintry forest canopy atop Grouse Mountain. On this five-zipline course, riders achieve speeds of more than 80 kilometres per hour and dangle up to 70 metres in the air. The adrenalin-pumping, two-hour experience takes riders across the peaks of Grouse and Dam Mountains. $109

 

Photo from Grouse Mountain

Photo from Grouse Mountain

Skate your way through a winter wonderland: Atop Grouse Mountain is one of the largest outdoor skating ponds of its kind on the West Coast.  The 8,000-square-foot pond, surrounded by tall evergreen trees, is just steps from the cozy Peak Chalet, where you can warm up with hot chocolate or enjoy a meal with great views of the city below.  Included with Alpine Experience Pass to the base ($41.95 adult); skate rentals are available for $8

 

Photo from Grouse Mountain

Photo from Grouse Mountain

Get in the Christmas spirit with a trip to the “North Pole”: As part of the annual Peak of Christmas celebration (through Dec. 24), the base of Grouse Mountain – high above Vancouver – is transformed into a little piece of the North Pole.  See live reindeer, visit Santa’s workshop and stroll through the gingerbread village. The backdrop of rocky peaks and soaring Douglas firs, plus the panoramic views of Vancouver far below, make for a memorable experience, with our without snow. Included with Alpine Experience Pass to the base ($41.95 adult); Family pack for 2 adults and 2 kids $79.95

 

GrouseSki-21Ski and snowboard: Despite the fact that mother nature isn’t cooperating, both Grouse and Cypress Mountains are currently open for business.  Thanks to the miracle of modern snow guns, skiers and boarders can enjoy limited runs on Grouse and on Cypress.  And keep your eye on the weather forecast – one good dump of snow could change everything. Grouse lift ticket $58; Cypress lift ticket $49

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