Snow to Surf – Vancouver’s Alpine Wonderland

Photo: Rob Weiss

It never fails to take my breath away! Every time I leave sea level and venture out to the North Shore Mountains I feel invigorated. Perhaps, the feeling is amplified while alpine skiing. On those perfect days, the sun shines brightly; the air is crisp and the snow sparkles. As I raise the chairlift safety bar, lift my ski tips and prepare to unload, a sheer sense of joy comes over me. Moving away quickly from the unloading area, I begin to anticipate the views, and they never disappoint! Imagine panoramic ocean and city views all from the top of a snow-covered alpine run. Awe-inspiring and breathtaking!

Photo: Flickr, Greg Thomas

Craving time in the mountains is a common affliction amongst Vancouver snow enthusiasts, myself included. Ask any competent skier or snowboarder, and they will tell you that nothing beats the thrill of fresh POW and first tracks. Fortunately, we are blessed with three local ski mountains all within minutes of the downtown core, offering up unique and varied terrain. From the uninitiated beginner to the seasoned veteran, I am proud to say our local downhill runs promise an adrenaline rush like no other.

Photo: Rob Weiss

Bundle up, wax your skis, grab your helmet and check out Vancouver’s Big Three:

Cypress Mountain

With six chairlifts, 53 runs and 600 acres of skiable terrain Cypress Mountain offers the most vertical drop and perhaps best snow conditions on the North Shore. The official venue for the 2010 Winter Olympic Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding events, Cypress holds in a special place in our hearts. Check out their First Timer’s Guide for everything you need to know to enjoy a day in the snow.

Grouse Mountain

Known as The Peak of Vancouver, Grouse Mountain boasts 33 alpine runs, four chairlifts and six terrain parks. Locals will insist that while testing your skills at Grouse, you must take a run on “the Cut” arguably Vancouver’s most iconic downhill run. While carving your way down the slope the entire city of Vancouver lies below you. Truth be told, I have yet to complete this run, without stopping to savour the scene below.

Mount Seymour

Family owned and operated; Mount Seymour features 80 hectares of terrain. From gentle, beginner slopes to challenging terrain parks tailored made to test advanced riders, there is something for everyone.

Photo: Rob Weiss

All of our local hills feature lessons, rental packages and night skiing options. Beginners are always welcome, but be warned; once you taste the downhill lifestyle you may become hooked! On the off chance that ocean views and alpine thrills are not quite enough for you, consider embracing the apres-ski scene. I could go on, but I would suggest apres-ski is a story for another blog and another day!

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