Spring Skiing on the Vancouver Mountains Begins

Cypress2014-17After a challenging season for Vancouver ski mountains, the snow has finally arrived – better late than never. March is serving up some of the best conditions of the year, and ski and snowboard fans are betting on a solid April.  I decided to check out the “spring skiing” vibe at Cypress over the weekend.

Well, I guess it wasn’t exactly spring skiing.  No one was in a t-shirt, let alone a bikini top.  But the sun was shining under a blue sky on Cypress Mountain and the temperature at the base was a balmy 5 degrees.  Better still, the mountain had been dumped with 8 centimetres of fresh snow in the last 24 hours.

I was also on a mission – to ski my first black diamond run. Continue reading:
Spring Skiing on the Vancouver Mountains Begins

Metres of Fresh Snow on Vancouver Mountains: Exploring Grouse

Photo credit: lawrence's lenses | Flickr

Photo credit: lawrence’s lenses | Flickr

After a snow drought most of the winter, the floodgates have opened.  The last several weeks have seen the Vancouver mountains blanketed with metres of fresh snow.  For skiers who have waited patiently, the time is now to hit the slopes.

I checked out Grouse Mountain over a recent weekend, on a day when it was pouring rain in downtown Vancouver.  Up on Grouse, however, all that precipitation was light, fluffy snow; in fact, the mountain had been dumped with nearly 25 centimetres of white stuff in the last 48 hours.

Situated only about 15 minutes from downtown, Grouse is known as the “Peak of Vancouver.” It offers 26 runs serviced by four chairlifts, plus two terrain parks. While the mountain may not have the biggest vertical drop or most technical trails in the area (that distinction generally goes to nearby Cypress), it is a great setting for people (like me) still learning to ski, with more than a half-dozen easy green and blue runs.

Continue reading:
Metres of Fresh Snow on Vancouver Mountains: Exploring Grouse

Free Skiing for Anyone Dressed Like Santa, Dec. 14

Photo credit: Stéfan | Flickr

Photo credit: Stéfan | Flickr

Ready to get into the holiday spirit . . . and save some money on the slopes at the same time?

Whistler Blackcomb Mountain is running a rather unusual holiday-themed promotion this Saturday, Dec. 14.  Skiers and boarders decked out in full Santa gear – that includes everything from the pants to the beard – will get a free lift ticket.

Yes, it might be a bit of a challenge to navigate all those black diamond runs in a big red suit. But consider that you’ll be saving the cost of a full ticket, $109 this year.  That’s some serious incentive to look your jolliest.

There is some fine print to bear in mind.   Continue reading:
Free Skiing for Anyone Dressed Like Santa, Dec. 14

Early bird gets the pass: the 2013/14 Vancouver snow season is getting close

Photo credit: J.J. Koeman/Cypress Mountain

Photo credit: J.J. Koeman/Cypress Mountain

One of the best rules of thumb I learned also helped me fall in love with Vancouver winters. The advice was simple: if the temperature is seven degrees Celsius or lower and it’s raining in Vancouver grab your skis or snowboard and uphill because it’s snowing on the  North shore mountains.

Now I warn you, this isn’t a scientific, peer-reviewed statement. It’s an urban myth I heard from a boss who also happens to be a mega-skier. But for the winter of 2011/2012, this simple mantra worked, I headed uphill whenever the weather got cold and rainy and nine times out of ten my boss was right. That season I took more snow days in than I ever had in my life.

Another key to that very successful winter was the early bird pass I bought alongside a bunch of my snow-loving senoritas. As soon as the snow fell, we hit the hills as much as possible on week nights, weekends and the odd week day. “This is the winter I am becoming a snowboarder,” I warned my ancient Burton twin tip.

By late November, carving down Panorama and Crazy Raven at Cypress Mountain faster than you could say, “Winter ale and nachos for après?” My snowboarding improved that season in equal if not better proportions to my beer-and-nacho-eating skills.

All of this to say, in a roundabout way folks, carpe diem and grab an early bird season pass before prices go up soon. You too can entertain fantasies of becoming the next Bilodeau or Ricker on the local mountains.
Continue reading:
Early bird gets the pass: the 2013/14 Vancouver snow season is getting close

Beginner’s Quest for Spring Skiing on Grouse Mountain

GrouseSki-21While cherry blossoms may be blooming on the streets of downtown Vancouver, a few thousand metres above the city, there’s still plenty of snow on the mountains.

It’s spring skiing season on the North Shore mountains.  That precious window of time when you can hit the slopes in a t-shirt and get a tan by the time the day is out.

Or so I’ve heard.  This is my first season on the slopes, so I’ve never actually experienced Vancouver’s legendary spring skiing myself.  But on a recent sunny Saturday, I decided to head to Grouse Mountain to see what all the excitement is about. Continue reading:
Beginner’s Quest for Spring Skiing on Grouse Mountain

Cypress Mountain for Ski Virgins

IMG_0624Vancouver isn’t an easy place to be a ski virgin.  Lots of locals in the city have been on the slopes since they could walk and think nothing of flying down black diamond runs or doing the occasional backflip.

For newbie skiers, however, the slopes can be a foreign and profoundly intimidating place.  First of all: You need the skills.  Skiing – unlike strolling the sea wall – requires a bit of training if you want to survive in one piece.  Second, you need equipment – between boots, skis, poles and parkas, it can get a little overwhelming.  Finally, there’s the price factor to consider: With lift tickets starting out around $60, skiing isn’t exactly cheap these days.

Of course, none of these obstacles are insurmountable.  Yet they keep lots of visitors to Vancouver (and even some residents) off the slopes.  This is really a shame.  For a major city, Vancouver has exceptional skiing and snowboarding in its own backyard.  And, to be honest, there’s not an abundance of other outdoor activities going on during the November-March rainy season.

With all that in mind, I set off to conquer my personal ski demons last weekend at Cypress Mountain.   Continue reading:
Cypress Mountain for Ski Virgins

Telus World Ski & Snowboard Festival 2012 Starts April 13

WSSF at Whistler Village. Photo: WSSF / Mike Crane Photography

Considered by many to be the “defining celebration of Whistler,” the annual TELUS World Ski and Snowboard Festival (WSSF) is both a ten-day showcase of the latest progressions in the skiing and snowboarding world and Canada’s largest free outdoor concert series. The festival also covers every facet of mountain culture, transforming Whistler Village into an arts mecca, with additional events in fashion and film, plus the famous Whistler Dogfest.

Continue reading:
Telus World Ski & Snowboard Festival 2012 Starts April 13