Thursday, 17 January 2013 3:07 PM
Canada’s British Colombia is known to have some of the best powder in the world, and some of the best slopes are located in the province's biggest city – Vancouver. Cat Hughes investigates...
Vancouver may not be the first city that comes to mind for skiing, but it has three ski resorts less than forty minutes away from the city centre – and Whistler, the centrepiece of British Colombia’s ski resorts, is only two hours away by car.
Winter in Vancouver is different to the rest of Canada. Firstly it's much milder; the mercury tends to stay above freezing and it rains. A lot. Although it may rain for days and days on end in downtown Vancouver, this means serious snowfall in the mountains which is great news for snowsports-enthusiasts.
Cypress Mountain, Grouse Mountain and Mount Seymour are where the locals ski. It’s not unusual to see people carrying snowboards and skis on the buses, ferries, and subways. So far, the season in British Columbia has been outstanding; the snow came early and has kept on coming.
Cypress Mountain, which lies to the west of the city, was one of the locations used for the 2010 Winter Olympics and the resort proudly states, at every possible opportunity, that it’s the home of Canada’s first Olympic gold medals. Cypress is only 30 minutes away from the downtown core of Vancouver. If you do not have a car there is a shuttle bus that costs $23 (£14).
An all-day lift pass is available and the slopes are open until 10pm. Cypress also has some of the best night skiing in Vancouver, so you could do some sightseeing during the day and then head off for some skiing/snowboarding in the evening.
Cypress is where locals ski and board. This means that during the week it can be quiet, so there will be few queues and if you are inexperienced you don’t have to worry about crashing into people; there will be less people to laugh at you falling on your arse (not that they do laugh, Vancouverites are far too polite to do such a thing!). If you want some lessons you can get five days of lessons from $269 (£167). If you are more experienced, Cypress won’t disappoint, there are plenty of black runs and a terrain park to keep you occupied.
All-day lift pass: $60 (£37)
Evening lift pass: $40 (£24)
Grouse Mountain, known as the peak of Vancouver, sits opposite downtown. Grouse, as it’s locally known, is where the cool kids go. It’s easy to get to, there is a regular public bus and the mountain is popular with Vancouver's large student population. Also, this means it attracts more tourists.
Grouse is great for beginners and intermediate skiers/snowboarders. The slopes are gentle but long enough for you to learn on. It may get busy especially on the weekend, but the runs are long and there is more variation. For the more experienced, take the peak chair to the summit and you will find black and blue runs that few seem to venture to. For those who are brave of heart there is the Quicksilver Terrain Park. It’s nearly one kilometre in length and is used as a practice zone for many of the city’s best riders. Grouse is also well known for night skiing, and its lights can be seen from almost anywhere in the city.
All day lift pass $58 (£36)
Night ski pass $48 (£30)
Mount Seymour is to the east of the city, famous for snow-shoeing and for its terrain parks, which are considered to be the best in Vancouver. The parks are not for the faint-hearted; the jumps are big and the landings steep. However, there is a beginner’s park called Mushroom, with gentle jumps and box rails.
Mount Seymour is popular with local families and it’s a good place for kids to learn. There tends to be more skiers in than snowboarders at this mountain – the boarders seem to prefer Grouse Mountain. The best thing about Mount Seymour is the view. On a clear day you can see the towering peak of Mount Baker, an active volcano across the border in the US, and at the top of the mountain you can see downtown Vancouver. If you do not have a car, you can get the shuttle bus from North Vancouver.
All day lift pass $51 (£32)
Family day pass $144 (£91)
Where to stay?
If you are on a tight budget, the HI-Vancouver Downtown is the place to stay. It has a large clean kitchen, clean rooms, and the hostel tends to have great deals on local attractions – including day trips to Whistler.
However, if you are looking for a bit more luxury, then the Loden Hotel is the place to stay. The hotel currently has a deal called Crazy Carpets, where you can stay at the hotel’s Signature King Guestroom, receive a Winter Essentials Kit (two pairs of hand warmers to keep hands and fingers toasty, pocket tissue and soothing lip balm) and a Good Snack Pack, which includes Chef MAC’s signature hot chocolate to-go in a Loden Travel Tumbler, delicious made-from-scratch chocolate chip cookies, apple and cheese with crackers, complimentary Loden Private Cab ride to and from the local mountain, and Snow Park admissions tickets (for two).
Rates starting from $299 (£187)
By Cat Hughes
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