Vancouver Outdoors

The North Shore Mountains
The North Shore Mountains

Homesick Scandinavians started touring and building ski jumps in the mountains above Vancouver in the '20s. Cabins and chair lifts followed. These North Shore mountains are the city's winter playground where kids, parents and singles enjoy themselves and work off stress.

Before Whistler-Blackcomb came into existence, locals learned to ski here, and many still prefer these mountains because they are both convenient and cheap. (And no mountain in North America has better lodging at the base.) If you're up for a bit of a drive, you might just want to check out Whistler-Blackcomb, which boasts the greatest vertical drop in North America (5,280 feet). It's located about 75 miles north of Vancouver in the mountains of the Coast Range.

From north to south, the closest resorts to Vancouver are Cypress Bowl, Grouse Mountain, and Seymour. Their starting altitude is 1500 feet higher than Whistler's, but they top out 2500 feet shorter. During peak season, according to Cypress's director, Kent Rideout,"the mountain averages a quite sufficient 10 feet of snow." The 1998-99 season, however, a stupendous one for Pacific Northwest skiers, topped out at many times that.

Cypress at 4750 feet, with the most vertical feet (1750) and twelve miles of x-country trails, is for the more serious. There's also a terrain park and half pipe for snow boarders. Rideout says the plan is to install the area's first high-speed chair to the top in the next few years.

Grouse , within 15 minutes of Stanley Park by city bus, has a 3700-foot tramway, three restaurants, an omni-theatre and 8,000 square foot ice rink. There's 1200 feet of vertical and seven black diamonds. It's the tourist's first choice. When the snow melts, the 21-speed mountain bikes come out, and guides take parties to the top, then down the 15 miles of switchback roads and single tracks.

Seymour 's a little easier, making it a good destination for beginning and intermediate skiers. The base elevation at Seymour is 3050 feet and its peak elevation is 4165 feet, making for a vertical drop of only 1115 feet. It's got 600 acres dedicated to skiing, with 21 trails. The longest run is 7920 feet. The resort is located about 30 minutes from downtown Vancouver.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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