If you followed the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, BC at all, you’d know that many of the ski/snowboard events took place at Cypress Mountain. Given that I’m an Olympic junkie (I covered the 2010 Winter Olympics extensively on Westbound Boarder and even did a consulting project for the Rio 2016 Olympic Committee last summer as part of my MBA program, which was one of the highlights of my life – you can read more about my trip to Brazil here), you can only imagine how excited I was to visit Cypress Mountain, home of the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Last week (following the Christmas holiday), Drew and I packed our bags and headed up North for a quick, 3-day, 2-night trip to Vancouver, BC. While we were there, we checked out Cypress Mountain (read my previous post about Drew’s first time snowboarding!) and spent a day riding the Olympic slopes.
The first thing I have to say about this place is, I was AMAZED that there was a ski/snowboard resort located only 30 minutes outside the city! (From where we were staying in Lonsdale Quay, the drive was even shorter – roughly 25-minutes – but I’m sure it would be a bit longer if coming from the city center). The drive was pretty easy as well; the road was a little windy toward the end, but it was well-groomed and we were able to make it chainless in Drew’s 2-wheel drive Hyundai just fine. And for being located only 30-minutes from the city, I was pretty impressed with the quality of this resort overall.
Once we arrived, Drew went to pick up his rental (Insider Tip: If you do plan to rent at the mountain, arrive early – We waited in line for Drew’s rental for at least 30 minutes, and as we walked out the line had nearly tripled). We parted ways when he went to join his lesson group, and I headed up the lift on my own to conquer the slopes.
I learned that Cypress mountain is actually a compilation of two separate hills – Mount Strachan and Black Mountain – but it is easy to access both sides from the bottom. I started off on Mount Strachan by taking the Lions Express Quad Chair up (the main lift on this side of the hill) and then I hopped on the double Sky Chair lift to go straight to the top. Insider Tip: If its open, try to head straight to Sky Chair your first few runs up – it is definitely the best skiing at Cypress by far, and the runs got pretty chopped out by the afternoon. There are some really fun tree runs and small bowls in this area, so I’d recommend spending a good amount of time here riding through Gibson’s Glades and Tomcat, etc. before you move on.
Black Mountain is home to the Cypress terrain parks – there are 5 total, from what I could count – although when I went through the parks consisted of mostly rails (either too easy to be fun, or too tough for me to want to attempt on that particular day – there wasn’t really anything in between). All in all, the parks were pretty lackluster, so I didn’t even really bother with this area (however, I must also note that it was still fairly early on in the season when I visited Cypress, so I’d assume that the parks would gradually get better as the weather and base snow level progressed).
Additionally, the weather was a little finicky (it started out reeeally foggy, but ended up being a nice day), and in talking to some locals I learned that Cypress is often more foggy than not, so make sure you plan accordingly when you go (don’t forget your clear goggles!) And I was actually pretty surprised with how warm it was – not so warm so as to melt the snow, but warm enough to not need all the layers I had packed with me.
What Cypress is really known for is its night riding, and I began to notice while I was there all the lights for night zones. It was practically the entire mountain! Even though we went during the day, I could see Cypress as being a great place to go at night (I can only imagine that this is where all the locals go as soon as the 5pm work bell rings).
All in all, Drew and I had a really great time at Cypress. Priced at $60 for a full-day ticket, the experience was a great deal (we only rode a half-day but still feel like we got our money’s worth). However, don’t expect a massive resort when you go. With only 6 total chair lifts and a peak elevation of 1440m (4720 ft), lifts are short, and ride-time is even shorter. But despite the small size, we still had tons of fun, and the terrain was pretty versatile. In other words, don’t go out of your way to plan a full on snowboard trip to Cypress (especially since Whistler is only an additional hour past Vancouver – a no brainer decision!) but if you ever find yourself Vancouver come winter, definitely make sure you check it out!