12 ways to experience outdoor winter fun close to Vancouver
Winter enthusiasts in Vancouver are lucky. Within easy reach are the snow resorts of Grouse, Mount Seymour, and Cypress on the North Shore, and Whistler Blackcomb. Here are some events to check out this coming season.
Wednesday night racing
Strap on skis and race when the working day is done. Grouse Mountain offers weekly races every Wednesday night starting in January. The resort will provide course safety lessons, coaching, and timed runs for participants until March. Drop-in and seasonal passes are available.
24 Hours of Winter
Ski and snowboard all night, and watch the sun go up over Vancouver. Grouse Mountain opens its doors from sunrise of February 11 to sunset the next day on February 12. More details will be announced later. Last winter, nonstop activities included snowshoeing, ice skating, walks, mountain top sleigh rides, ziplining, and shows. Among the special events last season were a torch parade by skiers down the mountain and a scavenger hunt.
Snowshoe Grind Mountain Run
Grouse Mountain is the site of this fun snowshoeing event in February. It’s a good opportunity for beginners and experts to meet and enjoy the trail together. The competition is open for participants of all ages. Friends and families can come out together for great outdoor fun. In previous years, contestants could choose either a five-kilometre or one-kilometre course. Watch out for more details of the 2017 contest.
Shred for the Cause
It’s an annual fundraiser at the Mount Seymour ski resort. This will be the second year in a row to benefit the Bloom Group Community Services Society, a Vancouver nonprofit that provides services to vulnerable people. From January 23 to March 27, women can ski and snowboard every Monday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. for a minimum donation of $10, with $5 of the lift ticket going to the Bloom Group. Funds raised will support two women’s shelters in the Downtown Eastside: Powell Place and Springhouse. Men are welcome. Lift tickets for men are $33.
2017 TransWorld SNOWboarding TransAM
Mount Seymour is the only Canadian stop of this year’s TransWorld SNOWboarding TransAM. Organized by the TransWorld SNOWboarding Magazine, the North American competition is an opportunity for amateur snowboarders to make a name. The Mount Seymour leg happens on February 25, with riders competing in a park jam format.
Park Jam at Cypress
Athleticism meets artistry in the two park jams scheduled so far at Cypress Mountain this season. Jump, slide, and ride on installed park features like rails and show how it’s done on snowboards and skis on December 17 and February 11. More details to be announced.
Kokanee Valley Race Series
Whistler Blackcomb organizes the downhill race every Thursday throughout the winter season. The contest is open to skiers, telemarkers, and snowboarders. There are gender and age divisions. No racing experience is required. Helmets are mandatory. Award and draw prizes to be won at post-race parties.
Put on the red suit and join hundreds in this fun-filled annual ski event at Whistler Blackcomb. This year’s Santa Day happens on December 17, starting at 8 a.m. Riders ski down the Emerald Express. The first 75 people to show up at the Garibaldi Lift Company at the base of Whistler Mountain in full Santa or Mrs. Claus attire get a free lift ticket.
Peak to Valley Race
It’s the longest giant slalom race in the world, starting from the Whistler Saddle to the valley floor. Marking its 33rd year in 2017, the two-day ski chase happens on February 24 and 25. The course is over five kilometres long, ending at Dusty’s Bar and BBQ at the base of Creekside Gondola. It has a vertical drop of 1,443 metres, with 180 gates. Compare that to the average giant slalom race with a drop of 250 metres and 35 gates. Co-ed teams of four compete in the race. All participants must be at least 19 years old.
Sigge’s cross-country ski loppet
The event takes place at the Whistler Olympic Park in the Callaghan Valley on February 25. It’s open for all levels and ages of cross-country skiers. The cross-country skiing event sponsored by Sigge’s Nordic Ski Shop is called P’ayak, short for the Squamish word P’ayakentsut, which means “a place to train oneself physically”. On its website for the event, Sigge’s describes what to expect: “It’s a toss up whether skiers will lose their breath on the climb up out of the Olympic stadium, or from gasping at the breath taking views of Black Tusk and the Brandywine mountain range.” Children five to 12 will have their own course on easy terrain.
Whistler Pride and Ski Festival
The annual Whistler Pride and ski festival marks its 25th year from January 22 to January 29. It’s one of the biggest and best LGBT ski weeks in the world. Snow sports, pool parties, and shows are part of this celebration that welcomes thousands from across the world.
Robson Square ice skating
Staying in town doesn’t mean skipping out on all the fun. Located at the heart of Vancouver’s shopping district is Robson Square, which offers free skating for the season. Partially covered by a dome, the outdoor ice rink will be open from December 1 to February 28. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. from Friday to Saturday. Skate rentals are available. Children from Grade 4 to 7 can sign up for free skate and helmet rentals.