Ski Resort Series: Cypress

Cypress is probably my most skied resort in BC after Whistler-Blackcomb, but I’ve never found the time to write about it because I rarely ski there in the day. When we first moved to Vancouver, we made a few trips up the mountain for Saturday skiing, but it’s such a popular place, it hardly seemed worth it. Since then, I’ve been up on the occasional weekend, but always for snowshoeing. Unless you get there super early, you will have to walk a long distance to get to the resort, so come prepared. I once did the whole walk from the lower lots in ski boots and my feet just about died, so bring a bag to pack your other shoes with you, it’s worth it.

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This might lead you to believe that I don’t really like Cypress, but in fact, I do actually really like skiing there. There are three resorts located in very close proximity to the city: Cypress, Grouse, and Seymour, of which Cypress is the largest. Cypress actually spreads across two mountains: Black Mountain and Mount Strachan, with the ski resort nestled in between the two. I like Cypress because even though it gets busy, it’s large enough to spread out the skiers and boarders, unlike the smaller mountains like Seymour, which can become very congested.

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Mount Strachan is the higher of the two mountains and has two key chairs: Lion’s Express and the Sky Chair. There are some smaller chairs that service the bunny hill, but Lions and Sky are the key lifts. Sky Chair is obviously popular because it goes up to a phenomenal viewpoint looking out towards both Howe Sound and the backcountry. It also has the added fun of being a rare 2-person chair, so it feels kind of vintage and is fun to board. It’s one of the best places to catch sunset on the mountain. I also like the Lion’s Express, which I find tends to have the shortest queues because it’s the fastest chair (although the queues often look very long, they just move quicker).

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Black Mountain also has two chairs, Eagle Express and Raven Ridge. I’m a little embarrassed to say I’ve never actually skied the Raven Ridge chair – it’s the last part of the mountain they usually open and it doesn’t have any lightning, so it’s not open for night skiing either. I can’t recall ever skiing Cypress when it was actually open. But I do really like the area accessible from Eagle Express. There are lots of intersecting runs from this part of the mountain. You can also ski the green run, Panorama, which has great views looking down into the city.

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So why do I like Cypress so much, even though I’m loathe to go on the weekends? As my photos indicate, it’s mostly for the night skiing. Cypress is pretty expensive for a lift pass given its size, but it is one of the best value for money if you want to ski from dawn ’til dusk. A full day pass allows you to ski all the way until 10pm! Generally I will just get an evening pass, which starts at 5pm, and ski after work. Being able to hit the slopes when you finish work for the day is one of the coolest parts about living in Vancouver. Pre-pandemic, we would night ski and then grab a beer in the resort around 9pm before heading home for the night.

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The only downside to night skiing is the conditions are often not all that great. There’s no chance to groom the runs during the day, so they’ll either be pretty tore up, or they’ll be very slippery from heating up in the day and then freezing again overnight. But occasionally you get a visit where it’s either snowing while you’re there, or you get above the clouds and get a beautiful inversion down over the city. I love skiing there in March, when there’s enough daylight that you can catch sunset from the skychair on your first run.

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If you don’t have a car, Cypress is accessible by bus, but I think you might be limited to the daylight hours. I have taken the bus in the past, but it’s not a city bus, so it is rather expensive if you’re already shelling out for a full day of skiing. My preference has always been to carpool or take an evo or modo up the mountain. If you drive, just made sure you have snow tires or chains, which are required on Cypress Mountain Road in the winter.

So overall, despite the crowds, I do really like Cypress and try to ski there at least once a year. Definitely recommend it since it’s so close to the city and does have some truly beautiful views! Sorry for the low quality photos, they’re all a few years old and taken on crappy cell phones, one day maybe I’ll lug my night camera up there for sunset!

Cypress map