One thing to love about Vancouver is that there is something always to look forward to — as soon as the summer ends, it’s time to look forward to the winter again. For many, October and November are the most challenging months of the year as there’s not a whole lot to do. Vancouver is paradise for winter sports enthusiasts as it offers a range of activities from snowboarding, downhill and cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing, tobogganing, tubing and much more.
Having access to the North Shore mountains within 30 minutes of Vancouver and the famous Whistler only two hours’ drive away means that Vancouver is perfect for people who appreciate the outdoors, by summer and winter. Spending a weeknight sliding down a mountain under floodlights with spectacular views of the Lions Gate Bridge, Downtown and the entire Lower Mainland is one of the greatest things about Vancouver. Go on, try it and tell me how good it feels to live in a city that can offer this. Winter is no longer a dark and dreary time. When it rains in the city, it means it’s snowing on the mountain — so get outside and enjoy what nature has to offer!
It seems a little crazy how people can live in Vancouver and withstand consistent rain from October to April, but not partake in any winter sports. What stops people from participating in the sheer joy of the surrounding winter wonderland? The major reason is cost. Let’s focus on skiing and snowboarding for a moment. Understandably, when people are living on a budget in the city, forking out more than $500 on equipment and clothing can be a stretch. It then costs $30-60 per day (depending on the time of year and time of day) for a lift pass which can make it all a bit too much. Buying a season pass represents the best value; however, all three local mountains offer loyalty cards that reduce your costs for multiple visits. Many people don’t realize how cheaply you can actually get yourself set up for the mountain, so there really is no excuse to go snowboarding in Vancouver — at least a few times. If you’re not completely sold on trying it out, just rent (or borrow) the required equipment. I’ve met many people who have acquired a whole outfit and equipment for $200-300, so anything is possible.
Some suggestions on where to go to get geared up for winter sports in Vancouver:
- Showcase, The Board Room , Comor Sports, Pacific Boarder, all on West 4th Avenue, near Burrard Street. Most of the ski/snowboard shops on 4th Ave have sales with big discounts for last season’s gear, so take a look. It’s a great time to get some value on quality brands.
- Fun in the Sun Clothing (2835 West 4th Avenue). Perfect if you’re on a budget. If you have never tried a sport then it makes sense to keep the investment minimal.
- Sports Junkies (102 West Broadway). Another great place if you’re on a budget.
- Whistler Blackcomb Outlet Store. In Squamish, but also worth a look.
- Don’t forget to scan Craigslist also for new/used equipment. People are pretty honest here so once you take your time and know what you’re looking for, you can get some great deals.
Remember, if skiing or snowboarding doesn’t float your boat, you can still try snow-showing, tobogganing and tubing to get yourself outdoors!
Now to look at venues for winter sports in Vancouver. When you’re beginning, it really doesn’t matter where you are so we focus on the local mountains. Whistler is a little expensive if you’re just starting out, so stay local and try to go at a quieter time. Night boarding is perfect as it has less traffic to distract your learning.
Grouse Mountain is accessible by public transport via the Seabus. The Cypress bus shuttle and Seymour bus shuttle will take you to and from the mountain during the winter season.You have three slopes to choose from: Mount Seymour, Grouse Mountain and Cypress Mountain. Seymour is much cheaper, but further east. Then as you travel west across the North Shore you see Grouse and Cypress along the North Shore.
Your decision on where to go will depend on cost, location and where your friends are going, but there is very little difference between the three mountains unless you are at an advanced level. Seymour has a great park while Cypress has more terrain available.
Season pass information: