Winter Sights

This past weekend included a return to Cypress park for more snowshoeing, but this time there was (some) sun in the forecast so the target was the summit of Hollyburn Mountain with hopes of getting some views of Vancouver, the north shore mountains, and the Howe Sound.

The Hollyburn trail gets steep pretty fast, with many people electing to remove some layers near the beginning after the first couple of hills. The bulk of the trail is a series of steep climbs, each of which provides a nice view of what you have accomplished thus far.


View from the top of an early section, just getting started on the >400m elevation change

There were some clouds scattered throughout the sky on Saturday. Those that were around the mountain would come and go to periodically reveal previously hidden views; this glimpse at Crown Mountain (below) was a pleasant surprise revealed when the clouds to the right of the picture moved out of the way.


From the Hollyburn summit the clouds unfortunately blocked the views of downtown Vancouver, but did create awe inspiring scenes by mixing in with the mountains further to the North.


On the return trip the low clouds has dissipated. They left behind a view of an oddly yellow horizon, reflected in the water surface.


Overall, a beautiful day out in the snow.




Sea to Sky to Ski

The winter season in the lower mainland of British Columbia is absolutely incomplete without a trip to the Whistler Blackcomb ski resort. On Family Day (Canadian provincial holiday in February) this year I took a trip up the Sea-to-Sky highway on what turned out to be a gorgeous day for skiing. Every ski trip to Whistler starts with an early morning McDonald’s breakfast in Squamish, because how could I pass up a McDonald’s with this view from the parking lot:


The rock face to the right is the Stawamus Chief Mountain, a popular hike during the summer months.

For those unfamiliar, Whistler Blackcomb is a world class ski resort with skiing available on two adjacent mountains, named Whistler Mountain (same name as the town that houses the ski resort) and Blackcomb Mountain. On this day I got started on Blackcomb, taking the gondola from Whistler village up one third of the mountain, then immediately taking a chairlift up roughly another third, a short ski horizontally across the mountain, and then up one more chairlift to get to the top. At which point I am above the tree line with a clear view of Whistler mountain ahead, and the dark comb-like peaks of Blackcomb beside me.


Whistler Mountain as viewed from Blackcomb Mountain


A view of Blackcomb Mountain after a short ski down from the highest chairlift on the mountain.

After a few runs down the upper slopes on Blackcomb, I took the peak-to-peak gondola between the mountains to spend the remainder of the day on Whistler Mountain. Once again, the few of the opposing mountain was magnificent.


Blackcomb Mountain as viewed from Whistler Mountain

With the end of the day drawing near, there happened to be a power outage that shut down the entire ski resort, while myself and many others were on a chairlift. While the 30min wait hanging in the chairlift was not exactly great, it did mean that the slopes were particularly empty for the trip down once the chairs did get moving again. Here is a photo from just that point in time showing only one other person on this run during a pretty busy day at the resort.


And finally, Whistler Mountain has the benefit a south-facing viewpoint that was unbeatable on this clear day.


The soft rolling snow on the mountaintops coupled with the texture of the mountain peaks and the famous Black Tusk peak was fantastic. Truly a great day outdoors.



Hollyburn Snowshoeing

My second trip to the mountain trails this year lead to Cypress Mountain park. The snowshoe trails in this park are separate from the alpine skiing trails, the nordic area is on Hollyburn Mountain while the alpine activities are on both Black Mountain and Mount Strachan. Since it was a cloudy and snowy day outside I did not venture to the peak of Hollyburn Mountain (this trail is maintained by BC Parks), but rather stuck around in the network of smaller and lower intensity trails that are maintained by Cypress Mountain’s nordic activities group.

The snowfall in the Vancouver (BC, Canada) area has been relentless lately, meaning there was plenty of fresh snow that made for a joyful day of snowshoeing and produced beautiful scenery of untouched fresh snow on the ground and weighing down tree branches.


It was a relatively quiet day on the trails, which really just fit the mood of the quiet and chilled environment. I found this only added to the ambience of being out next to nature and taking in the fresh air.