Cypress Mountain

Cypress Mountain is the largest ski area of the three North Shore mountains at 600 skiable acres, is around triple the size of both Seymour and Grouse individually. There are runs on two adjacent mountains, Mount Strachan on the northeast, and Black Mountain on the southwest. Both mountains have runs from beginner to expert.

Crowding in the lift line is pretty normal at Cypress during weekends.

However, being the largest ski area in close proximity to Vancouver, Cypress also attracts large crowds. Besides crowding the lifts, parking distance is also an issue. In the best case, one would only need to walk a couple hundred meters to the lifts from the closest parking lot, and in the worst case from the far end of the furthest lot it’s almost a kilometer and half to the lifts.

For absolute beginners, the Easy Rider quad chair services the Runway run, which is a relatively wide, flat, and short area to learn and practice the basics. Although the terrain itself is quite suitable for beginners, the main complicating factor is the volume of people. On a busy day, it can be quite difficult for beginners to maneuver around people who have fallen in front of them, increasing the risk of collisions.

Once off the Runway, beginners who are looking for slightly more adventure can ride the Midway lift, which provides service to the lower portion of the Collins run. However, the main “fun” runs are Collins on Mt. Strachan and Panorama on Black Mountain. These are long winding green runs from the top of their respective mountains to the bottom. However again, these are often crowded by beginners. Also, the entirety of the runs are “slow zones,” so not the ideal place for anyone other than beginners on a crowded day.

Each mountain has their fair share of intermediate and advanced terrain. My preferred intermediate area is on Black Mountain, where the number of interconnecting blue runs (Maelle Ricker’s Gold, Jasey Jay Anderson’s Gold, Ashleigh McIvor’s Gold—I think they have normal run names, but I don’t remember them right now) provides some variety when coming down. There are intermediate and advanced runs on the Raven Ridge Quad Chair, but I haven’t had the opportunity to ski those yet.

Sunset from the top of Sky Chair, with a view of Howe Sound and the Lions

On Mount Strachan the Sky Chair provides access to the peak with a nice view of the Lions. There’s really only one intermediate way down by the T-33; it’s kind of short and narrow. Make sure you turn left before you end up on the double black diamond Top Gun run.

On the main area of Mount Strachan, the Humpty Dumpty and Horizon runs provide the main intermediate ways down. They aren’t particularly interesting runs.

Except for once down the Rainbow run, I have not attempted any other of the black runs at Cypress.

Takeaway: Cypress is the best of the North Shore mountains in terms of terrain. However, it is pricey and very busy on weekends, and it’s a long hike from the parking area.

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