THE slopes opened on two of the North Shore’s three mountains this week, thanks to cold temperatures and the grace of snow machines.
Following three days of copious snowmaking, Cypress got a foot of snowfall on Monday.
“It went from green to white kind of overnight,” said Joffrey Koeman, director of sales and marketing for Cypress. “We were making plans to open Wednesday on snowmaking alone, and then Monday morning we came to work and there was 31 centimetres.”
Now with about three feet of snow, Koeman is hopeful skiers and snowboarders will test their reflexes at the mountain’s slightly revamped skate park. Advanced riders can test their skills on a 30-foot box or the 20-foot handrail.
The mountain’s new addition is a giant air bag that is tentatively slated to be operational next week. “It’s called a landing pad,” said Koeman. “It’s a 45 by 33-foot air bag that snowboarders and skiers can take a jump and land on.”
Imported from China, the air bag will be installed outside the Crazy Raven bar and grill.
A similar combination of machine-made snow and the stuff that falls from the sky allowed Grouse Mountain to open on Wednesday.
“We usually open on the 18th or 20th. The 13th is fairly early,” said Sarah Lusk, public relations manager for Grouse Mountain. “Our team has been busy making snow and then Mother Nature provided.”
The snow machines have been purring on and off atop Grouse since a cold snap two weeks ago, providing 34 cm of snow according to Lusk.
Grouse is also providing riders with a touch of the city on the mountain. “People will definitely see a difference in the terrain parks. They’re more of a skateboard-park theme this year,” Lusk said.
Many of the obstacles in the terrain parks are made of refurbished goods like oil drums and tube rails, according to Lusk.
With a base of about 30 centimetres, Mt. Seymour is likely still a few weeks from welcoming skiers, according to sales and marketing manager Simon Whitehead.
“If we receive loads of snow over the next week or so, everything will change. We’re just totally beholden to Mother Nature,” Whitehead said. “Traditionally we’ve generally opened the last week of November (or the) first week in December.”
Mt. Seymour does not use snow machines to compound its snowfall.
“We want to have sufficient snow cover that they don’t damage their skis and boards,” Whitehead said.
Mt. Seymour is scheduled to unveil its $5-million high-speed chairlift this season. The Mystery Peak Express chairlift is designed to boost capacity while getting skiers and snowboarders to the mountaintop in four minutes.“That’s the biggest single investment that Mt. Seymour’s ever made,” Whitehead said.
After being called the most snowshoe friendly ski resort in North America by Snowshoe Magazine, the mountain was also named third-best terrain park in the west by the SBC Resort Guide Editor’s Choice Awards this week..