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Here's what to expect at North Shore ski resorts this week

Cypress and Grouse have opened some of their beginner and intermediate terrain
Skiers and boarders get a lift on the Easy Rider Quad Chair for their first runs of the season at Cypress Mountain, the first of the North Shore ski hills to open on Dec. 7, with Grouse Mountain opening the afternoon of Dec. 8. Limited terrain is available to riders at this time until further snowfall and snowmaking increases the base. | Paul McGrath / North Shore News

After a warm and wet start to the winter season, some welcome cooler weather has allowed two of the three North Shore ski hills to open.

Cypress Mountain Resort was first out of the gates on Thursday, Dec. 7, with limited access to its bunny hill, Runway, and Collins terrain park. Since then, the West Vancouver ski and snowboard destination has opened its Eagle Express Quad Chair, with access to the Panorama, Windjammer and Upper Fork runs.

Grouse Mountain opened one day later, with access to Paradise and Paradise Jib Park via the Greenway Chair. Now, the Peak Quad Chair is also open, with access to Heaven’s Sake, Peak and Lower Peak.

For mountain-goers, the good news is that new snow has been falling – 17 centimetres was added to Cypress’s snowpack on Sunday, according to the resort. But “early-season conditions persist,” reads a Monday update. “Conditions will be best on our open runs where our groomers and snowmaking team have worked their magic.”

Cypress also stressed the importance of staying on marked terrain, as last week’s rainfall resulted in running water under the snowpack, which has created “openings and potential hazards.”

Both ski hills said they’re working to open more terrain as soon as possible. Meanwhile, Mt. Seymour – which doesn’t use snowmaking equipment – has yet to announce an opening date.

This winter season is expected to bring higher-than-normal temperatures, according an outlook from Environment and Climate Change Canada.

“El Niño conditions, which contributed to extreme global temperatures during the summer and autumn of 2023, are expected to continue through this winter season,” the outlook reads. “El Niño conditions are due to natural variability in the climate system and will likely contribute to the higher-than-normal temperatures in Canada this winter, intensifying the warming effects from human-induced climate change in what is shaping up to be the hottest year recorded in human history.”

Last year, marked by La Niña conditions, brought a higher-than-average snowpack and a season start date of Nov. 12 – a week earlier than the previous season.

Other activities open at local mountain resorts include cross-country skiing at Cypress’s Nordic area, with snow tubing opening on Friday, Dec. 15. At Grouse Mountain, you can visit Santa’s workshop or skate at the ice pond. Santa is also taking appointments at Seymour, which has also opened its tubing and tobogganing area.