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West Van's Cypress ski hill set to open Friday

Beginner hill only will open this weekend for a taste of this year's snow season

Skiers and boarders eager for an early taste of the ski season can get ready to haul those skis and snowboards out of the closet.

Cypress Mountain Resort has announced a limited opening on the West Vancouver ski hill on Friday (Nov. 19).

“It’s currently dumping snow,” said Joffrey Koeman, marketing director for the resort. “There’s probably about three centimetres on the ground right now and more to come throughout the day.”

Cypress already received a large dump of 59 centimetres of snow before last weekend’s “atmospheric river” washed some of that away. Since then, however, staff have been busy moving snow on to the ski runs and using the ski hill’s snow-making equipment over the past three nights to supplement what Mother Nature has offered up.

This year, the resort upped its snow-making equipment on Mount Strachan by about 40 per cent, and bought 15 new snow guns, said Koeman.

The mountain plans to ease into the ski season by opening its beginner hill first, with the Easy Rider Quad Chair on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Koeman said as more snow falls – or is made by the snow-making equipment – the resort hopes to open up more terrain.

Similar indoor COVID protocols will be in place this year as during the last ski season, said Koeman, although skiers who want to access licensed restaurants will have to show vaccine passports.

Chairlifts will operate at full capacity, however. Cypress is also not requiring vaccine passports to ski.

“We don’t really have choke points like a gondola,” said Koeman.

Over on North Vancouver’s Grouse Mountain, the ski resort has not yet announced its own opening date, although the mountain plans to open its Peak of Christmas experience Nov. 25.

Those hoping to ski at Grouse will have to get their shot first, however.

This year, Grouse Mountain became one of the first ski hills in the province to make vaccinations mandatory for anyone 12 and older for all mountaintop activities.

So far, Grouse – which unlike other North Shore ski hills, is accessed by a gondola – is the only local ski hill to announce a mandatory vaccine passport program.

At Whistler Blackcomb, the resort has announced vaccines will be mandatory for staff, but has not extended that to guests riding gondolas or taking part in outdoor activities.

The North Shore’s other ski hill, Mt. Seymour, has not yet announced an opening date. The mountain has announced it intends to continue to require skiers to sign up for four-hour reservable time slots on weekends and holidays.