I absolutely hate packing my boots in for the season. When conditions get cruddy in the springtime and the avalanche forecast becomes haywire, longer backcountry adventures are much less safe and desirable.
Fortunately, there is a great way to keep your ski legs going just a little longer. When Cypress mountain closes for the season, uphill enthusiasts get to run wild on the mountain. This is not publicly advertised by the mountain, and I’m sure it’s not encouraged, but if you hike around the resort, no one is really there to stop you.
Cypress Mountain typically closes sometime in Mid-May and depending on the snow conditions for any given year gives you the opportunity to play around on the mountain for a few weeks before the slush washes away.
This isn’t really a deep wilderness adventure type of ski tour, but it offers a unique opportunity to aimlessly play around on a ski hill that you usually have to shell out cash to ride. Even better, since it’s a resort, you don’t have to worry about avalanche risk as the snow layers are very stable and well compacted from all the skiing throughout the season. Just make sure to slow things down a little bit and keep your eyes peeled for the multitude of hazards that show themselves as you ride down. As per usual, I always recommend riding with a friend and bringing the basics along.
Remember the Backcountry Basics
- Carry your Survival Kit & Essentials
- Let someone know where you’re going with a Trip Plan
- Know how to avoid negative wildlife encounters
- Practice Leave No Trace to keep the wilderness pristine
|Time Needed||1-2 Hours|
The first step is to get yourself up Cypress Mountain Road. There is no bus, so you are going to need a vehicle or bicycle. You won’t need winter tires because the road is completely melted, and the temp is likely hovering above 12 degrees. I seriously respect the exercise enthusiasts who decide to strap their skis aboard their bicycle’s riding up to the snowline for the ultimate workout. I planned on biking up with my skis this season, but both of my beater bicycles were stolen in typical Vancouver fashion.
Hollyburn mountain and the surrounding trees are a great spot to get a hike and steal some powder turns in the regular season, but it tends to lose snow quite early. The Black Mountain side also tends to depreciate snow much earlier as well. The process of elimination leaves us with Mt Strachan. Strachan holds the best snow late in the season, thanks to it’s exposure and also snowmaking efforts. The summit of Mt Strachan offers the most expansive view of Howe sound and the surrounding mountains making it the perfect spot to enjoy sunset.
Prop your skins on at the car and walk in your boots over to the bottom of the Easy Rider Quad Chair. Follow Runway up. Take a quick left and continue up Collins, a green run, and super steady climbing grade until you reach Mid Mountain at the top of the Lions Express Chair. Follow T33 as the pitch gradually increases until you reach the top of the sky chair and are rewarded with a view. At the top of the sky chair, you can ski down a small valley, transition or boot pack up the final pitch to reach the Mt Strachan Summit at 1460 meters.
The final push up to the Strachan Summit is well walked but is off the bounds of the resort and considered backcountry, so if you are going to add on the extra bit of elevation be aware of conditions and bring the appropriate gear. The best view is from the viewpoint off the point just slightly west of the sky chair, so adding the hike isn’t all too necessary.
The viewpoint is a great place to post up, have a few beers, make dinner, and watch the sun disappear over Howe Sound.
Recently, in late May of 2021, there was some seriously hot weather and I climbed up, stayed put, and skied down just wearing shorts and no shirt.
Get out there and play one last time before you have to accept the reality that decent snow doesn’t last all season long and get ready for you other hobbies.
Have you packed your boots in yet?