Skiing the Coast Mountains of British Columbia offers skiers a chance to cruise down runs at one of North America’s top resorts, ride three mountains perched above a bustling metropolis, or combine skiing with surfing. Why not do it all when you ski BC’s coast?
Whistler Village in its winter coat of white. Photo: Blake Jorgenson
The two-hour drive up to Whistler along the scenic Sea-to-Sky Highway from Vancouver is a journey in and of itself. The proximity of Whistler to Vancouver is all part of the appeal and the amenities of Whistler Village—dining, shopping, nightlife, winter activities, and endless recreation—has kept dedicated skiers coming back and one-season locals staying for decades.
Whistler Blackcomb views and the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola. Photo: Tourism Whistler/Mike Crane
Two mountains, connected by the record-breaking PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola, means skiers get to choose from over 200 marked runs, 8,171 acres of terrain, 16 alpine bowls, and three glaciers of powder bliss. It’s no wonder the resort is consistently ranked as one of North America’s top ski destinations. Time off the slopes can be just as fun: hop in a bobsled and race down an Olympic sliding track, glide through a snow-covered forest on cross-country skis in Whistler Olympic Park, or check out the multiple art galleries and museums on a cultural walking tour through the village.
The view of the Pacific Ocean and Cypress Mountain.
Skiing Vancouver’s local mountains is a magical experience. Skiing during the day offers views of the ocean while skiing showcases the bright city lights below. The best part? After a long day or night skiing you can head back downtown for a pint of local craft beer, catch a live show, or rest your bones in your city digs.
Cypress Mountain sits next to the legendary Hollyburn Ridge—the epicentre of Nordic skiing—and between the peaks of Hollyburn, Strachan, and Black mountains. Cypress offers skiers 600 acres of downhill skiing on everything from gentle groomed slopes to black diamond runs. The Skyride at Grouse Mountain is an exhilarating tram ride that will shuttle you from city to mountain peak. Once at the top of Grouse Mountain, skiing isn’t the only thing to do; skating, snowshoeing routes, ziplines, sledding, and a magical Light Walk keep everyone entertained. Mt Seymour is family-friendly with five lifts serving 200 acres; it’s a great place to take the kids or beginners and has enough terrain for advanced skiers to still get their kicks. All three resorts offer night skiing, so you can be dazzled by the city lights of Vancouver as you slide down the slopes.
View of Vancouver from Grouse Mountain. Photo: Leo Zuckerman
Powder day at Mount Washington on Vancouver Island. Photo: Dave Silver
The trip to Vancouver Island’s Mount Washington means a quick trip with BC Ferries and crossing the Strait of Georgia. Once on the Island, the drive along the coast towards Cumberland and Courtney is just as scenic as the drive up to the resort. Mount Washington gets some of the most snow in the province—an average annual snowfall of 38 (11.5 metres)—and is crowd-free. It’s also the perfect ski destination for families, where children five and under ski free.
Surfing at Cox Bay in Tofino on Vancouver Island. Photo: Destination Canada/Brian Caissie
After you’ve spent a few days skiing the resort’s 81 runs or lapping the 55 km (30 mi) of cross-country ski trails, you can switch skis for surfboards. Water babies can head to BC’s surf capital of Tofino for a few days of playing in the Pacific. Take a surf lesson on gentle waves or seek out the expert surf zones along a stretch of coast that runs between Ucluelet and Tofino. Be sure to stop for beach walks in Pacific Rim National Park. If you’re not done with skiing, the small but mighty Mount Cain has two T-bars and an authentic ski vibe.
Alpine resorts are bordered by uncontrolled wilderness areas. Respect the boundary lines and don’t ski out of bounds. Make sure you know the Alpine Responsibility Code and learn about the danger of tree wells. AdventureSmart is a great resource to help you get informed before heading outdoors.