As soon as Daylight Savings time arrives to greet us, so do the very first falls of Snow begin to appear on the North Shore Mountains, and what a beautiful sight it is! It provides a stunning backdrop to the city skyline of Vancouver. As always, we really want our visitors to get the best of what the area has to offer and we sincerely hope that you come away with a little bit of knowledge about the surroundings, so we will explain in some detail about what you can expect to see when you visit these mountain areas.
The good news about the snow falling is that in the last few weeks the Ski Hills have been busy preparing for the new Ski Season of 2011/2012. It is with great pleasure that we can announce that Cypress Mountain has opened some of their runs as of TODAY! For further information on Cypress and the transportation options, please visit their website on www.cypressmountain.com. Cypress Mountain was a venue that took part in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, it hosted the Snowboarding and Freestyle events, however not with a glitch, as unbelievably so, the lack of snow on the Mountain during the Olympics led to Snow being transported by Truck and Helicopter so the games could still go ahead.
This is the earliest known date for Cypress to open for the upcoming Winter so we all feel confident that the Grouse and Seymour Ski hills will be opening very soon, for further information here you can visit their websites too, www.grousemountain.com and www.mountseymour.com. It has also been predicted that this Winter season could very well be one of the coldest in the past 20 years, so lets keep our fingers crossed as Skiing, Snowboarding or Snowshoeing on these hills is something you will never forget.
The North Shore Mountains are part of the Cascade Mountain Range that extend from Southern BC, over the US border travelling down through the States of Washington, Oregon and Northern California. When visiting the North Shore Ski resorts on a clear day you will be taken back by the breathtaking views of Vancouver Island, the Fraser Valley and the stunning Mount Baker at the head of the Fraser Valley. Another very popular and definitive landmark of these Mountains are ‘The Lions’. These are a pair of Peaks that are instantly recognizable landmarks and can be seen from a large area of the lower mainland, these distinctive twin peaks (also known as ‘The Sisters’ according to the local indigenous Squamish tribes of the area), overlook the Capilano Lake and Cleveland Dam. The Lions are the reason for the name of the BC Lions Football team.
The Cascade themselves are a mountainous region that is part of the ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’, this is a very active area of Plate Tectonics that are home to Volcanoes and ongoing seismic activity that encircles the majority of the Pacific Ocean, The Cascades are also home to the famous Mount St Helens situated in Southern Washington State. Mount Baker is an active Strato-Volcano and also happens to be one of the most snowy areas on earth, its location primed for the regular Pacific Storms that dumps a huge amount of rain on us and Snow on the summit each year, thus creating this incredibly white and imposing figure as a stunning backdrop to the South East of Vancouver, is is indeed our very own Mount Fuji.
The Grouse Mountain Ski resort added a new tourist attraction in 2010 that is also helping the resort to become a more environmentally friendly use of energy. On top of the peak you will see a huge Wind Turbine that is known as the ‘The eye of the Wind’, since the Turbine has been in use, its aim is to generate around 25% of the resorts energy so that the resort is able to function with sustainability at the forefront of its activities. Grouse Mountain is also home to the world famous ‘Grouse Grind’, although closed during the Fall, Winter and early Spring, this is worth a try if you are feeling daring and want to burn off some calories….it is called the Grind for good reason, as it is a trail that is 2.9km, and with just under 3000 steps and an incline in some parts of more than 40 degrees, it has become one of the most popular challenges for locals and tourists to complete, even a few of us at the hotel have managed to complete the Grind, so if we can do it so can you!
These Mountains also play a very important role with the weather here in Vancouver, the city and the whole of the Lower Mainland region is situated in an area called the Fraser Valley, and as we all know, rain is a very common weather event in this area. Due to the shape of the valley, the influence of the mountains is that they are a barrier to the incoming moisture from the passing storms, this enables the systems to drop more moisture on the city due to air funneling down through the valley from an easterly direction where it piles up against the North Shore Mountains, this in turn drops plenty of rain and snow on higher elevations on us during the Fall, Winter and Spring Seasons, Summer is commonly very dry as is typical of any Rainforest region.
This moisture is also what has helped influence the greenery that is associated with the Pacific North West, this area of the world is found among a Temperate Rain Forest, and if you do decide to go for hikes along the North Shore, you will get to experience the amazing green growth of a northern temperate jungle that is teeming with a wide variety of Wildlife, Flora and Fauna .
Vancouver is known for Raincity for a reason, and we have to be thankful for all this rain as it really makes this area unique and a wonderful playground for all ages.