Vancouver-area ski hills struggle with low snowpack, but hopeful for season ahead

If you’re hoping to hit the slopes around Metro Vancouver over the holidays, you may not find as much snow as you were hoping for.

All of the North Shore ski resorts have a lack of snow, with Mt Seymour saying it has paused its operations due to inclement weather.

Simon Whitehead, communications manager for Mt Seymour, says it’s not uncommon for the mountain to struggle with snow this time of year.

“It’s a weak start to the ski season,” he said. “We’re very lucky in the Pacific Northwest to enjoy one of the longest ski seasons in the world. Even if we opened in January — which is about one-in-eight years — there’s still over three months of ski season ahead of us. This is right at the beginning of the ski season, so it’s really way too early to write off.”

Whitehead adds the pause will help Mt Seymour protect its snowpack.

“If you run operations with a saturated snowpack it really damages the snowpack you have,” he explained.

“The other thing is, we want to offer our customers the best experience we can offer,” Whitehead continued. “If someone pays money to come skiing in the rain, it’s not the greatest experience. We’d rather pause and give them the opportunity to come back another time.”

Cypress and Grouse are in a similar situation. Cypress has only one downhill run open, while Grouse has one run and one terrain park open. 

The snow ruler at Cypress Mountain on Dec. 20, 2023
The snow ruler at Cypress Mountain on Dec. 20, 2023. (Courtesy Cypress Mountain)

The North Shore mountains were seeing rain and above freezing temperatures Wednesday, with some snow forecast later in the week.

Whistler Blackcomb boasts the best snowpack in the region right now, with a base depth of 75 centimetres. However, even there, less than half of the total terrain is currently open and conditions on the lower mountain are still pretty rocky.

The lack of snow is all part of an El Niño weather pattern, which typically spells milder winters with less precipitation in B.C.

Even with the slow start, Whitehead says he’s hopeful there will be plenty of skiing and snowboarding to come in the months ahead.

“Keep doing those snow dances. Check our website for updates. As soon as we’re in a position to open up more terrain, we’ll be the first to let everybody know.”

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