Six must-try winter experiences in B.C.’s Coastal Mountains

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Mark Sissons

Sometimes we forget that resort skiing and snowboarding aren’t the only ways to embrace winter in B.C.’s Coastal Mountains. There are so many equally enjoyable outdoor activities – from the adventurous to decadent. Here are a just a few of the many ways you can learn to love winter on the Left Coast.

Strap on your snowshoes on Cypress Mountain

Picture yourself and your loved ones emerging from the snowy forest on a late winter’s afternoon “magic” hour onto a panoramic lookout to have Vancouver’s sparkling skyline spread out beneath you. At Cypress Mountain, home of many 2010 Olympic Winter Games events, you have a 10-kilometre network of Nordic and snowshoe trails to explore.

All trails are well groomed and some are hard packed enough to hike without snowshoes. The best part? Snowshoe trail tickets are only $10 at Cypress, and snowshoe rentals are available at a very reasonable price. All of which makes getting into the fresh air of Vancouver’s North Shore Mountains more appealing. Don’t want to leave your pup at home, bring it along – all are welcome.

Hit the Umbrella Bar at Whistler’s Roundhouse Lodge

Now there’s another excuse to hang out and relax on Whistler Mountain. Whiskey Jack’s Umbrella Bar recently opened in the mid-mountain Roundhouse Lodge, just below the iconic Inukshuk statue, symbol of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. With a year-round heated patio and seats protected from the elements behind steel and glass wind walls, it offers a panoramic view of Whistler Village. Complete with collapsible roof to accommodate the Pacific Northwest weather conditions, the Umbrella Bar is the perfect place to soak in the views of the Coast Mountain Range. It’s also not the latest place to be and be seen on North America’s No. 1 mountain.

Dare to go heli-skiing in the Coast Range

Heli Whistler
Photo: Abby Cooper

For the ultimate downhill thrill, board a private chopper at Whistler Blackcomb and soar into your own immense private alpine playground. Whistler Heli-skiing specializes in taking small groups of four to five people heli-skiing or boarding in some of the most spectacular ski territory in Canada, with access to over 200,000 acres of diverse terrain. You’ll be cruising down wide open powder bowls or challenging yourself in the glades. On a typical day, you can shred over 12,000 vertical feet of untracked powder. Perfect for intermediate to advanced skiers and boarders, heli-skiing is an unforgettable way to experience Whistler’s spectacular backcountry.

Make fresh tracks after a fantastic breakfast on Whistler

Whistler Blackcomb
Photo: Abby Cooper

For skiers and snowboarders, there’s nothing quite like the bragging rights of being the lucky first one down the hill on a powder day. Combine that with a hearty breakfast and you’ve got a winning formula to power up your day on the slopes. Whistler’s Fresh Tracks Breakfast offers just such an opportunity. All you have to do is buy your ticket at Guest Relations, any ticket window or online, board the Whistler Gondola starting at 7:15 a.m. and enjoy an all you can eat big mountain buffet style breakfast at the Roundhouse Lodge. Then you’ll be fueled up to enjoy fresh powder or perfectly groomed corduroy all to yourself for an hour before the masses arrive.

Strap on your skates at Whistler’s Olympic Plaza

Whistler Blackcomb
Photo: Andrew Strain

You don’t have to be Olympians like Patrick Chan, Tessa Virtue or Scott Moir to experience the thrill of gliding on glass beneath the Olympic Rings. Each winter, Whistler’s Olympic Plaza includes a special ice skating rink where you can enjoy one of Canada’s most iconic outdoor pastimes in the heart of our most famous ski resort. Skating is free, and you can rent skates onsite or bring your own.

It’s a great way to get outdoors and enjoy the company of friends and family while holidaying at Whistler.

Soak up Whistler’s Scandinave Spa

After an epic day on the slopes, on the trails or in the backcountry, there’s nothing better than treating yourself to a soothing spa visit. Combining rustic elegance with majestic scenery in a tranquil, secluded forest setting, Scandinave Spa - Whistler lets you experience the age-old Finnish tradition of soaking in soothing hot and cold outdoor baths, repeated three times for maximum benefit. Start with a eucalyptus steam bath or wood-burning sauna and then cool off with a quick plunge in a cold bath or Nordic waterfall. Then relax in a solarium, treat yourself to a massage, or curl up by the outdoor fireplaces before refueling in the cafe.

If you go

Start planning your trip to SkiBC Coastal Mountain trip here.

Check out the specials and ski packages at Whistler Blackcomb.

If you are looking to treat your family to a legendary spring break experience, have a read to this story on how to plan the ultimate Whistler Blackcomb adventure.

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