Vancouver Christmas Ski preview

Sleighing pow: Celebrate Christmas with your skis or snowboard.

Skier and mountain biker Reuben Viles at Whistler: Australians simply call it "home".

Ski and Snowboard on Christmas

'Tis the season... ski season. The Lower Mainland may not have had much in the way of snow so far, but spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day on the mountain is awesome.

Not only is it a healthy option to gorging yourself on yet another fistful of mince pies, but skiing on Christmas is a celebration of living where we live, cradled by majestic mountains.

Christmas in Whistler

Most Vancouverites will be celebrating Christmas with their families and close friends, which loosely translates to "frantic last-minute gift-shopping at Shoppers Drug Mart and queueing for ages at the supermarket for that one thing they forgot."

Screw that. Go to Whistler instead. Whistler Blackcomb is the obvious choice for Christmas skiing: It's big, it's close, and it's got more snow than our North Shore mountains. You'll mainly be dealing with resort-based crowds: when it comes to Christmas, snowboarding is the expat-Australian equivalent of Chinese food and a movie.

Okay, so coverage at Whistler is still... a bit below average. Some of Whistler's and Blackcomb's famous powder bowls look more like forboding rock-beds of impending agony than the travel-brochure-worthy gems we're used to seeing. However, all lifts are running, so cruising the groomers will be just fine.

Besides, Christmas skiing is all about laid-back runs and early aprés anyway.

Whistler has gotten 7cm of snow since yesterday, and conditions are listed as "soft packed". This is an improvement over "hard packed". We'll go ahead and call that a win.

Overall, the resort claims a base of 180cm.

Whistler Blackcomb will not get any snow for Christmas Eve's session, but is expecting 4cm for Christmas Day. Temperatures in the alpine will be relatively warm: -6C to -8C, with cloudy skies throughout the week (surprise!).

Backcountry avalanche risk is moderate, mainly due to wind transfer. That cold snap earlier in the month makes it harder for new snow to bond with the old, leading to conditions that are less stable than you might expect with the relative lack of snow. Do not go backcountry skiing alone, and not without avalanche training. That's how you end up on the nightly news.

Check for last-minute Whistler hotel deals: there is vacancy in Whistler Village. Catch the Christmas carol service at the Westin at 6:30 on Christmas Eve, if you're not already stuck into a few pitchers of beer.


Rock skis for marginal conditions

Cypress, Seymour, and Grouse: Conditions & Christmas hours

Cypress Mountain is open from 9am-4pm on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Cypress has been making snow to bolster their 74cm base. Temperatures will be roughly -2C to -4C, with trace snowfall on December 24.

Mt. Seymour will be warmer, with temperatures hovering around 0. Traces of new snow are expected. They'll be open 9am-5pm this week.

Grouse Mountain is particularly kid-friendly., since it has so many non-ski activities for when the snow is too wet and heavy for kids to enjoy. Lifts will run from 8:30am-6pm on Christmas Eve, and from 9am-8pm on Christmas Day. No new snow is expected, and temperatures will hover around 0C

Vancouver's White Christmas came early; but maybe if we all sing, the clouds will deliver a Christmas ski miracle.

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