Last Cypress Bowl Ski before Olympics

Tomorrow, for security reasons, we backcountry skiers will not be permitted in Cypress Bowl until after the Olympics. Hollyburn Mountain is not a venue for the games, so that beautiful old growth forest will belong only to the security goons with guns. Today, the weather up in the bowl was mild (as everybody in the world seems to be learning) and foggy… but backcountry travellers are supposed to be able to handle anything (except lack of snow for skiing). So, we went there. The altitude where we start to ski up is about the same as most of the Olympic events. I have never seen so little snow at this time of the year — it looks like very late spring.

Hollyburn Mt. Trailhead - Cypress Bowl, BC

Snow conditions at the Hollyburn Mt. Hikers' Trailhead

Things improved with a bit of altitude, and above the Water Boards (top of the nordic trails) there was even some fresh wet snow.

On the Hollyburn Mt. summit trail, above the Water Boards

On the Hollyburn Mt. summit trail, above the Water Boards

There were very few people up there today. Instead of fighting churned up snow to the summit, somewhere above this point we headed off into the woods looking for some smooth glades.

The place to remove skins and start skiing

The place to remove skins and start skiing

We were alone in the woods. It was dark and foggy. And no other ski tracks. Somehow we missed our planned line and were heading into the unknown. So, we put skins on again and doubled back.

Suddenly we found ourselves on the slope we were seeking.

The slope to ski

The slope we wanted to ski

The only person who’d been here before us left a single snowshoe track. I don’t think I’ve  ever been the first to ski this pitch. It wasn’t powder… but I learned to ski in this lovely, soft, damp, west coast snow. It was marvellous. There was several inches of fresh snow over a firm base.

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