Cypress Mountain – Learn to Ski

Cypress Mountain – Learn to Ski

Adults learn to ski - Cypress mountainMarc, Tegan and I spent Monday evenings in February learning to ski at Cypress Mountain. They have weekly classes for adults called ALTS (adults learn to ski.) We had already taken our “never ever” classes for total beginners on Mount Seymour. You can read about that here. So this time, we were ready to learn to ski on Cypress…in the dark!

I found these classes quite hard. I was definitely the worst in the class on some weeks, but that made me try even harder. By the final week I was still a bit scared when I go fast BUT I could keep up with the other learners, and I had soooo much fun! If you want to learn to ski, but expensive lessons at the weekend are too pricey for you, this is a really good option. The ski runs were never very busy this late in the evening, so you don’t have to worry about bumping into other skiers.

Details about Cypress Mountain’s ALTS:

  • 4 evenings in either January or February
  • Each lesson was 2 hours
  • We were allowed to ski before and after our lesson (between 5:00pm- 10:00pm
  • It cost $269 for lessons, ski equipment hire and lift passes for all four weeks.
  • If you’d like to do the same, you can sign up here
  • After graduation, you can ski one evening a week for the rest of the season

Cypress Mountain in the daytime:

One of our four weeks landed on a Canadian national holiday, so Marc and I headed up as early as we could to go for a walk before we started skiing. Cypress Mountain isn’t really a mountain, but a bowl, made up of three mountains, Mount Strachan, Black Mountain, and Hollyburn Mountain. On that day, we took a shuttle bus up early and went for a walk before skiing from 5pm. I took a few piccies so, you can get an idea of what Cypress normally looks like in the day time.

I have even more photos of the snowshoeing area on Hollyburn Mountain here. We wandered over to the main area for skiing and snowboarding, on Black Mountain and Mount Strachan. This is where the winter Olympics took place in 2010. So you can see the Olympic rings.


Cypress Mountain has a bar (that serves food), a cafe, a shop selling warm clothes and ski-wear, and plenty of equipment available for hire. They also have loos and lockers.

When you rent gear at Cypress Mountain, it can be a bit of a shambles. You have to write up all your details every week, and it takes a while to line up and get all the correct gear. I didn’t mind that too much though as it meant we all learnt what equipment we needed by the end of the month.


Marc and I went in for burgers one night before our lessons, and the food was actually a lot better than what was available on Mount Seymour. It won’t blow you away, but it’s not too bad, considering they have such a captive audience.

Skiing at sunset:

Most of our lessons started just after the sun went down, but as we managed to get there early one week, I’d like to share some photos of the sunset on Cypress Mountain. This is a lovely way to learn to ski, and see pretty views! My pink nose matched the sky!

It’s pretty nice to see pink fluffy clouds as you get ready to learn to ski!

Normally though, by the time we lined up to wait for everyone outside the rental area, it would be dark. There is actually plenty of light to help you learn to ski. I never felt hampered by the lack of sun during our lessons.

What did the lessons include:

Our group had seven adult learners. We could all manage to ski slowly using the snowplow / pizza technique and turn before the first lesson. Our instructor, Constantine, helped us all improve our control on the turns. He then taught us quite a few tricks to move us towards parallel skiing, and built up our confidence so that we can all manage the blue runs (ish). All of of us could parallel ski (at least some of the time) by the final lesson. On the last lesson he also showed us how to ski backwards.

I loved it when we practiced skiing moves on Black Mountain as it has such lovely views down to Vancouver. It looks like a sparkly city full of fairies up here! My photos are really blurry. Marc didn’t think I should bring my good camera in case I fell on it, so these are from my super-old one! But you can get the idea.

This was our lovely instructor Constantine. His personality was a good mix of sarcasm, humour and encouragement.  He made our lessons really fun. Our group was small enough that we could all make friends and bond over our successes and failures. In fact, everyone in our group were complete sweeties.

Our final week was quite misty, so the lights up-lit the clouds above us to give a really beautiful, eerie atmosphere. There were very few people on the mountain, so Constantine challenged us all to try some of the blue runs. I was pretty worried at the top, but once I got over my fear of zooming down the first ledge, it was sooo exhilarating. I fell down a couple of times BUT I can get up and ski again.

Did we Learn to Ski?

In the end, we all graduated! Our group are all now “beginner plus” level. This might not sound very impressive to those of you that grew up sliding down mountains on your holidays. But, as a balance-challenged, mountain-loving blogger, I was (and am still) over the moon!

I can now go to Whistler looking forward to my adventures, rather than just feeling nervous about falling over! Yay!!


44 thoughts on “Cypress Mountain – Learn to Ski

    1. I suppose it could be! Lol we were concentrating so hard on improving, that I totally forgot to be all lovey-dovey!

      I’ll let Marc know that we need to go back! <3

    1. That is totally fair enough Ritu!
      I wouldn’t’ve considered it if Marc wasn’t so keen to learn. I mean sliding down hills strapped to wooden planks sounds like a crazy idea!

  1. I read this post with interest because my husband is currently obsessed with skiing. He took a lesson and then went skiing with friends this past weekend, and is planning to try and go at least once more before season’s end. He bought all the gear, rationalizing that he wanted this to be his new winter sport. We like to do so many things together, but unfortunately the state of my back at this moment makes a fall on a ski slope too scary (and potentially crippling) so I watch his enthusiasm with a happy/sad smile on my face. I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed the process of learning though. Josy–you are a inspiration for anyone with even the slightest inclination to go out and DO life.

    1. The good thing about skiing is you are far less likely to fall than snowboarding. I have only fallen a few times while we’ve been learning.

      BUT if a fall on your back would be that bad, you’d be too worried to relax on the skis, so I don’t think it’d be fun for you. 🙁

      Maybe this could be a chance to do something with your friends so you have something to look forward to while he skis?

    1. Yep. In Vancouver. There are 3 (!) amazing places to ski, overlooking the city. Cypress Mountain is the one furthest West. 😀

  2. Oh this is so exciting to hear!!! I started ski lessons at 4, so really all I remember is throwing a fit if they dared to try and give me a male instructor. (Boys have COOTIES, and I stand by that statement). It’s harder to learn when you aren’t a mere foot and a half from the ground, so I am always super impressed by adults who start skiing later in life ☺ Also, the snowplow might not be fancy but it will get you down a hill!!

    1. I love watching all the teeny people zoom around the mountains! That was you!! 😀

      I was surprised by how many Canadian beginners I have met. At first I thought all Canadians would be winter sport experts, but lots of people seem to grow up by the mountains without venturing on to them!

  3. This looks like so much fun! What a great way to get out and spend time with a friend or loved one. I’d love to do something like this with my family. Maybe we will one of these days. Thanks for the idea!

    1. Yay! It’d be really fun with a whole family! You might be able to hire a private instructor for you all!!

  4. Putting aside the fact that I’m clumsy and coordinated, I would love to give skiing as go again one day. We did a ski trip with school and I remember the exhilaration on the final day on “proper” parallel skiing down a blue run and making it all the way without falling over! Maybe I’ll look at the dry ski slopes locally and see what they offer…thanks for the inspiration Josy!

    1. Oooh you’d be great then!

      I am clumsy and really uncoordinated, but I somehow managed!! The other newbies that did best were the people that had skied as young children at school, so your legs might remember your parallel skiing from your school trip! You need to come back to Canada anyway so…

  5. I’ve been downhill skiing just twice, but I really did enjoy it. It’s fun! But, I still prefer cross-country skiing, AND, I think you should come and join me. 🙂

    1. I really hope I can one day!

      Isn’t cross-country skiing much harder? Marc mentioned that you have to be super healthy for all the uphill sections!? We do need to try that too!

      1. Yes, uphill treks can be tiresome, especially for skate-skiers. We do classical cross-country skiing which is so relaxing to me. I’m pretty sure I could ski all day. 🙂 My kids (7 and 9) and I just got back from a 3.5 hour trek across the lake (the FB post you saw), and we all had a nice sprint at the end – so, we all had energy left over. It really is a delightful way to travel in the snow. You really need to try it! And, try it a few times. I have a feeling it’s something you won’t want to give up either. I love seeing state parks and national parks via classical cross-country skiing.

        1. Oooh okay. Right. I’ll see if there are good places to try it here. I’ve seen places to try Nordic skiing. Is that the same?

  6. I learned to ski in a similar program. After the several weeks of lessons, I never skied again. Hated it. I prefer cross country over downhill.

    1. Oh no! At least you tried, but if you hated it, it’s great that you get to go cross country skiing instead. Is cross country less scary on the downhill parts?

  7. Hi I have never seen snow let alone done any skiing. I am coming from Australia next year in April and wonder weather we could get beginner ski lessons in april and will there be good snow. thanks

  8. Great, thank you for that information. How long do you think it takes for the lesson and to be able to have a ski – can all this be done in one day. Or idoes learning to ski take longer. And is it best to hire out the clothes and skis etc rather than me trying to buy it in Australia and bringing it over??

    1. I have not seen ski clothes for hire, but there are some discount shops where you can buy them cheaply (or go second hand!)

      When we first learned it took us two days to pick up the basics. Although even after the first day we were able to go up the main ski-lifts and make it down the green runs.

    1. Yeah Whistler is pricey. The problem is the local mountains may not be an option in April as they often close at the end of March.

      You could also look at learning at Sasquatch. It is a similar distance from Vancouver, but waaay cheaper than Whistler. They are further inland, so they might have snow a little later in the year (I’m not sure yet, but we’ll go back, so I can let you know.) 🙂

      1. Oh. I just looked at Sasquatch, but there is nothing listed on their calendar in April, so I think they might close at the end of March to.

  9. Ok thanks Josy, I would prefer a cheaper option but if they are closed that won’t help. I would prefer to only do a day of learning and skiing as we are limited for time. I hope we can do that somehow. Even if i can’t get the hang of it at least I seen and touched snow 🙂 and got to ride in a ski lift. There will be a few of us thats all. Just trying to work out the cheapest option for getting there and learning to ski. Thanks for all your help.

    1. Hmmm, if you are mostly interested in seeing the snow, you could try snowshoeing. That should still be possible on the North Shore Mountains, and it is reeeally easy/cheap to hire. That way you’d be able to see the views without the stress of learning a new skill.

  10. oh, I just checked out what snowshoeing is….haha. I don’t think the group will want to do anything that is too hard and strenuous….but I suppose learning to ski might be too. But just walking through the snow doesn’t sound that fun. But something close to vancouver and easy to do is what I am trying to find – in the snow.

    1. It is really fun! Well, if you like pretty views. You just strap the snow shoes over your regular shoes and then sort of float on top of the snow. It is much easier than learning to ski.

      If you choose an easy route it isn’t strenuous at all.

      Have a peek at these: Dog Mountain: This one is pretty flat, but has really good views down to Vancouver.

      This one is even easier, although I am not sure if the waterfalls will be frozen as late as April:

  11. Oh wow. Thanks Josy. That actually looks great. That’s all we need. I was actually thinking of these great big awkward shoes too! Do you know if this option is available in April where someone can take a group of us..and will there be a lot of snow like that. As you said the waterfalls may not be frozen, but thats ok. What sort of clothing do you think we would need for this type of activity?

    1. That’s the other reason I think it will be good for you, as long as you have a waterproof coat, you’ll be fine wearing lots of layers if it is cold. That way you won’t need to buy more clothes. It works best if you have waterproof shoes (like walking boots) to strap the snowshoes on to.

      You can even reach some of the mountains (like Grouse Mountain) with public transport.

      For the snow, it really depends on the year. Last year (and the year before) there was still quite a lot of snow in June, so i think you’ll be fine in April. This year we have far less snow, so I am not sure how long it will last…

      One of my friends offers guided walks. I will ask her if she can do something like this for you. 😀

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