Winter returns to Metro Vancouver
Ski hill operators revel in snow, but conditions present danger elsewhere
The return of winter to the Lower Mainland has been a welcome relief to local ski hills.
Mount Seymour, which does not have snow-making machines, has been starved in recent weeks of natural snowfall.
Emmalee Brunt, spokeswoman for the North Vancouver ski hill, said the resort had an accumulation of 11 centimetres of snow by Sunday morning and had the Goldie beginner lift, a lower terrain park and the toboggan area open. The change in conditions also means the resort is looking at opening the other lifts this week — if the snow continues, she said.
“It is snowing like crazy up here right now,” she said.
One more wallop of snow likely means they can open some of the other lifts higher up the mountain.
“We need about 20 centimetres more to open them,” she said.
At nearby Grouse Mountain, resort spokeswoman Jacqueline Blackwell said the new snow let them open up two more of their terrain parks and some additional ski and snowboard runs.
“With this coverage we will get more terrain opened,” she said. “Things will happen pretty quickly.”
The key factor for Grouse is the return of the cooler temperatures, which is a big help to their extensive snow-making system. They have been very busy making snow to complement the natural snow that has been falling over the weekend.
For those who venture into the backcountry, there is a warning from search and rescue officials.
“Be prepared, be prepared,” said Mike Coyle, a search manager with the Coquitlam Search and Rescue team. Last week CSR had to rescue three stranded hikers in the Eagle Ridge area who did not anticipate winter conditions.
Coyle said there is about a metre of snow in the backcountry and they expect about another metre of snow to fall during this winter storm. And while there is not as much snow as other years, Coyle warns people to be cautious.
“Even a thin snowpack can make avalanches,” he said.
Coyle also wants to remind people who are in the backcountry that travel is a lot slower with the snow. “People have to understand travelling on snow is a lot slower than hiking in the summer,” he said.
He also notes that trail markers can be buried in the snow.
“On a lot of the trails the markers can be obscured by the snow,” he said. The return of winter has also left many of the region’s homeless struggling to stay warm.
Vancouver Coun. Kerry Jang said the cold and snowy conditions are a concern to those who live on the street. The city has three shelters that can accommodate about 180 people for the night.
And he said they have outreach workers out on the streets trying to convince people to get inside and out of the cold. “More outreach workers go out looking for the homeless in these extreme conditions,” he said. “It is really tough for the homeless right now.”
The snow is expected to ease up by late Monday and end Tuesday.
Further extreme winter conditions are possible by mid-week.