The first local powder’s arrived in Southern BC and with resorts opening for what promises to be a superb ski season, Sea to Sky Gondola’s just kicked off its inaugural winter season as well.
The popular Squamish outdoors destination was closed for a short while to prepare the grounds for a variety of winter sports, from snowshoeing to backcountry skiing, even a tube park containing four different tracks. Snowshoe trails range in difficulty from intermediate to advanced, with Al’s Habrich Ridge Trail taking in the highest gain in elevation at 954 meters (3,129 feet).
Visitors can rent snowshoes in this scenic subalpine zone just an hour’s drive from Vancouver.
Once up the silent, 12-minute gondola ride that takes your breath away with sweeping views of the Howe Sound fjord, The Chief, and the surrounding natural beauty, the mountain’s wide open and ready for winter fun.
We took a short guided walk with Stephane, who also took us around the Spirit Trail just as Sea to Sky Gondola was preparing to open its doors for the first time last spring.
Guided interpretive walks are also on the agenda, and while on our quick orientation tour last week, Stephane mentioned that those peaks, while inviting for skiers, are meant for mountaineering and for those with more technical experience. He’s also curious as to where folks will set trails this winter. For snow lovers, season passes are on sale and valid now through April 30, 2015.
The winter will run a limited schedule: Thursday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm. Plans are to eventually have the mountain open daily.
You’ll enjoy some gorgeous views of Sky Pilot, Co Pilot, and Ledge Mountains plus Mount Habrich while taking in some of the healthiest air courtesy of pines as far as the eye can see.
All activities are on weather-permitting, so it’s best to check with the website to make sure things will be operational on the day of your visit. Once you’ve gotten a good workout on the trails, check in at the Summit Lodge restaurant for fondues, stews, and crepes, as well as other warm and hearty winter comfort foods.
During the holiday season, several events will take place at the Summit Lodge, including a Candlelight Dinner series (Fridays and Saturdays, December 5 to 20, 5 to 9:30 pm), Storytime at the Gondola (December 5, 12, 19, 10:30 to 11 am), and Brunch with Santa (December 6, 7, 10:30 am to 2:30 pm). Meet Santa, pose for photos, and engage in other seasonal activities following the pancake brunch.
For a true aural experience in this unique natural setting, mark your calendar for December 13’s Classic Choral Concert. Various Squamish-area choirs will perform from a selection of traditional Christmas songs chosen from their repertoires.
Headed up with your dog? You’ll be able to hike to the summit via the Sea to Summit Trail network and then download with your four-legged pal in specified gondola cabins. Dogs will be required to be on a leash at all times, and not allowed on any other Sea to Sky Gondola trails, bridges or viewing platforms.
Visit the Sea to Sky Gondola website for directions, upcoming events, private bookings, and opening hours/admission information.