Freeriding, terrain parks and pistes
in Cypress Mountain
Freeriders may find the best riding to be had on Mt Strachan in the east, which has two main chairlifts, Sunrise and Sky (plus Midway and Easy Rider for the beginners) that take you to the top of the best black runs. On a clear day, the view is absolutely stunning, with the enormous Mt Baker dominating the horizon down to Washington, USA. Snowboarding on this side of Cypress Mountain is better than anywhere else in the resort due to the steep and variable terrain, and because of the altitude, there is also more snow. There are some truly top class off-piste tree runs to contend with (although a little short by European standards), and some challenging black runs too.
Sky Chair provides access to some higher terrain, better snow and most of the more difficult terrain. This includes Top Gun, which is a decent length Double Black run - it's great fun on a powder day. The glades to the left of the top of Sky Chair is a fun, mellow tree run with some small drops to try.
Other runs to look out for are Slash and Moons (off Sunrise chair), they are marked on the piste map but are not easy to find. Look for people going into the trees to the right of the top of the chair, or just ask a local to show you.
Cypress has a very strict policy on boundaries and closed runs, this is because it is a dangerous backcountry area and if caught you will be removed from the mountain.
Freestylers have a snowboard park sponsored by Bell one of the local mobile phone companies. It is well maintained by the owners, the instructors and a few local riders who are constantly changing the set-up. There is also a big halfpipe and if thats not enough, there are two awesome 12-foot quarterpipes (snow permitting!)
The park now has its own chairlift. Along with quicker access, this has given the park crew more room to play with and investment has brought new features like a wall ride along with new rails and boxes.The selection of rails and boxes is good, sometimes it feels a little aimed towards the intermediates but is regually updated throughout the season and at times has stuff for the beginners. There is also a much-hailed boardercross, but in reality its just a couple of burns and way too short to be of any use.
As for the rest of the mountain, Collins has some cut-outs and tree jibs, while Fork on the other side has some natural rollers. Humpty Dumpty can also provide some freestyle fun as long as it isn't too icy.
Carvers in search of loads of fast and extreme slopes will be a little disappointed, but should head for Horizon or Fork when the slopes are nicely groomed or Upper & Lower Collins when its less busy. No real flat spots to get stuck on, however you can't really get from one side of the bowl to the other without unstraping; i.e from Sunrise chair to Eagle chair.
The runs are not as wide as you would like and sometimes become very icy due to the varying temperatures. The pistes are well maintained, although some parts do get moguled up on busy days or after a big snow storm
Beginners have it best at Cypress Mountain. The Eagle chair on Black Mountain gives access to some easy/intermediate winding runs; alternatively, the flats on Mt Strachan and the Sunrise chair are ideal for learning the basics.
There is a dedicated chairlift for beginners called the "Easy Rider" which is a real improvement over the previous draglift, which can make your first day much more fun. The slope itself is also good for learning, nice and wide and after the first few metres has a constant gradient. Sunrise gets busy and has a very hard runout whereas Eagle is newer, faster and much easier to use. The popularity of Sunrise is in the name; that side of the resort gets much more sun.
All in all, Cypress is a good place to learn for the first few days, and will save you money over a destination resort (like nearby Whistler).READ NEXT: Village life, accommodation & nightlife