On Friday my friend B and I took a short trip over to the North Shore for a laid back day at Cypress Bowl. It was chilly, with cloud hanging low over the mountain and a fine dust of snow falling. It’s the first time I’ve been up to Cypress since the new lodge opened and the Olympic construction has really gotten underway. The grandstand at the foot of the Eagle Chair, overlooking the half-pipe and freestyle zone, is mindblowingly huge. The parking lot closures didn’t cause us any serious inconvenience because so few people were on the mountain on a cold, gloomy weekday, but there was a fair bit of trekking around the lodge and the start of the runs. I was really impressed by the lodge expansion, especially the Crazy Raven bar and grill.
Both B and I wanted to spend the day working technique. We spent most of the day cruising runs below the Lions Express and Raven Chairs, concentrating on drills, weight and body position. By the end of the day, we both felt that we’d put a real dent in our close-season regression. The snow overall was not bad at all; there were icy stretches, especially on the Rainbow face, along with some very decent snow on the sides of runs and the lower part of the mountain. We took a brief run on First Sun, which was still closed; it was a curious but entertaining mix of pockets of deeper powder and icy ridges with just a dusting of fresh snow. Tracks left by previous skiers and boarders had frozen and the flat light left me completely unable to see them in my woefully inadequate goggles (my lovely new Smiths fell victim to a moment of inattention on my last trip to Whistler), which added an extra dimension to the run.
Overall the run closures didn’t really impact the skiing too much, although that’ll be a different story come 2010. After missing Cypress entirely last season (I did my local skiing at Seymour) it was a good reminder that it’s a pretty decent hill, and the discounted pricing makes up (for now) for the Olympic inconveniences. It’s a shame it’ll be out of commission for so long, although having Grouse open for 24 hours during the games isn’t bad compensation. I’m going to have to go for at least one all-night skiing session, just because I can.