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On the top of Motel 66

Vancouver's Top Beginner Ski Touring Routes

Vancouver's nearby mountains are the perfect venue for experienced skiers to transition into backcountry touring.

Ski Touring Easy, Moderate

On the top of Motel 66
On the top of Motel 66


The ease of access to the backcountry from Metro Vancouver has led to a big increase in folks interested in backcountry skiing, but it can be hard to know where to start. This guidebook is organized by terrain complexity and some mentions of what kind of weather each route is ideal for.

In BC AST 1 is considered essential before going into the backcountry. Avalanche bulletins can be found at avalanche.ca along with information on avalanche awareness. It is also not a good idea for brand new skiers as our thick snow can cause serious leg injuries to those unused to skiing. Seymour mountain has very cheap passes, and is a great place to spend a season learning before jumping into high consequence terrain.

The best first route would be Zoa or Red Heather. Zoa is located on the Coquihalla, about 2hours drive from the city. It is quite similar to Red Heather though a bit shorter. Red Heather is near Squamish, up the road behind Quest University. The terrain is generally not very steep, and avalanches are easier to avoid here. The road is often the most dangerous part of the journey! It is easiest to navigate in the sun, but both Zoa and Red Heather are good on overcast days as well. Disease Ridge is located east of the 7th Heaven chairlift on Blackcomb. It’s not much good when the sun is out as it gets sun affected fast, but in grim conditions it can be great fun. Musical Bumps is a bit more complex, and requires some route finding. Clear weather is recommended for one's first trip here.

Gin Peak requires purchasing a pass at Callaghan, but it’s a very short route with pretty descent snow, mostly in the trees. Above treelike things get dangerous so keep to the tree line. Motel 66 is located up Cerise Creek. The terrain around this route is very complex, so this is a good trip to build up too. There is a good spot for camping nearby (the hut is currently closed). Pump Peak is a popular route, though more for a ski touring workout than for good skiing. The terrain is short, and often steep, so picking your route, and careful navigation are key.

These routes are by no means the only ones out there, but they offer a great list to start working through, and give skiers a chance to explore the main corners of Ski Touring in Southwest BC.

Routes included

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