Black Mountain

On 2 January 2017, Shaun Luong, Zosia Zgolak and I ascended Black Mountain at Cypress Mountain ski resort near Vancouver, British Columbia.  This was our third straight day of AT skiing in the North Shore Mountains, and we were finally blessed with a bluebird day.  Just like Hollyburn Mountain, the route to Black Mountain follows a designated trail (Baden-Powell Trail) which is located just outside the ski resort boundary and is used predominantly by snowshoers.  To access this trail, we had to first pick up a free trail ticket from the lepers' backcountry users' warming room in rustic Black Mountain Lodge.  We then had to elbow our way through the huge crowds queued up in front of the luxurious Cypress Creek Lodge before reaching a controlled opening in a fence.  Upon showing our trail ticket, we were allowed through the fence and proceeded to the trailhead for Black Mountain near Eagle Express chairlift.  Although quite steep in a few places, the trail is easy to follow all the way to Cabin Lake.  From there, we turned northward and followed a beaten track without any difficulty to the top of Black Mountain's north (true) summit.

After soaking up the sunshine and stunning views, we reluctantly returned to Cabin Lake and headed for Black Mountain's south summit.  At the top of the south summit, Zosia was feeling chilled and descended quickly to get out of the wind.  I stayed at the top to take a few more photos, but when I was ready to descend, I saw Shaun ski down the south side of the summit (we had ascended the north side).  I assumed that he was following Zosia down to ski the snowshoers' loop which visits a number of smaller lakes nearby before circling back to Cabin Lake.  By the time I caught up to Shaun, we both realized that Zosia had gone back down to Cabin Lake.  For some odd reason, Shaun and I decided to ski the rest of the loop rather than backtrack over the top of the south summit.  Thankfully, Zosia was smart enough to figure out where we both went, and she intercepted us just as we were completing the loop (not really worth it).  Reunited, we briefly skied down our ascent trail before cutting over to the ski resort for a much easier run back to the base area.

As if we did not have enough misunderstandings for the day, Shaun became separated from Zosia and me on our ski down.  While he waited for us near the trailhead, Zosia and I ended up skiing directly to Black Mountain Lodge.  Fortunately, Shaun's phone was still on, and I was able to send him a text message and get him to rendezvous with us in the warming room.  I am happy to report that I did not get separated from the other two on our way back to my car, but I actually had to consult my GPS at one point to locate my car in the parking lot.  Such are the hazards of skiing at Cypress Mountain!

Gooooooooood morning, Vancouver!!!

A pullout along Cypress Bowl Road grants this view of Vancouver including Lions Gate Bridge and Stanley Park.

So...which way to the trailhead?? Zosia and Sonny arrive at Cypress Mountain base area after a 400-metre ski from the parking lot.
Hanging like the Sword of Damocles over backcountry users... Big icicles dangle off the roof of Black Mountain Lodge.
The avalanche danger is rated "Considerable"! After a bit of a haul through the base area of the ski resort, Zosia finally arrives at the trailhead to Black Mountain.
I'm starting to tire of skinning up snowshoers' trails... Zosia and Shaun skin up a steep section of trail.
No ice fishing? Cabin Lake is covered with snow on this day.
Looks like Old Man Winter sneezed on these trees! Zosia follows Shaun up a beaten track leading to the north summit of Black Mountain.
Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy... Sonny is happy to see sunshine again.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

It's a marshmallow world in the winter!

Snowy trees surround the summit area of Black Mountain.


This is maybe the clearest view of the Lions I have ever had. The Lions look striking to the north.
More like "Tantalizing Range"! Visible further north are Howe Sound and the Tantalus Range.
The Kanetrooper is still missing in the North Shore Mountains! Shaun, Zosia and Sonny stand on the north (true) summit of Black Mountain (1226 metres).
I would love to try and ski up Mount Baker someday... The top of Eagle Express chairlift is barely visible through the trees at left.  On the other hand, Mount Baker is easily seen on the horizon to the southeast.
Kinda looks higher... The lower south summit of Black Mountain is visible at right.
Mount Elphinestone looks like an easy ski ascent... Mount Elphinstone is the snowy summit to the west on the Sunshine Coast.  On the horizon at left are the mountains of Vancouver Island.
Keep your skins on! Shaun heads for the south summit.
They're like sentinels...watching...and waiting... Zosia climbs up between some trees guarding the south summit.
Second summit of the day...sorta! Shaun, Zosia and Sonny pose together atop the south summit of Black Mountain (1216 metres).

Uhh...where did Zosia go??

Shaun is ready to make some turns.


Why is it necessary to name Unecessary Mountain!? Here is a comprehensive view of (L to R) Brunswick Mountain, Unnecessary Mountain, The Lions and Mount Strachan from the south summit.
It's hard to tell in this photo, but there are people standing on the summit. A break in the trees to the east reveals Hollyburn Mountain.
A rare bluebird day on the lower mainland. Although it is about 10 metres lower than the north summit, the south summit has a clearer view of Mount Baker (right) and the Fraser River valley.
Polish ski bunny! Zosia makes a few turns going down the ski resort.

Photo courtesy of Shaun Luong

Nice weather made this short trip memorable. Total Distance:  7.8 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  3 hours 55 minutes
Net Elevation Gain:  320 metres

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