Grouse Mountain

 

 

After spending a few days in Vancouver, inevitably your thoughts will turn to the North Shore mountains which circle the city like a warm hug. At night, from downtown, you can see the lights twinkle on Grouse Mountain's ski lifts and by day, you'll spot the glint from the Eye of the Wind turbine which rises above its peak. But, because this is Vancouver, a trip to the mountains doesn't need to involve much planning. Crampons are not required. You can just hop on a 232 or 236  bus which takes around 20 minutes to Grouse Mountain's base.

 

At this point you need to decide; are you a steely-thighed, rufty-tufty outdoorsy type or, (like me) a wuss? If you long for physical exertion, then you can take on the Grouse Grind challenge, a punishing 2.9km slog with 853 meters of elevation to the top, which will leave you sweating, jelly-legged and achingly smug. Over 100,000 people do this each year and the course record is 25:01 minutes. However most first time Grinders take around 90 minutes to two hours. 

 

Being a wuss, I took the Skyride; North America's longest aerial tramway, a gentle eight-minute glide over the vivid green Douglas firs and sweaty Grinders below. It's worth getting a combined 'Ultimate Experience' pass, as aside from ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the superb city views and enjoying the beauty of the mountains, there's plenty to do when you get up there. The ski lift is just as much fun in the summer when the mountains are a glossy green and flowers dot the meadows, as it is in the winter where you can explore the three terrain parks for boarders and 26 trails for skiers, along with 8km of snow shoe trails.

 

Rise even further and visit the Eye of the Wind, an amazing piece of eco-architecture, the very first (and currently only one of its kind), which allows you to take a lift to its central pod, an all-glass viewing station, just three meters from the rotating blades. On a clear day you can see as far as Washington State. 

 

As for wildlife, you can watch documentaries at the 'Theatre in the Sky' HD cinema as well as see the two orphan bears, Coola and Grinder who live in a habitat on the mountain. Between May to September there are daily birds of prey demonstrations with hawks, owls and golden eagles. 

 

But my favourite part? The three-times daily lumberjack shows. Yes, these are a schmaltzy cheesily-scripted slice of Canadiana, but that's exactly why I loved it. The patter may be flimsy but the skills are real and watching the guys whizz up trees and get into some serious axe and chainsaw play is a lot of fun. As with most things, the lumberjack show is best enjoyed whilst tucking into a maple butter-soaked Beavertail - a kind of flat fried doughnut - which will leave you in a pleasant state of glassy-eyed sugar-high. Just the thing for that Skyride back to the base. 

 

 

 

You can stop in Vancouver with the Discoverer RTW

We also have some great hotel and tour deals here