How to ski in Vancouver on a student budget

Ski fever is in the air.

With the white Christmas fresh in our minds and the Pyeonchang Olympic Winter Games just around the corner, January feels like the perfect time for new athletic beginnings. To top it off, it’s another La Nina year — which means a wintry, healthy ski season like the last one. And what better way to start off the new year than picking up a new sport?

If you didn’t jump on the Whistler train when it left in November, the cheapest way to ski is to ski locally. In fact, it’s so cheap that sometimes it’s free.

Special slope days


Winter baby? Good news, Cypress offers free skiing on your birthday — just be sure to bring your ID with you.

Mount Seymour

Are you so strapped for cash that you’re subsisting on a diet of ramen and shredded textbooks? Starting January 22, Mount Seymour will also offer skiing by donation for female skiers and riders — $15 donation, of which $7.50 goes to The Bloom Group — from 6 to 10 p.m. on Monday nights for their Shred for the Cause Ladies’ Nights. For men, it’s $33 — still ridiculously cheap. You can feel good about sparing those extra dollars too: last year, Mount Seymour raised $26,000 for social services in the Downtown Eastside.

Starting January 24, their Carload Wednesdays will allow up to eight people per vehicle to ski or ride for $99 in a push against needless gas emissions. One caveat to bear in mind though: you will need minimum four vehicle occupants to qualify. This price also does not include rentals if you need them!

Grouse Mountain

If you want more bang for your buck, Grouse Mountain’s 24 Hours of Winter is also not to be missed. On February 17 to 18, you can party on the slope for 24 hours for the price of a lift ticket.

The Lower Mainland is having another great ski season.
The Lower Mainland is having another great ski season. Courtesy Emily Kuang

Daily deals

The cheapest way to ski regularly when there are no discounts is to night ski. Stuck at labs until 5 p.m.? Have no fear: all the North Shore mountains offer night skiing. At Grouse, it’s $49 from 4-10 p.m., $33 for Mount Seymour from 5:30-10 p.m. and $39 for Cypress.

Cypress is also known to regularly offer students 40 per cent off during a weekday of their choosing, so check their website for daily deals — in the past, it’s been Thursdays or Fridays. Paying full price at Cypress is also generally ill advised, so save money by purchasing a Gold Medal Card and by pre-booking your ticket online.

Getting your hands on the right gear is an important part of skiing and snowboarding.
Getting your hands on the right gear is an important part of skiing and snowboarding. Courtesy Emily Kuang

Getting gear

Don’t know how to ski and need to get your hands on some gear? After awakening your inner shredder, you, too, can whiz through the air without it costing an arm or leg and start your path to becoming a local legend with the $99 3Ski Night pass for Mount Seymour, where you can rent equipment, fall, laugh and ride for three nights.

Depending on your roommates’ tolerance of stinky gear and your commitment level to the sport, skis can also be bought or rented for less than the cost of new gear.

On the rental side, all mountains offer day rentals. Cypress even offers a rental equipment pass that allows you to rent a pair of skis or snowboard all season for $199.

If owning your gear sounds more appealing to you, Sports Junkies on Broadway — near Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) — offers complete ski packages starting at $199. For cheap winter insulation, Cheapskates on West 16 has deals on lightly used jackets — they run anywhere under $50 for a jacket.

Those who have honed their taste for gear, however, best head to Craigslist or MEC online gear swap. Often expensive skis are sold at a fraction of the cost due to injury or travel. Simply set up email notifications — click “save search” on the upper right hand corner after you search an item — and you will be rewarded.

Even here on campus, telemark ski gear is accessible through the Varsity Outdoor Club. If you are a club member, you just need to put a deposit down on what you borrow.

With so many ways to ski for less, there’s no excuse not to get out on the slopes. Skiing can seem like a sport that only elitists can enjoy, but armed with inside knowledge, you can start now.

This article has been updated to reflect that the Varsity Outdoor Club provides telemark ski gear for its members, not every type of ski gear.