Participants keen to find new ways to explore local mountains

High above the city skyline, at Cypress Mountain, Power To Be participants learned what it felt like to fly on a cloud with a little help from the cross-country skis strapped to their feet. Inspired by requests from participants, it was the first time Power To Be offered the activity.

“Skiing is part of the culture here. So many people ski, but our participants don’t always have access to it,” says Manue Serdet, Vancouver program facilitator. “Our participants wanted to try a new activity and push their limits.”

By all accounts the day was a success, full of firsts across the group. The program was open to all participants, making for an eclectic group of skiers. With support needs including vision impairments, mobility concerns, and one individual back on skis for the first time following a brain injury, the staff at Cypress did an amazing job tailoring their lessons to the needs of all, Manue says.

“We had a lot of learnings, like how to guide people who are visually impaired on skis for the first time,” Manue says, noting there was great conversation about what colour of clothing contrasting with the snow would be easiest to follow.

The lesson was focused on getting comfortable on skis, which also meant getting comfortable with losing your footing. Practicing classic cross-country ski style, participants learned how to walk in their skis with toes attached and heels loose. As people get more comfortable, it turned into a mix of walking and sliding, which can be challenging to start, Manue explains.

“Everyone fell,” she says. “That is one part of the learning – that it is ok to fall.”

As participants got the hang of it, the group divided into two, exploring the terrain. Cross-country skiing offers a different experience to downhill skiing – it’s calmer, with more time to look around and be social with your companions, she says. As the groups moved through the snow, they chatted and encouraged each other while taking in the Cypress winter wonderland.

“It’s a new way to experience nature and a good way to feel like you are a part of it,” Manue says. “It’s calm and really quiet. At times, there is just the crunch of your skis on the snow.”

While it may have been the first time Power To Be offered a cross country ski program, it certainly won’t be the last. With positive feedback from participants, several more adventures are planned while the snow lasts.

Get to know your Vancouver mountains

Cypress Mountain and Cypress Provincial Park

A popular cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing destination, Cypress Mountain also offers hiking and mountain biking trails in the warmer months. The park is approximately a 30-minute drive from Vancouver. Learn more.

Grouse Mountain

A popular downhill skiing and snowshoeing destination, Grouse Mountain is perhaps best known for The Grouse Grind™. The 2.9-kilometre hike has been called “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster” as hikers gain 2,800 feet in elevation before being rewarded with stunning views at the top. You can also take in the views by riding the Skyride aerial tram up the mountain. Grouse Mountain is approximately a 25-minute drive from Vancouver. Learn more.

Mount Seymour and Mount Seymour Provincial Park

A popular downhill skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing destination, Mount Seymour Provincial Park also boasts great hiking trails. Trails lead hikers through old-growth and second-growth firs, cedar and hemlock; past meadows and small lakes; as well as by towering rock faces en route to panoramic views of Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Indian Arm and the Coast Mountains. The park is approximately a 40-minute drive from Vancouver. Learn more.