Toddler Skiing Update – Grouse Mountain

Building on the success of 2020-21 skiing season, where Junior finally got into skiing after 15 visits to the ski hills, we got a season pass to Grouse Mountain this year.

At first we were weary about the Skyride Tram being risky during the COVID19 pandemic, but we were relieved to find out that Grouse Mountain has implemented a vaccine mandate for all visitors this year. We would also avoid the busiest of times, and only come during a week day.

Sparsely loaded tram ride.

We signed up for some Ski Wee group lessons, open to kids over 3 years old who are toilet trained, because we know Junior would learn better from a ski instructor. Toddler lessons at Grouse Mountain seem to be the best deal among the 3 local mountains. It includes 3 hours of instruction (minus a snack break in between), and tram tickets for both the toddler and an adult.

The beginner friendly paradise run on Grouse Mountain is the perfect length to practice if you are ready for the chair lift. If not, there is a magic carpet but it’s quite short.

We wanted to make sure Junior makes the best of his first ski lesson, so we came up for a few times to warm up. The December cold snap in Vancouver with a good dump of snow for a week was also helpful for some practice right at home.

He was a little timid at first, but after 2 runs he was right back to where he left off last season.

Because we had the season pass, we don’t feel too much of a sting when Junior gets tired and wants to call it quits early.

Since we booked his ski lesson well in advance, we took a chance on the weather. We lost that bet pretty badly, as it was foggy and rainy all afternoon. But a bonus was Junior got his instructor all to himself!

Almost immediately I could see the difference an instructor could make. Junior was listening and following the instructions much better, even though I asked him to do the exact same things. He would just pizza down to the teacher and even make his pizza turns. No whining and no bargaining.

I took the chance to do a few runs myself, but the weather was just too terrible to enjoy it. I waited for the phone call to pick up an upset Junior early, but it never came. By the time the lesson ended, my ski jacket and pants were soaked through. I could only imagine how wet Junior got.

But no, he was just skiing stoically with his teacher, doing his turns without complaining. Only after I picked him up did he start crying from the wet and cold. It was a tough 40 minutes to get him off the mountain but I was very proud of him for putting up with it for 3 hours.

I thought the experience would put him off skiing or at least formal skiing lessons for a while, but no. He wouldn’t stop asking for another ski lesson. And not with me, it has to be another “cool teacher”.

Tina and Little Bro started joining us on the mountain too.

Little Bro started skiing in our local parks during the cold snap, and we were pleasantly surprised how much he liked it. He’s not quite 2 years old, but already he seemed ready to start skiing.

Learning to pizza from the big brother in Quilchena Park.
Little Bro’s first time on the Skyride

Little Bro has a very different temperament. Since the beginning he has always been more adventurous and not afraid of stepping out of his comfort zone. Whereas Junior would assess the risk and avoid danger, Little Bro would try it and brush off the pain if he fell.

As a result, we skipped the ski tether, ropes, even magic carpet, and just went straight for the chair lift.

Facing down the chair lift for the first time with no fear.
“Chair leet!”

Little Bro was able to walk on his skis and slide down to me. He doesn’t know how to break yet, and would just speed up until I stop him.

After the success, even Little Bro couldn’t stop talking about skiing. It was time to get a second set of gears, a full year ahead of expectation. Once we are sure they like skiing, buying is better than renting even if they outgrow their skis after 2 years.

We figured it would only take 10-15 skiing sessions to break even with renting the skis, and we would save a lot of time at rental. I expect the 80cm skis would last at least until they are 5 years old, which in Little Bro’s case, would be 4 skiing seasons.

All geared up

One inconvenient aspect about Grouse Mountain is that the Chalet is pretty far from the ski slopes, and there wasn’t really an easy place to watch the kids skiing if the parents don’t ski. Also, the Ski Wee building is a few hundred meters out, so we need to take a sleigh ride to get there.

Sleigh ride to ski class.

Junior got his wish and got another cool teacher. This time, the weather was superb and he had 2 classmates.

Off he went without any hesitation.

Junior was able to link up his pizza turns into S turns, and can go down the slope at a good distance from the teacher.

I spent the afternoon skiing with Little Bro, getting lots of comments from people around us. It was pretty obvious that he was a really early starter.

Being under 2 years old, Little Bro didn’t quite follow instruction or even understand much human speech yet. He would just say “pizza” and proceed to ski however he wanted. My goal with him at this stage was to cultivate his interest and keep him safe. As he didn’t know how to stop and didn’t care either, I would stay within a quick reach.

During his snack break with Tina, I snuck in a few runs on this gorgeous blue bird day.

Junior finished his lesson and the bros met up for a quick snack.

Then we were treated to a gorgeous sunset.

Overall, Grouse Mountain is a great family-friendly local ski resort. The skyride tram can be both a pro and a con, since it provides a dramatic view of Vancouver and significantly shortens the drive up the mountain. As a result, it’s very rare to see snow in the parking lot at Grouse. But during the pandemic, it does feel a bit claustrophobic, but the vaccine and mask mandate definitely help put our minds at ease.

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3 responses to “Toddler Skiing Update – Grouse Mountain”

  1. […] For Lesson 15, we went up the chair lift one more time in early February but I felt we have hit a wall in terms of progression. Junior was very comfortable being held and ski down at fair bit of speed, but he wasn’t ready to ski independently yet. We wrapped up our ski season early and made plans to sign him up for ski lessons next season. […]

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