Grouse Mountain is one of the North Shore Mountains of the Pacific Ranges in the District Municipality of North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Exceeding 1,200 m (4,000 feet) in altitude at its peak, is the site of an alpine ski area, Grouse Mountain Resort, which in the winter season overlooks Greater Vancouver with four chairlifts servicing 26 runs. In the summer, Grouse Mountain Resort features lumberjack shows, a birds of prey wildlife demonstration, a scenic chairlift ride, and a 2.9 km (1.8 mi.) hiking trail known as the Grouse Grind, as well as helicopter sightseeing. Year-round operations include a 100-seat mountaintop theatre and a wildlife refuge. Public access to the mountain top is by a Swiss Garaventa aerial tramway, or the Grouse Grind hiking trail (Open for hiking May-October.)
Grouse Mountain's first lodge was hand-built by Scandinavians in the 1920s. They hauled planks up what would become the Grouse Grind hiking trail for the venture. Another company wanted to build a funicular railway for a private resort on the mountain, though that venture never materialized. By the 1930s, a toll road was built to the top via the slope of what is now the mountain's primary ski run, the "Cut", to access the lodge.
The area at the bottom of the "Cut"—one of Vancouver's most well-known ski runs—is the original base of the mountain, where the area's first lodge and rope tow were built. The base became known as the "Village" to local skiers, since numerous cabins were built in the trees surrounding the lodge and the base of the old Cut chairlift. Some of these cabins still exist and they are located below and to the west of the old Cut chairlift. The gravel road that was built to access the base, the Old Grouse Mountain Highway, still exists and is currently only used for maintaining the ski area.
In 1949, the mountain's first double chairlift was constructed, allowing skiing down the Cut from the top of the ridge. Grouse Mountain claims this lift to have been the world's first double chairlift, however, it was actually the second chairlift in Vancouver after the "Hollyburn" at Cypress Bowl and the third in Canada after Red Mountain Resort; the first chair in the world was at Sun Valley in 1936. Two years later, in 1951, another a longer lift, running from a bus stop on Skyline Drive, at the bottom of the mountain, was opened, known as the Village Chair. This two seater chairlift included wooden towers (some of these towers and the lift line cable wheels are still visible on a hike following the Village Chair's lift line). Each of the chairs were, for a time, equipped with a metal roof to keep skiers dry on rainy or snowy days during the ride up to the base of the old Cut Chair lift. There's video footage on YouTube of the Grouse Mountain Chairlift:5 130' long with a 1650' vertical. That's the lower, longer, steeper lift from the top of Skyline Road that was built 1st in 1949 and the Cut chair replaced the rope tow in 1951. So what was written above is incorrect; this article as the 1949 and 1951 chairlifts reversed.
After a fire destroyed the original lodge in the winter of 1962, the two original lifts were removed in the 1970s. The government of British Columbia, seeing the possibilities for tourism, provided funding and permits for a new lodge to be built on the ridge, as well as an aerial tramway travelling to the mountaintop from the valley below. The tramway, known as the Blue Tram, was built by Austrian steel company Voestalpine and was opened and inaugurated on December 15, 1966, by Premier W. A. C. Bennett.
Ten years later, the mountain was purchased from its original owners by the McLaughlin family in 1976. The new ownership provided additional funding for the construction of a second aerial tramway, built by Garaventa, known as the Red Tram or Super Skyride, that same year. The Super Skyride, using much larger gondola cars holding several dozen passengers, is now the main tram, arriving at a separate top terminal building a short walk from the lodge. The older Blue Tram is now mainly used to transport staff and supplies directly to the lodge structure.
The new ski area featured the Peak and Blueberry Chairs, which were both built in the 1960s and early 1970s, while the additional Inferno Chair was constructed in 1976. With only partial ownership of the mountain, the McLaughlin family obtained full ownership in 1989 and proceeded to construct Canada's first high-definition theatre, dubbed the Theatre in the Sky, in 1990 by expanding the present-day lodge.
As the Inferno, Blueberry and Peak Chairs began to age in the 2000s, all three lifts were removed due to insurance issues, beginning with the Inferno in late 2003 and the Blueberry and Peak the following year. All three were effectively replaced by Grouse Mountain's second high-speed and detachable quad chair built by North American aerial lift manufacturer Leitner-Poma for the 2005 winter season. (The first was the Screaming Eagle on the Cut.) The chair was named the Olympic Express in commemoration of Vancouver's recent designation for the 2010 Winter Games. Although no official 2010 Olympic events were held on the mountain (snowboard and freestyle ski races took place at the Cypress Mountain Ski Area a few kilometres to the west), during the Games, NBC Today broadcast its coverage of the games live from Grouse Mountain.
In 2008, Grouse Mountain constructed two new quad chairs; one to replace the Courtesy rope tow at the bottom of the Paradise run and the other to replace the defunct peak chair, which closed after the Olympic Express was built in 2004. Both chairlifts were designed to run at a slower speed to accommodate beginners and children.
Grouse Mountain has built a 1.5 megawatt wind turbine of Leitwind LTW77-1500 type with 65 metres hub height and 76.8 metres rotor diameter at the peak of the resort. The facility, which is anticipated to eventually supply 25% of the resort’s electricity, is the first wind turbine built in North America in an extreme high altitude location. The design was recognised in the 2011 Consulting Engineers of British Columbia "Awards for Engineering Excellence".
Construction of the turbine began in September 2008 as a collaboration between Grouse Mountain and Italy’s Leitwind Technology. It was inaugurated on February 5, 2010, by BC Premier Gordon Campbell prior to the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games. Tours of the facility officially began on February 26, 2010, and the turbine was connected to BC Hydro's transmission system on September 22, 2010.
The turbine weighs more than 250 tonnes and rises 65 metres from its base to the top of the tower. Three 37.4 metre, fiberglass reinforced polyester blades sweep an area of 4,657 square metres. The support tower includes an observation deck that is accessible by elevator.
The project has had its difficulties: a dispute with BC Hydro over safety equipment was not resolved until late 2010, so the project generated no useful power until then. The turbine is conspicuously visible from much of the city of Vancouver, and some are ambivalent about its effect on the skyline. There are also concerns about the rapidly moving turbine blades hitting wildlife. Finally, there continue to be questions about claims made by Grouse Mountain Resorts about the power generation capability of the mill, estimated by GMR at 25% of the resort's needs, or enough energy to power 400 homes.
The ski and snowboard area, located on the southern slope of the mountain, operates in the winter months between December and May, approximately. Accessed by taking the gondola (often called the tram) from the base to the mountaintop chalet and lodge, it features four chairlifts (two high-speed quads, the Screaming Eagle and Olympic Express; and two quads, the Greenway and Peak Chairs) facilitating 26 runs, half of which are lit for night skiing and snowboarding.
The most prominent run on the mountain is the Cut, one of two beginner runs, which is easily visible from the Vancouver area. It runs alongside the Screaming Eagle chairlift. East of the Cut are several intermediate runs, which take skiers and snowboarders down to the Olympic Express, which accesses the mountain's easternmost expert runs, most of which originate from the mountain's 4,100-foot (1,200 m) peak. Altogether, Grouse Mountain features three green (beginner), 15 blue (intermediate), six black diamond (advanced) and two double black diamond (expert) runs. There are also three freestyle terrain parks—the novice to intermediate Rookie Terrain and Paradise Jib Parks, as well as the intermediate to expert Quiksilver Terrain Park. Depending on snow conditions, there is also another terrain park for experts called the Cut Jump Line, which is located on the left side of the Cut.
Grouse Mountain is also home to the Tyee Ski Club, an organization for training children and youth to become competitive alpine ski racers in slalom, giant slalom and super-giant slalom skiing.
In addition to the 305 centimetres of annual natural snowfall, the mountain uses 37 snow guns, covering 75% of the ski and snowboard terrain, for artificial snowmaking. With the capacity to extend the snow season into the spring and account for fluctuations in weather, the mountain invested in a self-reported $7 million in snowmaking equipment over a decade spanning the mid-1990s and 2000s.
The Munday Alpine Snowshoe Park includes four main groomed snowshoeing trails—the beginner-intermediate Blue Grouse Loop and three trails circling Dam Mountain and Thunder Bird Ridge.
Adjacent to the mountaintop chalet and lodge is an 8,000-square-foot (740 m2) outdoor ice rink.
Grouse Mountain is also the location of a very popular hiking trail known as the Grouse Grind. It is a steep trail that climbs 853 m (2800 feet) from the gate and timer near the bottom of the trail to the "Grind Timer" at the top of the trail, a distance of 2.9 km (1.8 mi), with an average grade of 17° (31%) and short sections of up to 30° (58%). The total number of stairs is 2,830. The trail, nicknamed "Mother Nature's Stairmaster", is notoriously gruelling due to its steepness and mountainous terrain. Hikers, who often time themselves on the trail, reach the top in approximately 90 minutes on average although some who are very fit can finish in under 30 minutes. The Grouse Grind trail is closed by Metro Vancouver (the landowner) each winter usually from November to April, due to hazardous geotechnical and weather conditions, by means of a steel gate and security fence.
Don McPherson and Phil Severy built the Grind in the early 1980s as a 'climbers winter conditioning trail', unauthorised by the Greater Vancouver regional district (now Metro Vancouver) or the owners of the nearby Grouse Mountain Resort. The land is technically owned by the Greater Vancouver Water District arm of Metro Vancouver (GVWD), but it is not a watershed. Don McPherson also supervised the FMCBC-sponsored first rebuild of the Grouse Grind in the early 1990s, which Grouse Mountain Resort partly assisted with. However the recent near-complete rebuild of the Grind (2010-2014) as a wooden staircase is one reason for the closure for 5 to 6 months each winter.
The fastest recorded ascents as of September 2010 were:
The unofficial record is on the Grind Trail only, while there is a slight additional distance to the finish line for the Grind Mountain Run; the unofficial record was properly timed, but on a shorter course.
Oliver Bibby of Vancouver took the record for most grinds completed in a 24-hour period on August 7, 2013, having done the Grind 16 times within 20 hours. George Sterling had the previous record, having done the grind 15 times within 19 hours on October 5, 2011. Sebastian Albrecht of Vancouver had set the previous records, doing the grind 14 times on June 29, 2010, and previously (shared with Vicki Mann) completing 13 climbs on June 22, 2009.
The start of the Grouse Grind was relocated in 2011 to a location on the Baden-Powell trail closer to the gate: previously it started on the B-P Trail 130 metres East of the gate (and timer) and now it is only 20 metres East. Hikers wishing to use the original alignment can still find the original start point close to the BCMC Trail. The difficulty of the trail is often underestimated. The District of North Vancouver Fire and Rescue (IAFF L1183 http://www.iaff1183.org) conducts many rescues each year of hikers who collapse on the Grouse Grind, or begin too late in the evening and are unprepared to find their way in the dark.
Money saving hint: Despite the sign at the bottom of the trail, there is no law or authority that prohibits walking down this public land. The BCMC trail starts and ends at the same spots as the main trail, and you won't disturb the upwards climbers.
The aerial tramway used as a main plot point in the 1989 MacGyver episode "Cease Fire", standing in for Geneva, Switzerland.
Grouse Mountain and its aerial tramway stood in for the fictional "Skyland Mountain" in the Blue Ridge of Virginia, in the 1994 The X-Files episode Ascension. Actor David Duchovny also dangled himself in a gondola of the sky ride for a scene of the episode.
The Grouse Mountain ski lodge and facilities were used in the filming of the modern film adaptation of the popular cartoon Mr. Magoo.
Canadian singer-songwriter Nelly Furtado filmed the video for her single "Spirit Indestructible" in Grouse Mountain.
Grouse Mountain was used for the filming of the midseason finale of the third season of Arrow, The Climb, serving as the location of the duel between Oliver Queen and Ra's al Ghul.
Grouse Mountain was used as the fictional ski resort "Summit Peaks" in the movie American Pie Presents: The Book of Love