November 20, 2017
Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure
PO Box 9850
Stn Prov Govt
Victoria BC V8W9T5
Dear Mr. Main,
RE: Earlier opening of Cypress Bowl Road in winter
I represent the British Columbia Mountaineering Club which is an organization of over 1,000 members in the Lower Mainland. We engage in backcountry ski trips in Cypress Provincial Park which is reached from Cypress Bowl Road in West Vancouver. One trip requires a full day to traverse the Howe Sound Crest to Lions Bay. An early start is required for avalanche safety and to avoid coming out in the dark. During winter and spring Cypress Bowl Road opens at 7 AM. I am writing to request the road open at 6 AM in winter and 5 AM in spring.
I have spoken with Jesse Morwood, the area manager for Squamish about an earlier opening. He has said that an earlier opening by one or two hours would require additional maintenance services that are not currently budgeted for. I understand that position. However, I would like to understand what those costs are. Could not accommodation be made by using road sensors to determine actual conditions combined with weather forecasts and weather station observations to determine when road crews should be present or on standby?
Currently, with the road opening at 7 AM it takes about 45 minutes to an hour to drive up the road, park, gear up and enter the backcountry. That one hour is often a critical safety factor in the mountains for parties traveling the Howe Sound Crest on skis. I did an informal poll on Facebook in the South Coast Touring group last winter to gauge the number of parties attempting the crest traverse. In a short period of time of a few weeks in January, 28 people had done the traverse and another 92 were intending to do it. I suspect the actual numbers would be even higher. In my opinion, that is a significant amount of increased risk that each person takes on because of the relatively late start that is the only option available.
Currently, a Cypress Mountain Resort employee mans the gatehouse near the bottom of Cypress Bowl Road. I ask that your ministry instruct C.M.R. to open the road one hour earlier for the winter season. Even 30 minutes earlier would allow parties to maximize daylight for backcountry travel during the shortest days of winter.
[British Columbia Mountaineering Club]