It’s snack time for Boo the Bear. Ross Prather approaches with a bucket of fish carcasses and kitchen compost. It’s a hot summer’s day and Boo has found a shady spot among the fir trees to laze away the afternoon. However the scent of a snack gets his attention; a grizzly’s sense of smell is so acute it can detect an animal carcass more than 30 kms away upwind. Under normal circumstances such proximity would be perilous – man with bucket of food, hungry 275 kg grizzly bear steps away – if it wasn’t for the electric fence separating the two.
Boo the Bear has made his home at Kicking Horse Grizzly Bear Interpretive Centre since first arriving in 2003, when he was orphaned after his mother was shot by a poacher. Over the years Prather, refuge manager, has gotten to know this wise old bear well. The specially built, 10-hectare fenced enclosure, found on the Eagle Express Gondola lift line and accessed in summer via the Catamount chairlift, provides a natural habitat for Boo, with forest, meadows and a running stream.
Ursus arctos horribilis – the grizzly’s Latin name is enough to strike fear into the hearts of even the most seasoned wilderness traveler. However the opportunity to observe this animal up close is a thrilling experience, enabling visitors like my family and I to better understand grizzly behavior and ecology with the help of Prather and his staff. At times Boo stays deep within the confines of his enclosure, perhaps eating dandelions and digging for springtime bulbs in a meadow, or hunting for squirrel or marmots. However when curiosity gets the best of him, or the dinner bell rings, he approaches the fence. We’re lucky today. Boo lumbers out of the forest, snout pointing upward, his powerful shoulders rippling, lustrous silver-brown fir gleaming in the sun. It’ hard to overcome the urge to retreat as Boo comes close, but the fence keeps us safe.
A male grizzly typically ranges a territory of between 350 and 800 square kms, but Boo seems content with his home at Kicking Horse Resort – for the most part. Occasionally his urge has gotten the best of him.
“Boo gets a little randy in springtime,” Prather says, adding that he has left his enclosure a few times in the past in search of a mate.
However he always comes back.
Meal time is over. A horsefly buzzes courageously nearby and Boo shakes his massive head. Oblivious to my family and I observing from a few metres away, he strides the fence line before angling back into the forest and finding a nice muddy pool in which to cool himself. He lowers into the brown water, rolls from side to side, then emerges again, fir dripping with water, then disappears into the cool of the forest. Life is good for Boo and we’re thrilled to share a few moments with him.
Disclaimer – Andrew visited Kicking Horse Mountain Resort to see Boo in 2016, Ross has since left his position with Nicole Gangnon taking over as Grizzly Bear Ranger Manager. Visit Kicking Horse this winter to see Nicole and her team caring for Boo.
August 11, 2016
Matthew Bailey from www.mustdocanada.com recently visited Kicking Horse Mountain Resort to experience the Via Ferrata, ride the bike trails and of course, visit Boo the Bear. Here is some of what he had to say, to read the full story, visit mustdocanada.com.
“…We curled our way around rock ledges as we moved along the ridge-line that divides the Rocky Mountain trench from the Purcell range. We climbed up and down and straddled the face of the mountain while looking down at the incredible scenery. At one point, we also crossed Gut Bridge, which was just a line of metal cable that you have to walk across. If a suspension bridge doesn’t scare you, this just might. Everything is so safe though so it’s a good time to test your fears!
After a couple of hours, we made it to the top of Terminator Peak, which offers absolutely stunning views of the surrounding area. In one direction, we saw Roger’s Pass while in the other direction we saw as far as the Columbia Icefields. Everything was so clear and vivid. It’s the kind of scenery that draws you in and never wants to let you go. I could easily sit down and just stare at the view for the entire day. It’s that beautiful…” Read the rest in his post on mustdocanada.com.
Next up came Boo & biking;
“….I’ve been riding mountain bikes ever since I was a kid but this was the first time I rode one down an actual mountain. For those looking for a mountain-rush during the summer, I can’t think of a better way. For me, going downhill with a bike versus ski’s is much more terrifying…but I was up for the challenge.
First though, my wife Karla and I wanted to see Boo, the resident Grizzly bear. Since Karla wasn’t going to be joining me for the mountain biking, we decided to explore the Grizzly refuge in the morning. Plus, this is when Boo is more active. I don’t blame him. With 25ºC weather and a thick fur coat, I wouldn’t want to be under the sun either….” Read the rest on mustdocanada.com.
1) Eagle’s Eye at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
How to get there: Ride the Eagles Express Gondola from the Plaza to the summit, step outside and see the Eagle’s Eye Restaurant walkway in front of you
What you’ll see: Spectacular views of 6 National parks surrounding the resort (and eat a delicious meal as well).
2) Lost Boys Lookout at Fernie Alpine Resort
How to get there: Ride the Timber Chair to the top and walk a short distance past Lost Boys Café over to the Lost Boys Lookout
What you’ll see: Amazing landscapes of the surrounding peaks of the mountains and of the town of Fernie below.
3) Kimberley, B.C – Lois Creek Trails
How to get there: Parking is available at Centennial Hall. To enter Lois Creek Trails go to either the North End of trail Street, the intersection of 8th and Elko Street or at Centennial Hall at the old Legion Tracks.
What you’ll see: Gorgeous mountain vistas and a variety of wildlife along the trails.
4) Lizard Lookout at Fernie Alpine Resort
How to get there: Ride the Elk Chair to the top and walk a short distance into Lizard Bowl
What you’ll see: Stunning views of the Elk River & town of Fernie
5) Via Ferrata at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort – The Ultimate Mountain View
How to get there: Ride the Eagles Express Gondola from the Plaza to the summit, step outside and proceed to Eagle’s Eye, look for the tent to meet up with your guide and group. Once everyone is there you’ll do some training and head right over to the suspension bridge taking you to the Terminator Peak for the climb of your life!
What you’ll see: If you’re brave enough to turn around and take a look behind you’ll see a stunning stretch of mountains while hanging off the Terminator Peak including 6 National parks, the resort below you and Eagle’s Eye Restaurant off in the distance.
NEW this summer – try the Hanging Glory Suspension bridge! More information.
Photos by Alpenglow BnB, Dave Best
Feature Photo: Dax Justin
Summer might be the best time to get outdoors and enjoy what the mountains have to offer in our amazing backyard in Canada. In recent years, ski resorts in British Columbia have made a series of additions, upgrades and updates to have family friendly activities for adults and the little’s as well as keeping the hardcore activities available for the summer thrill seeker.
Summer is a great time to escape the hustle and city bustle, to relax and recharge. The tranquility of fishing will help those kids forget all about the stress of making the grade at school and will help you take a real mental vacation from work. Fishing provides kids (of all ages) a great lesson about being calm and one with nature in an authentic environment. More information about fishing in Golden is on the Tourism Golden website.
- Take a Hike
No, we’re not telling you to get lost, but we are literally telling you to take a hike. Fernie, Kimberley and Kicking Horse all offer hiking in a mountain setting with amazing views at Fernie and Kicking Horse the lift accessed hiking provides some epic views you won’t on any regular old hike. For more information about hiking in mountain towns visit the Tourism Fernie, Tourism Golden or Tourism Kimberley websites and for more information about lift accessed resort hiking visit the Fernie Alpine Resort or Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.
- See a real bear up close (and learn too)
Perhaps one of the most unique aspects at Kicking Horse is Boo the Bear who lives year round at the resort and has made a name for himself as a local celebrity. Boo has an interesting story of how he ended up making his home at Kicking Horse, in the largest protected Grizzly Bear habitat in the world. While living at the resort he’s offered us humans a rare and special opportunity to learn about the life and practices of Grizzly Bears. Kids and adults of all ages will enjoy taking a Grizzly Bear Interpretive tour and learning about his life at the horse! Get more information about Boo and Interpretive tours on the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.
- Monkey Around
The Aerial Park at Fernie Alpine Resort is a good introduction to find out how the little’s in your family feel about heights. They can try out the free kids aerial park, or if they meet the height restrictions can venture up in the trees. The lesson beforehand from our knowledgeable guides and extensive safety system will allow them to feel safe while far away from the ground! If you have a very adventurous little one (who is at least 10), use the Aerial Park as a stepping stone to trying the Via Ferrata at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Get more information and book the Aerial Park on the Fernie Alpine Resort website.
- Explore historic towns
Many towns in British Columbia have a strong history in mining and have museums or memorials in town to commemorative and conserve the memories. Along with learning about history, try out some of these unique town experiences;
- Visit Beanpod Chocolate (Canada’s Traditional Chocolate maker) in historical Downtown Fernie. Beanpod website.
- Walk the downtown platzl in Kimberley (also location of the Kimberley museum). More info.
- Walk with Wolves in Golden, a truly unique experience in the Canadian Rockies. More info.
- Visit the Heritage town – Fort Steele (near Kimberley, B.C). More info.
- Pop into the Clawhammer Press in Downtown Fernie. Clawhammer Press website.
- Take a golf lesson
Getting them started young is a great way to build impressive golf skills! Check out our websites to see about specials like ‘take a kid to the course day’, ‘family stay & play packs’ and family golf lessons.
- Sunbathe and Swim in the outdoor pools
Staying at ski resorts in the summer offers a full service experience! While many of our hotels have in house or nearby Spas to pamper, gyms to keep in shape and outdoor pools/hot tubs for the kids to keep entertained for hours! Shown in below photo – Lizard Creek Lodge at Fernie Alpine Resort.
- Eat all the food
It might be a bit of a hidden fact (although gaining more and more recognition), mountain towns are the best place to have great food! Each have their own unique restaurants, bars or cafes to check out – all come with an authentic mountain town vibe (guaranteed).
- Mountain Bike ON a mountain
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is a great starting point to get the passion flowing for mountain biking, with a kid’s skills course in the base area set up each summer. Fernie Alpine Resort has also added a myriad of beginning trails over the last couple season to provide a gentle ride down the summer ski slopes. In addition to beginner trails, Fernie Alpine Resort along with the Fernie Trails Society and Fernie Nordic Club unveiled a new Peak to Park multi use trail last summer. Adding a different experience to the mountain biking game – ride the chairlift at Fernie Alpine Resort and bike your way back down to the town. More information about mountain biking at Fernie Alpine Resort and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort can be found on our websites.
- All the best fests
What’s your jam? Outdoor music? Farmers Markets? Hardcore racing events? There is something nearly every weekend in Fernie, Kimberley or Golden. Check out the online events calendars on the resort websites or town tourism websites to find out the schedule for this summer!
Photos: Tourism Golden, @calsnape, Cali Sammel and Patrick Majer.
Try out the only gondola accessed mountain biking in the region at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, with over 3,700 feet of variety, there’s downhill hardcore single tracks with multiple berms, jumps and wooden features as well as lessons and green trails offered for beginners! Golden, B.C has more amazing mountain biking options to offer, being located near Mount 7, one of the most challenging downhills in Canada! Not to worry if you aren’t into the challenge, there are over 100 kms of cross country trails on Mountain Shadows and Moonraker trail systems as well as easier road and mountain cycling. Don’t miss the annual Western Open – B.C Cup, this year on July 2nd & 3rd! Keep an eye on the online events calendar for more information.
There are ‘trails for everyone’ in Kimberley, 3 different trail networks offer everything from beginner riding with gentle, scenic cruises to some adrenaline pumped more difficult trails. With the newest improvements of the trails, the North Star Rails to Trails network is a 25 km long multi use track perfect connecting Kimberley & Cranbrook, perfect for families looking for an afternoon spent exercising outdoors in one of the sunniest places in B.C! Other trails to try are the Lois Creek Trails, geared towards beginner to intermediate riders, and the Kimberley Nature Park, one of the largest municipal parks in Canada for great for riders of all levels. Visit the Tourism Kimberley website for more information on biking in Kimberley.
One of the largest Bike Parks in the region with a recent focus on progression makes Fernie Alpine Resort’s bike park a favourite among the biking community, being voted in the Top 5 Bike Parks in Canada for the last 2 years. Offering cross country, downhill, single track and dual slalom trails accessible from the base area or chair lift as well as a number of green trails and lessons for any ability level to learn the sport or brush up on skills.
Fernie Alpine Resort isn’t the only place to ride in Fernie, along with a number of trails accessed from town, maintained by the Fernie Mountain Bike Club and the Fernie Trails Alliance there have been significant improvements made to a number of trails over the last few summer’s allowing even more people to enjoy scenery around this gorgeous mountain town! A favourite among the youngest generation of riders, Fernie also has a FREE dirt jump park with large & small jumps, bridges and obstacles to check out, located in town near the aquatic centre. For more information on Mountain Biking in Fernie, B.C visit the Fernie Tourism website
For Immediate Release: April 11th, 2016
KICKING HORSE MOUNTAIN RESORT announces EARLY SUMMER OPERATIONS OPENING DATE
Golden, BC – Continuing last year’s momentum, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is scheduled to open daily from May 28 to September 25, creating a must-visit spot for summer adventurers and families alike. A Preview Weekend is tentatively scheduled for May 20-22, our Bike Park and Via Ferrata operations will be available starting from June 25, pending terrain conditions.
Summer at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort;
VIA FERRATA Secured Climbing Route – Get vertical at the most exhilarating Via Ferrata (Italian for iron path) in Western Canada! Confirmed and apprentice climbers alike will tackle Terminator Peak’s north face & venture through 2 custom courses and 1 suspension bridge. Giddy up!
GRIZZLY – Close encounters of the grizzly kind! Our Grizzly Bear Refuge – home to Boo, our resident grizzly – is the world’s largest enclosed and protected grizzly bear habitat. Tours are available daily.
GONDOLA + MOUNTAINS – Whisk up to 7,700 feet in a gondola ride with 360° views. The altitude won’t take your breath away, but the views still will! With amazing views of 6 mountain ranges and 5 national parks, this is the finest in Canadian vistas and a quintessential BC experience. Choose your hiking path along the top of the world.
DINING – A wide variety of culinary establishments to pique every palate. There’s award winning dining, casual Rocky Mountain comfort food, grab-n-go breakfasts, grills, pubs and cafes. Visit Eagle’s Eye Restaurant, Canada’s Most Elevated Dining Experience.
MOUNTAIN BIKING – Explore our award-winning bike park with over 4000 feet of vertical, 50kms of single tracks, wicked dirt jumps, great tech shop and exceptional bike and equipment rental. Did we mention a great pump track, lift serviced riding and daily bike lessons?
Call our reservations specialists to enjoy on-mountain luxury accommodation at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort! From slopeside boutique hotels to condos and resort homes, package your accommodation with summer activities for further savings.
For more information, please contact:
Senior VP Marketing & Resort Experience
Resorts of the Canadian Rockies
Twitter – @PowderMatt • Powder Matt’s Blog • Powder Matt on Pinterest • Powder Matt on Google +
Kokanee has released a brand new brew of beer, a beer infused with water from a glacier that’s been around since 1962. Glacier water from 1962 was chosen as that’s the year Kokanee beer was first brewed in Creston, B.C.
Pick up the Kokanee Deja Brew at a liquor store near you, and get fueled up for winter with the glacier fresh taste of the beer out here!
If you think ski resorts are only to be visited during the fall and winter months in Canada, you would be very wrong! (Arguably), some of the best fun to had at a ski resort is in fact during the summer months. Fernie Alpine Resort in Fernie, B.C and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in Golden, BC both offer unique summer experiences for the extreme adventurer, the not so overly adventurous and families!
Take a Hike or go for a Bike
What do ski resorts have that almost no other places have? Chairlifts & gondolas! At ski resorts some of the best hiking is at the top of the mountain; access these scenic trails as well as mountain biking trails through the lifts at Fernie Alpine Resort and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Both resorts take special care of their trails in the summer to ensure they are a smooth ride down on your bike or a safe walk along the ridge with the family.
Photos: New lizard Bowl viewing platform at Fernie Alpine Resort with spectacular views of both the bowl and town, access via summer road hiking trail and biking with the family at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.
Fly through the Trees or Scale the Mountain Face
In Fernie, BC you can fly through the trees in the Aerial Park (think a series of obstacle courses in the tree tops), both kids and adults have a great time attempting the features! Don’t worry if your child doesn’t meet the height or age requirements, there is also a FREE mini kids park located nearby (parental supervision required). For an even more extreme adventure, hit up the new Via Ferrata at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and brave this ‘iron road’ by climbing along a series of steps on the Terminator mountain face, only after you cross the suspension bridge!
Don’t worry about a thing! Both our air activities include instructions, qualified guides and of course you’re harnessed in.
Photos: Aerial Park at Fernie Alpine Resort and Via Ferrata at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.
Go for a Bite on a Mountaintop Patio
With the gorgeous British Columbia weather on our side, there are a variety of mountain eateries as well as top of the mountain patios for you to stop by during your adventure or for a lengthy lounge session! Here is a short list of not to miss, fully licensed, patios (there are many more places to eat at both resorts as well as in town);
Lost Boys Café in Fernie (open weekends and located at the top of the Timber Chairlift)
Eagle’s Eye Restaurant in Kicking Horse (located at the Top of the Gondola)
Lizard Creek Lodge patio at Fernie Alpine Resort (located at the base of the Resort)
Peaks at Kicking Horse (located at the base of the Resort)
Photos: Lost Boys Cafe at Fernie Alpine Resort and Eagle’s Eye Restaurant at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.
Learn about Nature
The mountains are an amazing opportunity to enjoy the outdoors while learning important safety information about the environment surrounding us. New this summer at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort are the ‘Rambler’s Hikes’, with 3 themes to join in on in March including staying safe in bear country, geology on the trench and nothing but photos. While at Fernie Alpine Resort, make your way up the Elk Chair to Nature Bob’s Interpretive Centre to learn about the flora and fossils found in the region. Guided Hikes with Nature Bob are also available where you’ll learn about our trails, trees and berries including which ones are safe to eat and which ones aren’t!
Photos: NEW Ramblers Hike at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and Nature Bob’s Interpretive Centre at Fernie Alpine Resort.
In Canada we know the summer season is short, but we still have time! So don’t delay, book your summer trip to a resort today!!
Words & Photos by Andrew Findlay
The only thing between me and countless free falling vertical metres of alpine air are some rungs of steel drilled into the rock, and a climbing harness tethered to steel cable. I grasp a rung, scuff a boot onto a ledge as wide as a deck of cards, then pause to study the quartzite in front me, its surface checked and split like a well used map.
I’m clinging to the face of Terminator Peak following what the Italians refer to as a via ferrata, or “iron road.” It’s the latest addition to Kicking Horse’s menu of summer alpine experiences and it’s a winner and today one half of an alpine duathlon of sorts – via ferrata in the morning, bike park in the afternoon. Via ferrata originates from World War I when Italy clashed with the Austro-Hungarian forces in the rugged Dolomite Mountains that divided these two powers. Italian soldiers equipped the mountains with fixed lines and ladders, an ingenuous and much safer way to scale difficult or otherwise un-climbable cliffs. When fighting ended the via ferrata was forgotten, until mountaineers began restoring and repurposing these routes for recreation, launching a new form of mountain adventure. Via ferrata consist of steel rungs drilled and glued into the rock, suspension bridges, and steel cable bridges spanning chasms that can feel like tiptoeing a cross a thread of silk. With a harness, a leash that’s connected to the cable for safety , some sturdy hiking shoes, helmet, and a little coaching from an experienced guide, pretty much anybody from grandmothers to grandkids can experience the thrill of scaling alpine rock.
“We hatched the plan to develop a via ferrata last year, and our crews started working last spring scaling loose rock from the route, then drilling and installing more than 800 metres of steel cable,” says Max Cretin, director of business development and guest experience for Kicking Horse Resort, who has joined me on this new via ferrata.
I pause on a ledge and turn to face the precipice below. The roof of the Eagle’s Eye Restaurant is a splash of red next to the gondola top station. A group of hikers, ant like from these heights, follows the trail descending from Eagle’s Eye to the meadows and alpine pools at the foot of Terminator. I’m accustomed to climbing mountains the conventional way, burdened with an arsenal of shiny metal tools and implements. This is only my second kick at a via ferrata, and for the first 15 minutes I feel sort of naked. However soon I’m enjoying the fluidity and relative unencumbered simplicity of the activity. Grab the metal rung, step upwards until the specially designed aeroligne carabiner slides up the paralleling cable and passes over the steel plate affixing the cable to the rock. At the crest of a 10-metre slab of vertical quartzite I hesitate, to rest my calves.
Kicking Hores offers two via ferrata options. Ascension delivers you to the summit of Terminator Peak. For the less ambitious, or beginners, Discovery provides a shorter option that exits lower down Terminator’s easy ridge. However both routes start with an exhilarating crossing of a 30 m long suspension bridge that spans a steep chute that skiers know as Think Twice in wintertime. After two hours, we top out on Terminator’s summit, with time left to scramble down the ridge and back up to Eagle’s Eye for a 12:30 lunch reservation. I keep it simple, a juicy Alberta beef burger and garden salad, accompanied by a glass of cabernet sauvignon.
After lunch I switch modes for the second half of my alpine duathlon. I strap on some shin and elbow pads and full face helmet, then saddle up a DH bike for the 4000 foot vertical descent to the base village. My guide Ryan Harvey, who works mountain safety in the winter and patrols the bike park in summer, has a route planned, that showcases what Kicking Horse’s park is renowned for – sweet alpine riding. After a quick zip down the loose and rocky cat track, It’s a 10, we roll into smooth and flowy Pipestone, which feeds quickly into the swooping burmed chicanes of Dragon Chaser. Western anemones and Indian Paintbrush blossom trailside. Chute to View drops us into the subalpine forest, followed by Home Run and then Showdown, which descends in big loops skier’s right of the Gondola. By the time I pause to summon courage at the top of the black diamond- rated Rock and Roll, a steep rock slab, my forearms burns from squeezing brake levers. I’m an XC rider at heart so I do whatever it takes to keep the rubber on the ground. Next up is LYM, built by Harvey and his crew; it’s a fantastical corkscrew of elevated ramps that defies logic but works. It’s 2:30 pm when we roll to a stop in front of the Black Diamond cafe. I opt to perk up with an afternoon espresso, before reloading the gondola for another ride. Why not? It’s summer, the days are long and this alpine duathlon isn’t over.
WESTERN OPEN BC CUP 2015 RESULTS
The 2015 Western Open BC Cup downhill race happened in the rain & mud, which didn’t seem to bother the racers much, still finishing with incredibly fast times. The new Beer Garden at KHMR plaza heated things up this year bringing good vibes and good times. Thanks to all the teams and racers for coming up to the Horse again. See you next year!
Stay tuned for the full recap. Click here for the results: KHMR 2015 Western Open results.[slideshow_deploy id=’13138′]