Don’t stare at the Kicking Horse trail map for too long. The diamond glare might hurt your eyes as in 39 black diamonds to go with 60, yes 6-0, double-black runs. It’s no surprise the very same topography that defines this mountain provides what most consider the best backcountry fodder in the world. There’s really no other way to put it, the Horse’s badassedness resides in a corral all its own.
Like everyone I know who’s skied here I still vividly remember my first time. I was heading to the backcountry out of Golden for a few days so I figured I’d warm-up at Kicking Horse, ease my legs into my boots before tackling the challenging stuff deep in the Purcell Range. I hadn’t bothered to look at the trail map, figuring one interior B.C. ski area was pretty much like any other Powder Highway stop. After my first 4,000-plus foot vertical descent I suddenly felt like that kid who hadn’t bothered to study for a test only to enter class and discover it was the final exam. (Come to think of it I was that kid!)
My saving grace on the mountain was the justification that cutting down blue Sluiceway and Cloud Nine all day would preserve my lactic acid for what was to come. In other words, I had a ready to excuse take it easy. “Let’s stick to the bowls and gullies,” I suggested to my partner, an outstanding skier who doubles as a Seattle architect. “There’s no reason to pop onto the ridgelines given where we’re heading.”
He readily agreed.
I didn’t harbor the same excuse the next time I pulled into Golden and, truth be told (again!), my previous backcountry foray had paled in comparison to the “warm up” terrain anyway. On that day I’d peeked at all the chutes just below Eagle’s Eye Restaurant off CPR Ridge with a ready excuse to avoid them. Not so this trip. It was time to see what all the hype was about, the chatter about the regular Freeski IFSA Nationals held here and the 100+ diamond runs that glitter like the studs in David Beckham’s ears.
It may sound strange but CPR Ridge reminds me a little of the coral reef in Indonesia. Though individually named, the chutes are so abundant they’re just listed as 49-64 on the trail map. What recalls diving in Komodo National Park is their diversity, not simply this ladder or that gap. One could spend the day floating around down “Spurline,” “Iron Horse” or, my favorite, “Craigellachie” and never get bored.
The mundane does not actually exist anywhere at Kicking Horse, one of those rare resorts where you can ski every terrain type on a single run, an unanticipated virtue, at least by me, of skiing a hill top-to-bottom on a regular basis. I’d sum it up this way, to steal a cliché and turn a few stomachs: Kicking Horse is a little bit backcountry and a little bit rock and roll.
“Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.”
Words by Crai Bower
Photos by Felix Dallaire & Nick Nault
There’s no convincing needed when it comes to visiting Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. It sells itself with its diverse terrain selection, impressive annual snowfall and stunning location – the only question is when to experience it all. In reality there’s no bad time to visit Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, its alpine peaks and deep snowpack will surely impress all season long. But here’s why January midweek is prime time.
LOTS OF SNOW
According to WeatherSpark, the most snow for the Kicking Horse region happens the first three weeks of January – hello reliable powder days! After the previous two months of snow you can count on a solid base meaning if not all, the majority of the resort will be wide open for shredding. With the snow stacking quickly this time of year you can count on getting in on some fresh stuff and watching the mountain transform into an even snowy-er wonderland before your eyes – well what you can see between face shots that is!
Past the winter solstice, January offers more daylight than the months preceding it, but with out the heat associated with sunlight in the spring. What does this mean for you? Long full days of daylight filled with chilled quality champagne powder preserved day after day.
Let’s talk about this whole midweek thing. Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is known for delivering access to sensational snow and terrain with out the lines, imagine having no lines. Well if you visit in January you won’t have to image. Typically January is a quieter time of year for travel, which means more of the mountain for yourself, especially mid week when all of the weekend warriors will be working.
Just in case the whole daylight, snow stats and private resort concept wasn’t enough to convince you that Kicking Horse Mountain Resort midweek in January is the time to go, the deals certainly will. Lodging packages range from 20-50% off midweek this time of year. And we all know that the best feeling after a full day on the slopes is knowing that you can ski to your on mountain accommodations and soak in the hot tub with out a worry in the world.
All this talk about January has us feeling antsy to get through the holidays and into the snowiest month of the year! Speaking of holidays, a little trip to Kicking Horse in January sounds like an excellent gift for you and your favourite ski or snowboard partner, wink wink.
Words + Photos by Abby Cooper
The Horse is back with more kick than ever! With our recent expansion, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort can now offer 4314 feet of vertical descent – the 5th biggest vertical in North America!
Here are the fast facts:
- 4314 feet (1314 meters) of vertical
- 3486 acres of skiable terrain
- 8218 feet (2504 meters) at top elevation
- 5 alpine bowls
- Endless Champagne Powder
Dialing up for this coming winter, Kicking Horse’s new terrain includes the legendary Ozone South face (made famous as the competition venue for last year’s Freeride World Tour event) and Middle Ridge, offering fantastic turns into both Feuz Bowl and the adjacent Rudi’s Bowl. This is Canada’s BIGGEST expansion in skiable terrain – a loud and large 660 acres of new, rowdy skiing! 660 acres that embody what Kicking Horse represents: adventurous terrain offering challenges to all skiers and riders.
To access Ozone, skiers and riders will hike up to Whitewall, ski/ride down to the saddle and hike up to the top of the face. For Middle Ridge, a dedicated bootpack will head up from the bottom of Feuz Bowl. Big rewards will be available to those happy to do a little hiking!
Like all of our existing terrain, these features will be opened and closed at the discretion of our Mountain Safety team, allowing for the necessary avalanche control to be completed so that we can all play safely!
This would not be possible without the incredible support of Purcell Heli-Skiing, who will be offering their beautiful brand of small-group heli-skiing from the base of Kicking Horse this winter! Adventures abound from The Horse – the finest marriage of lift and heli-accessed terrain around!
We want to give fair warning now: when these features are opened, you will not want to be sitting in the day lodge. This is some of the most exciting in-bounds terrain you will ever make turns on, so do not miss out! Going forward into this winter season and beyond, Kicking Horse will boast more inspiring and vast terrain than any one pair of skis can handle!
So, have you started waxing your skis and boards yet?
You’ve read all the stats: 4,133 feet of vertical, 2,800 acres and over 120 marked runs. You know that on average the place gets 24 feet of snow each season. You even know it’s got the fifth highest vertical drop in North America—just six feet shy of Jackson Hole’s. But for some reason you’ve still never been to Kicking Horse. OK, Maybe you’re unmoved by stats. But did you also know the last two seasons the snowfall has actually exceeded 33 feet? And that the resort just absorbed an entire new bowl into its tenure that used to be heli-ski terrain? And that Kicking Horse is now on the Epic Pass?
As winters get more temperamental around the globe, and multi-area passes give us more mobility, devotees of powder will want to take note that El Niño is coming—the warm period in the Pacific Ocean’s shifty mood cycle. And while that often spells gloom for the lower 48, Kicking Horse has historically been in the sweet spot during El Niño winters: never too hot, never too cold, and above average for snowfall. Perched along the rugged spine of the Purcell Mountains, the resort is uniquely positioned in a climatic zone that Mountain Safety Supervisor Kyle Hayle calls “conterior”—a hearty mix of “interior and continental conditions.”
Only 2.5 hours from Calgary International Airport, what you get is a weatherproof series of crescent promontories drawn from the pages of history, only a snowball’s throw from the birthplace of North American mountaineering—Rogers Pass. After 19 years quietly drawing upon a big-mountain legacy brought forth by turn-of-the-century Swiss guides and mountaineers like Syd Feuz (the namesake of one of the mountain’s best bowls) Kicking Horse is flaunting its alpine identity more than ever.
You can see it in the complex avalanche control program—one of the largest in North America—that prioritizes getting guests right to the goods the day of the storm: no waiting for the top to open. And you can see it on the Freeride World Tour (FWT), where the resort is the only North American five-star stop, and for good reason.
“Kicking Horse Mountain Resort boasts Canada’s steepest and burliest terrain, all coated with its famous ‘champagne powder,’” says Freeride World Tour Senior Communication Manager Emile Lavoie.
The expansive string of alpine amphitheatres with a game-on philosophy and low-key vibe makes it more akin to skiing the backcountry than any other resort in North America. With the recent absorption of adjacent terrain from Purcell Heli-skiing, that’s ever more true. It’ll eventually add 660 acres, boost the top elevation to 4,460 feet, and add a fifth alpine bowl with cruisy south-facing slopes all above treeline. While the mountain has yet to announce what part of that will open this winter, look no further than last year’s FWT stop at Kicking Horse for an idea of what the rowdiest bits could look like—it was the mountain’s first foray into the spine-tingling new zone.
What will be yours?
Let’s get straight to the point; winter tends to overstay its welcome. With major snowstorms lasting into April earlier this year, Mother Nature definitely took longer than expected to bestow warmer temperatures upon us Canadians.
Living in this wonderful, snowy nation, there are some crucial lessons to learn in order to thrive in the ‘Great White North’. Most importantly, is realizing the importance of making the best of your environment and conditions (especially the long winter months we so often endure).
Our initial instincts are to stay warm and cozy during blizzard-stricken months, huddled indoors with blankets, warm drinks, a crackling fire and taking in an unhealthy amount of Netflix, while silently praying that our neighbour or significant other will shovel the walkway. Winters have such great potential though, why surrender such glorious opportunities to see the remarkable beauty Canada boasts in its backyard?
Exploring the outdoors throughout all four of our Canadian seasons is a revitalizing experience for us, which should be taken advantage of to refresh our frame of mind. It’s a chance to discover new adventures just a snowball’s throw away. We’re all familiar with making the most of warm temperatures during the summer months with patio season and backyard lounging in full swing. The winter landscape can be just as inspiring too, when given the chance.
If you need more convincing, here are a few of Canada’s premiere winter activity destinations:
Fernie, British Columbia
The shops, cafés, restaurants and pubs along 2nd Avenue in Fernie are some of the Canadian Rockies’ hidden gems, with surrounding mountain peaks looming over the glow of its downtown streets.
Located just down the road, Fernie Alpine Resort is home to some of Canada’s most legendary powder, with an average snowfall of 30ft. From epic downhill skiing to leisurely snowshoe and groomed cross-country skiing trails, the resort has activities for the whole family. It also offers plenty of weekly programs to get you outside and even yoga classes to help you find your winter Zen. Their on-mountain accommodations along with a local shuttle to town make for a perfect introduction to Canada’s winter activities.
Kimberley, British Columbia
If you’re looking for a classic mountain town, you’ve found it. The town of Kimberley embodies the Canadian spirit with humble, welcoming locals and a relentless passion for nature. Kimberley is home to craft beers, great local dining, the oldest building in Canada and a variety of activities to enjoy outside.
With stunning scenery of the Kootenay mountains, Kimberley Alpine Resort is just minutes from town and offers great facilities and terrain for people of all skiing and snowboarding ability levels – from first-timers to seasoned slope shredders. Looking to stay on level ground? Try the area’s expansive snowshoe trails, cross-country skiing network or check out fat biking, one of North America’s favourite new activities (mountain bikes with wider tires for better grip in snow conditions).
Golden, British Columbia
One of the most famed locations along the Powder Highway, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and the town of Golden are conveniently located along the TransCanada Highway and ready to provide you a mountain experience like no other. Drop into Whitetooth Brewing Co. for locally crafted beers, or the Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre for an up-close learning session with these amazing animals.
Delving deeper into nature, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort offers Canada’s highest dining experience, the Eagle’s Eye Restaurant at 7,700ft. Once you’re fueled up, hit the slopes of the Catamount Chair to learn the basics on your skis or snowboard, or bring your little ones to the tube park and natural ice rink at the base of the resort. Advanced skiers head to the top via the gondola for wide ranging bowls, ridges and chutes. If staying grounded is your preference, Golden is primed with world-class snowmobiling, along with plenty of rentals and tours available.
Life’s too short – and winters are too long – to miss out on a lifetime of adventure. Let winter activities revitalize your soul and help you look forward to the inevitable snowfalls each year. Meet Mother Nature halfway on this one and discover how rewarding Canada’s winter climates can truly be.
It’s about time we give “Golden Girls” a new meaning. Say goodbye to the endearing, ageless women of TV lore, and say hello to a new adventure destination for ladies who love to get away from it all, but want to be part of the action.
Small town mountain vibes? Check. Great dining? Check. Adventures galore? Check. Adrenalin will take you anywhere in this town, and if you like having options, Golden is the place to be.
Here’s a five to one checklist of why Golden BC is the perfect girls’ adventure destination.
Five National Parks: Golden is surrounded by five National Parks: Yoho, Banff, Jasper, Glacier and Kootenay, each with a distinct feel. You could spend a lifetime in these five world-class parks and still not explore it all.
More Than Four Thousand Vertical Feet: Kicking Horse Mountain Resort offers 4,133 feet of vertical, to be exact. With more than 120 runs, even the most athletic skiers can find their challenge. Your legs will be begging for apres-ski by the time you hear last chair being called.
Thirty-Three Kilometres of Nordic Trails: Check out the Dawn Mountain Nordic Centre, where 33km of skate and classic ski trails surrounding Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Its base is less than 1 km from the main resort ski base, and includes a warming hut chalet.
Confluence of Two Rivers: Nestled at the confluence of the Columbia and Kicking Horse Rivers, Golden has that feeling of being tucked away in the mountains. Once in town, check out great dining options such as Eleven22 Restaurant and The Wolf’s Den.
One single gondola ride up to the summit: The Golden Eagle Express Gondola will whisk you to the summit in one easy ride. Once you’re there, get ready, it’s a long way down to the base, with a seemingly endless number of runs to choose from. Or, enjoy dining on top of the world at the Eagle’s Eye Restaurant, located at the top of the Golden Eagle Express Gondola. Known as “Canada’s most elevated dining experience”, you’ll be welcomed by 360 degree views, where you can sip on champagne as you gaze out to some of the world’s best champagne powder. The restaurant is open daily for lunch visits, and Friday, Saturdays and holidays for dinner. Reservations are highly recommended.
Ready to pack your bags? Don’t miss these other adventures in the Golden area, ranked from mild to wild:
Mild: Stroll across Golden’s beautiful pedestrian bridge as you explore the shops and restaurants of town.
Spicy: Ever wanted to walk with wolves? You’ll get your chance at the Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre, located in the Blaeberry Valley just outside of Golden. Advance bookings required.
Wild: Take on “Truth and Dare”, also known as runs #94 and #95 at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. These two runs are rated double black diamond, and are a locals’ favourite. They’re home to the Helly Hansen “Wrangle the Chute” Four-Star Freeride World Qualifier. These steep, rugged, narrow chutes are reserved for only the most experienced skiers.
The perfect combo for skiers- new snow & warm temps is what has kicked off 2018 in Golden, B.C., making Kicking Horse Mountain Resort a winter wonderland. Now is the most amazing time of the year, start your year off the right way, with Mountain Time!
With some of the deepest snow in North America right in our backyard. This season kicked into high gear with record setting early snow and continued throughout the holidays, our total snowfall to date is over 17 feet with nearly 30 cms in just the last week. Plus with the warm temperatures hitting the mountains, don’t wait – ride the horse now!
Even more gifts on the way with the winter 2018 storm track focused on the Powder Highway region, weather forecasts show more snow on the way by this weekend.
Take your own turns in our Winter Wonderland with special offers & vacation packages, book now as the ski bums will tell you that January is one of the best Months to ski!
Qualifying for this prestigious event, a resort needed to have a massive variety of terrain, thigh burning vertical and incredible snowfall and a strong mountain community of which Golden, British Columbia is well suited as the historic home of the Swiss Guides who led climbing expeditions in the early 1900’s.
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, known for it’s plethora of in-bound chutes, variety of epic terrain and trademarked as the Champagne Powder Capital of Canada and with the 4th biggest vertical in North America, it certainly has more than enough cred to qualify!
After a long summer season of anticipation, the Freeride World Tour (FWT) launched the official competition calendar featuring a completely revamped competition schedule for the upcoming 2018 season. This year, the FWT unveils two brand new locations for the opening events in Hakuba, Japan and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Golden, BC, Canada – two legendary freeride destinations. Forty-five riders in four categories – ski men, ski women, snowboard men, and snowboard women – will make the five-stop international journey. All riders will face a round of qualification cuts after the fourth stop in Fieberbrunn, Austria before arriving at the grand finale in Verbier, Switzerland in March/April 2018.
- NEW FOR 2018 – Hakuba, Japan – January 20-27, 2018 – The Winter Begins
- NEW FOR 2018 – Kicking Horse, Golden, BC, Canada – February 3-9, 2018 – Time To Get Rowdy
- Vallnord-Arcalís, Andorra – March 1-7, 2018 – Hold The Line
- Fieberbrunn, Austria – March 9-15, 2018 – Crunch Time
- Verbier, Switzerland – March 31 – April 8, 2018 – The Grand Finale
More about the Freeride World Tour
The Freeride World Tour is an annually toured series of events in which the best freeskiers and snowboard freeriders compete for individual event wins, as well as the overall title of World Champion in their respective genders and disciplines. The events take place on what’s commonly referred to as “backcountry”, “big mountain” or “extreme” terrain – essentially ungroomed powder snow on super steep, mountainous slopes. The first event series under the Freeride World Tour moniker took place in 2008. Prior to that it was known as the Verbier Extreme, originally a snowboard only contest launched in 1996 – with skiers also invited to compete in 2004. For the 2013 season, the Freeride World Tour merged with the Freeskiing World Tour and The North Face Masters of Snowboarding, combining all three tours under one unified global 5-star championship series.
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, widely known as the ‘Champagne Powder Capital of Canada’, is now gaining recognition for being a leader in real estate and mountain architecture as well. The Cedars is Kicking Horse’s premiere ongoing real estate development, with construction of the first home starting in the fall of 2014, lots are still available to purchase. The purchase of a mountain lot, managed through RCR Realty, offers ownership of a high energy efficient state of the art mountain modern, semi detached home (breathtaking views and easy access to the slopes included).
Recently featured in several highly regarded design publications, The Cedars as well as other private homes in Kicking Horse are receiving worldwide acknowledgment as a high end, luxurious mountain development.
Articles featuring the home designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson who designs all the Apple stores as well as residences for many well known clients such as Bill Gates;
Other features this property and Kicking Horse have been included in;
- 10 of the best cabin in the Canadian woods on dezeen.com
- The Most Fabulous Houses of 2014 on fastcodesign.com
- The 10 Best Houses of 2014 on metropolis.com
Publications featuring other properties at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort;
- dwell.com – Mountain Home
- mountainliving.com – A British Columbia Home They Call the Wolves’ Den
- westernliving.ca – Inside a luxe, Hygge-Inspired Alpine Getaway
HELLY HANSEN Wrangle the Chute is coming up March 8-11, and we hand picked a few Golden & KHMR locals eager to compete and represent their home turf! Be sure to watch them throw down this week: March 8th for the 2* FWQ, March 10th for the 4*FWQ Qualifiers and March 11th for the 4*FWQ Finals.
Local Yoga Instructor and avid Snowboarder & Mountain biker, this girl is getting after it on a daily basis! Keepin’ up with the Oatway Productions boys is not easy, but it sure trained Jessica to wrangle herself in & out of the steepest and sketchiest lines without a hitch!
This local shredder only has interest for big mountain lines! Chris will always ride where you thought it was impossible to ride, while capturing some major air time. Don’t miss this guy’s run!
Lane Clark aka Flame McNeil. Ex rodeo clown now Coach for the Rocky Mountain Freeriders. His motto: “If the women don’t find you handsome they should at least find you handy”.
Head coach of the GKHAT (local ski racing team) & level 3 coach certified, Ryan’s style is simple: technical, non-stop and loose, he’s definitely happiest with one foot up in the air, doing big turns, and traveling at a high speed. Be on the watch for his run, because it’s going to be a fast one!
Devon Randall aka Bad Randy, grew up thirty minutes south of town in Parson home of the world’s largest paddle. Words to live by “take your loose airs with your loose women” fast one!
A long-time Kicking Horse Warrior, Mason is taming the Horse at every opportunity he gets and is not scared to go big. His motto: “When in doubt, point it out!”