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!”
Spring, it’s the time of year when the flowers bloom and everything turns green, unless you’re in the Canadian Rockies. If you find yourself in the Rockies come spring, you’ll quickly notice that the winter blanket of white snow is far from disappearing. In fact, spring in the Rockies offers some of the best skiing conditions. Not to mention the added bonus of starting après before sun down, not that you have to stop when the sun disappears, no judgments here!
Ever heard the expression “suns out guns out’ or “skies out, thighs out”? We are pretty sure they were first said by a hardy Canadian spring skier wearing a sleeveless shirt and shorts while laying down a killer line in the Rockies. Warmer temps bring out some of the best and most amusing spring skiing fashion trends, again, no judgments. The warmth of the sunshine isn’t just great for tan lines, but also works its magic for ultimate snow conditions. One thing that’s reliable in the Rockies is epic corn snow. Corn snow, or “hot pow” if you will, is a descriptive term for the glorious snow that coats our backyard all spring long, it’s fast, warm, and punch-able for ultimate control.
Spring is the ideal time to celebrate in the mountains. Everything from live music, pond skims, themed races and festivals make their way onto the calendar come spring. Fernie Alpine Resort welcomes April with live outdoor music and an unforgettable Festival that goes by the name of Fernival. A film festival kicks of Fernival followed by the famous Raging Elk Powder, Pedal, Paddle Relay, what better way to fully embrace spring that in a multisport multi-season relay. Fernie wraps up their season with the Coca Cola Slope Soaker and live music. If spring skiing is half about skiing and half about socializing, Fernival is exactly where you want to be. Strictly skiing more your style? Kimberley Alpine Resort has some of the longest days available for lap crushing by offering night skiing. Hop on the first lift at 9am and ski right until 4pm. A mandatory break of operations will remind you to eat, relax and enjoy some live music before getting back on the slopes at 5:30pm when night skiing kicks off. Nakiska is the place to see it all, and ski it too, Calgary’s closest mountain shouldn’t be missed! Nakiska is home to fun event weekends in April referred to as Spring Fiesta’s with family friendly activities and of course, the tube park will be open! The biggest crowd drawing event at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is non other than the famous Wrangle the Chute Freeride World Tour 4 Star qualifier. Watch some of the most talented athletes tastefully choose lines to tackle with style in front of the stoke filled crowd. The after party is quickly becoming equally as famous, another reason to put Kicking Horse Mountain Resort on your spring hit list.
Combining long, warm, and snow filled days with awesome events sounds like the perfect reason to get to the Rockies this spring if you ask me. If you haven’t experienced spring the Rockies you don’t know what you’re missing and hopefully I’ve given you enough reasons to change that!
The past few years, I’ve found myself trading in watching the National Football League (NFL)’s championship game on a television screen for snow, summits and sunshine at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, nestled along Canada’s famous Powder Highway in Golden, BC.
Sundays – especially Super Bowl Sunday – are typically when people sleep in, prepare for a day full of snacks, football and wrestle with your buddy over the best spot on the couch. Instead, a friend and I were turning off our alarms at 4:15 a.m. to hit the road and wind our way through the Rockies.
By sunrise all of our worries were buried in the snowbanks behind us, we began embracing what I call the “semi-ski bum” lifestyle. Let’s be real, this wasn’t the first (and won’t be the last) time I went powder hunting in the Canadian Rockies. On this Sunday, what better place to go than terrain affectionately named Super Bowl? With fresh snow on our minds, coffee in our hands and ski gear piled high in the vehicle, we slowly powered our way through a blizzard to arrive at Kicking Horse for 9 a.m.
As thousands of North Americans prepared pre-game meals and furiously cleaned their houses for Super Bowl parties, we were already enjoying our own Super Bowl with its steep and deep terrain located between Kicking Horse’s Terminator peaks, referred to as T1 and T2. This champagne-powder filled bowl is hidden out of sight from the gondola and had gained nearly a foot of new snow in most areas, giving skiers and snowboarders their pick of fresh lines and first tracks.
I wrapped up my last laps on the mountain and began the drive home, I also missed the first-ever overtime and most epic comeback in NFL Super Bowl history. But my day had turned out just the way I hoped it would when we set out that morning. Best of all, instead of waiting a full calendar year, I can re-live my favourite Super Bowl moments again next snowfall. I guess what they say is true… #ThisHorseRules.
Want to take a ride in our Super Bowl? Check out the video to see what it’s like!
Words & Photos by Dave Belyea
Bucket list checker? Kicking Horse Mountain Resort has more than a few noteworthy check marks that you’ll want to add to your list. Kicking Horse is home to Canada’s highest restaurant, has the most in bounds chutes in North America and hosts the 4th biggest skiable vertical in Canada. Need I say more? This mountain resort stays pretty humble about all its braggable features, but these aren’t the only reasons Kicking Horse Mountain Resort should be in your ski vacation cards.
The vast terrain at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is jaw dropping. The choices for skiable terrain are endless. Kicking Horse is family friendly with many groomed leg burners to boot, but if you’re here to get rowdy you won’t be disappointed. Out of the 120+ runs, 45% of them are for advanced skiers and riders and 15% are rated for experts. This means that more than half of the mountain is ready to push your limits and fulfill all your adrenaline junkie dreams. Four distinct ridgelines separate the resort into bowls and various sub ridges and faces. The unique collection of terrain means there is always a powder stash somewhere, although this shouldn’t be much of a worry since the average snowfall is 750cm! Whether it’s technical spines, gladed trees, sneaky chutes, big bowls or groomers you’re after you can guarantee you’ll find it here. With terrain choices bursting at the seems it seems silly to leave the resort, but if you’re craving a backcountry tour grab your avalanche gear and an equipped friend and check out some of the equally impressive slackcountry.
Vistas in all directions encompass you as you step off the Golden Eagle Express Gondola. It will make you feel although you’ve stepped onto another planet, a planet filled with peaks galore. Looking down the valley you’ll see the town of Golden nestled in the Rockies Trench as you peer across from the Purcell Mountain tops. Do a 360 spin and try to find a boring view, we dare you. To take the view to the next level, yes it’s possible, head up the Stairway to Heaven Chair and climb the black Stairway to Heaven Whitewall staircase (only if it’s open) for the view! Even if you head back down the stairs, it’s worth the small work out to see some incredible peaks. Sounds a bit too good to be true? Kicking Horse is the ultimate skier playground, and it’s very real.
Best way to enjoy that view? Dinning at 7,705 feet (2,350 meters) sounds pretty ideal. Eagle Eye Restaurant is the highest restaurant in Canada, most definitely making it a checklist item! From the delicious list of entrées to the custom cocktails, this place is a haven for hungry skiers and sightseers a like. Don’t leave with out trying the truffle fries and a tasty specialty coffee or one of the signature Great Canadian Caesars.
Needless to say, if Kicking Horse Mountain Resort isn’t on your current “must ski” list, it probably should be. The massive amounts of inspiring terrain will keep your ski cravings curbed, although the more you ski, the more see that can be skied! This place might be a little addicting, but in the best way possible. Tired legs are happy legs and with 1,260 meters (4,133 feet) to conquer lap after lap we can guarantee you some pretty tired legs.
Photos by Abbydell Photography, Jeff Bartlett & Emile Lavoie