Something I’ve learned about myself is that I rarely turn down an opportunity for adventure. When Kicking Horse Mountain called and wanted me to climb ‘Terminator Peak’ and cross a swaying suspension bridge, I answered.
I have never done much climbing. I mean, I have climbed mountains and bagged a couple summits; but this was no ordinary climb. This type of climb is called “Via Ferrata” which means “iron path” in Italian. I have done this type of climb only before but our route for this trip is positioned as “The Most Exhilarating Via Ferrata in Western Canada” and we were heading to the summit of Kicking Horse Mountain.
Before we began climbing everyone goes through a short but informative training session on how to use the climbing gear. Via Ferrata climbing is a little different than normal rock climbing in that you are always harnessed in but have to be responsible for your own technique up the mountain. It is simple stuff, you just have to be conscious and aware – which isn’t tough because when you’re up there, you are 100% involved in what you’re doing. No distractions; my mind was fully focused on the task. It didn’t take long for all of us to get comfortable with the provided gear so we started out by trekking the ridgeline high above Kicking Horse and the town of Golden, BC. After a short hike you arrive at the swaying suspension bridge… No matter how many times I’ve been on these types of bridges I still get swept by a wave of excitement. Step by step I crossed the wooden planks as the bridge swung from side to side. One thing to keep in mind is you are literally safe all the time, and you are harnessed into cables that are bolted into the mountain.
As we climbed onward and upward we were able to take short breaks to chat with one another, watch others and their technique, take photos of each other (obviously selfies) and get to know one another. Honestly, I thought more people would be freaked out but our entire group was comfortable, laughing and we all became friends within the first hour. There were even kids with us and they were doing great! One thing I noticed from the youth with us was they were HAPPY. Like, genuinely. It was pure adventure to them and it was wonderful to hang out with some young people who enjoyed the outdoors.
Speaking of people who enjoy (or live for) the outdoors – our guide Jackie wasn’t just a guide, she became our friends. Jackie O is as fun as they come. Jackie (or any Guides) can be instrumental in any activity or trip in the mountains, and she never let us go forward with doubt. She was super supportive, skilled, had a fun-cheeky attitude and ultimately had a positive outlook on life and adventure.
This route up the mountain was called the Ascension route and takes 4.0 hours to complete. After the morning of climbing we all peaked the summit and had some time to give high-fives and at this stage we were all hugging each other in joy. I won’t ever forget it.
For me, this activity is high on my list for exhilarating mountain fun that just about anyone can do. My sense of excitement was non-stop all the way up to the summit. I can’t wait to climb it again – see you up on the suspension bridge this season!
From KH website: “465 meters of pure bliss! Starting off the ridge-line dividing the Rocky Mountain trench from the Purcell range, and exiting at the top of Terminator Peak, the ASCENSION Route is a truly unique beast. From the climbers’ mouth, this course is one of the most technical & scenic in North America. Discover our signature “Guts Bridge” and stand on top of the world, feeling that you summited a giant!”
Learn more about Kicking Horse Mountain’s Via Ferrata climb here.
Golden, B.C is a gorgeous mountain town, well known for being an adventure capital with a variety of outdoor activities just outside your doorstep in both winter and summer. One of Golden’s (only slightly) lesser known facts is that it’s also ‘at the heart’ of 6 National Parks. This year, with everyone being able to visit all our parks in Canada for free in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday there’s never been a better time to plan a road trip to Golden and it’s surrounding parks!
So exactly which National Parks can you get to easily from Golden?
- Mt. Revelstoke National Park
Approximately 1.5 hour drive from Golden
What to do: Travel on the Meadows in the Sky Parkway, only open for the few months in the summer without any snow, its a gorgeous drive with lots of photo opportunities along the way. Take a shuttle bus to the summit for hiking and to see the historic firetower at the top.
What to see: Lots of wildlife including bears, moose, wolverines, mountain goats and even bats.
Fun Fact: home to one of the few inland temperate rainforests in the world
- Glacier National Park
Approximately 40 minute drive from Golden
What to do: Walk or hike along one of the many trails in the area, a large variety of levels offers something for the veteran hikers as well as shorter ones for people seeking a more casual adventure
What to see: Really old trees – take a stroll through the Hemlock Grove Boardwalk built in between ancient hemlock trees
Fun Fact: home to one of Canada’s largest cave systems
- Banff National Park
Approximately 1 hour drive from Golden
What to do: Walk through/around the historic Banff Spring Hotel, built in the 19th century or visit Chateau Lake Louise, one of the most photographed spots in Canada
What to see: Amazing mountain views, abundance of wildlife and a quaint town
Fun Fact: Canada’s first National Park
- Jasper National Park
Approximately 2.5 hour drive from Golden
What to do: The Glacier Skywalk. One of the newest attractions in the 6 parks, the Glacier Skywalk is an amazing glass floor lookout jutting out from the cliff edge
What to see: The highest mountain in Alberta – Mount Columbia
Fun Fact: one of Canada’s largest national parks
- Kootenay National Park
Approximately a 1 hour drive from Golden
What to do: Relax in the Radium Hot Springs or camp in oTENTiks (tent/cabin combos)
What to see: With an abundance of waterfalls, rivers, grasslands and glaciers there’s something to see around every corner in Kootenay National Park whether you’re walking or driving.
Fun Fact: is a UNESCO World Heritage site in part because of the fossils found in the area
- Yoho National Park
Approximately 20 minute drive from Golden
What to do: See Takakkaw Falls, 384 m high the Takakkaw falls are some of the highest in Canada, accessible from June – October hike right to the base of the falls for an amazing experience. It’s no wonder Yoho is a Cree word meaning ‘of awe and wonder’
What to see: Emerald Lake – names for it’s unique turquoise colour cause by powdered limestone
Fun fact: the park was created after Canada’s first Prime Minister John. A Macdonald and his wife toured through on the new Railway, he created the park along with Glacier National Park upon returning home.
We woke up, peeled back the blinds to a foggy interior BC morning. I loved it. The beauty of the fog rolling through the ancient trees and over the Canadian Rockies was breath taking. We packed up the truck and headed for Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, well… first a coffee, and then headed for Kicking Horse. As we drove up the winding road to the resort I got a little nervous. There were a few butterflies hammering around in my stomach, but nothing out of the usual. I get so stoked every time we pull up to rad resorts like Kicking Horse Mountain Resort – you know good things are to come.
We had roped ourselves into the ‘Via Ferrata’. This all started when we saw pictures online of people climbing epic routes up monster faces, and apparently anyone can do it… so we got on the horn and lined it up. Tell you the truth, we had to google what that the name even meant. Via Ferrata is Italian for “iron road”, often associated with helping move troops in the First World War through the Dolomite mountain range of Italy. It was designed to help those who had no climbing experience to be able to navigate those rocky climbs. Climbers secure themselves to a cable, limiting any fall. Along with the cable, additional climbing aids are provided, such as iron rungs (stemples), pegs, carved steps and even ladders and bridges are provided. This sounded unreal, we couldn’t wait.
Making our way to the Via Ferrata we walked along this amazing ridge at the top of Kicking Horse. Clouds parted and the sun came out, revealing an absolutely epic view of a thousand surrounding mountains came into view. We all stopped, it was entrancing. After a few photos and necessary selfies we carried on.
At the entrance to the Via Ferrata we slide our carabiners onto the cable. Game time. First was the suspension bridge, ‘Hanging Glory’. With merely two 2×6’s underneath you and two cables to steady yourself we made our way from one ridge to another… the ground was a long way down. It was thrilling. Our team moved on to climb the route starting small but soon making our way to the mammoth 465 meter rock face. The steel rungs definitely make this route accessible for everyone, it was incredible how easy this made climbing. This style of climbing allowed us to access a spot we never thought we could get to, and we did it safely. Halfway up we were already making plans to come back and do this again. As we we neared the middle of the climb we paused, it felt like we were in a movie. We were halfway up this wild, iconic route I never thought of tackling, sitting on the face of this massive peak. We felt pretty badass.
As we reached the top we were all exhilarated – sweating, catching our breath, high fiving and hugging. Our team had pushed through pre-conceived notions of fear and physical ability to prove to themselves they were capable of more. The feeling of accomplishment as we summited the peak was incredible. We all stood there in awe taking in our triumph as we enjoyed the view from the top.
This summer step out of your comfort zone and experience first-hand exposure in a safe environment, while soaking in the majestic views of the Rockies and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. The experienced and friendly guides will cater to your level, whether you are a lead climber or a never-ever in search of an adrenaline fix.
I highly recommend that adventurers of all ages try your hand at the Via Ferrata.
Check out the video to see more of the experience;
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
Vast terrain, untouched powder, awe-inspiring views, exciting flights: all to be shared with only a few other skiers. Kicking Horse is the perfect warm-up for even bigger backcountry adventure.
Purcell Heli-Skiing has been taking skiers and snowboarders to the pristine summits and powder heaven of the Purcell mountains for over 40 years. Ever gazed beyond the top of Kicking Horse at the vast winter wilderness beyond? That playground can be yours.
Skiers and riders confident on the black diamond terrain of the Horse are ready for heli-skiing, even if you’re new to deep powder.
Purcell’s beautiful day lodge and heli-pad are a short 20 minute drive from the resort, just opposite the slopes of Kicking Horse. All guests meet there for morning briefing and gear set up in front of panoramic views of the Purcell mountains.
For large groups, heli pick-up can be arranged right from our heli-pad at the base of the resort.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What kind of terrain do we ski and how steep is it?
Depending on the weather, visibility and snow conditions on any given day, groups will enjoy anything from open bowls and glaciated runs to subalpine glades, trees and lower elevation cutblocks (area opened by logging). A single run can take you through all of the above.
Avalanche stability and participant ability guide the steepness of terrain choice, but most is comparable to the pitch of black diamond runs at Kicking Horse, but with the natural variety that comes with natural, uncontrolled, powder-filled terrain!
Will I be grouped with people of the same ability level?
YES. Participant ability is best measured by demonstration, in the moment, so our program is designed to adapt. Each group is composed of 9 guests and 3 guides, which can be split into two smaller groups to best match skier pace. A faster sub-group can ski ahead with the lead guide, and do another lift ahead, while newer powder skiers can take their time to enjoy without pressure.
How many vertical feet/metres are skied in a day?
Packages include five runs, at an average of 700 vertical metres (2300 feet) per run.
What happens if the weather is bad enough that we cannot fly?
If heavy fog, high winds or extreme conditions force the cancellation of your heli-ski day, you may reschedule to another day within your holiday, or receive a 100% refund.
What are the safety precautions?
Your safety is our number one priority. Guides are highly trained, ACMG certified and have extensive experience in our terrain. Heli-ski pilots are some of the most experienced in the industry, and are very familiar with mountain flying in winter conditions. All guests receive a thorough but concise safety briefing before heli-skiing, to feel informed and confident in their surroundings.
How far in advance should I reserve?
If you’re thinking about late February or early March, you should reserve NOW! That is our busiest time and spaces book out well in advance, so plan early to avoid disappointment. Outside of that time, we still recommend inquiring about your preferred date at least 60 days in advance.
Make it an unforgettable all-adventure package with Kicking Horse lift tickets, ski-in/out accommodation, and a day of heli-skiing. For more information about heli-skiing trips, call 1.877.HELI.SKI or visit the Purcell Heli-Skiing website.
Words & Photos by Purcell Heli Skiing
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!!
Matt Mosteller, For The Calgary Herald
Published: Thursday, December 13, 2012
Jammed with deadlines, gridlocked traffic, and more family and social scheduling then you know what to do with? Not only are you a candidate for a quick Rocky Mountain escape to refresh your mind, with a multitude of flavours and locally sourced ingredients, the food offerings of the mountain towns around Calgary are becoming increasingly known as foodie havens. With that in mind, here are the top foodie stops – in a mountain town near you.
Quick tips to start: Don’t overpack. Have your bags pre-packed and loaded, and beat the traffic by leaving the office early. Don’t forget to program the iPod with your road-trip playlist.
Food to thaw frosted taste buds abounds in Fernie, a three-hour drive from Calgary, where a foodie transformation has changed this Rocky Mountain town named by Rolling Stone magazine as the coolest town in North America into a stomach pleaser.
Loaf Bakery and Restaurant is the newest kid on the Fernie block, with new digs on Main Street. Known far and wide for its honest bread, Loaf has created a notable offering for your Friday feast. Start with the roast beet salad and move to what the establishment is known for; artisan pizzas. Try the Vegetariana or the one aptly named for the legend of powder, The Griz. Both won our recent group over, but many also enjoy such new menu main dishes as braised elk osso bucco and a tantalizing Parmesan risotto.
Sushi in the mountains? Yamagoya is a place that delivers the goods. So get here early as the lines can be long if you come after 7 p.m. The tuna sashimi melts in your mouth.
Time for a Picnic? Take your classic outdoor feast to new heights with farm-to-fork freshness at Picnic, a top dining spot in Fernie. It offers simply celestial cuisine and endlessly flowing wine.
Another hour from Fernie, along the beautiful Kootenay River valley, is Kimberley, sitting on a forested perch on a bench of the Purcell Mountains, complete with a walkable, car-free German-style village.
Dinner in a 350-year-old Bavarian farmhouse should pique your interest. The Old Bauernhaus Restaurant (which was taken apart and transported from Germany and reassembled in Kimberley) is a regional favourite that prides itself on locally sourced ingredients. Your hosts and chefs Nils and Michelle Fuhge are passionate about their freshly prepared specialties with a menu full of stunners like Buttermilk Marinated Heritage Farms Free Range Chicken Breast and Venison Geschnetzeltes. It is vital to book in advance so you don’t miss out.
Like riding a bike for a meal? Check out Pedal & Tap, a place that hugs the pedestrian-friendly Platzl like an old friend. A casual, fun foodie delight that feels more like you are at a good friend’s kitchen party than a restaurant, dining here is simple and good. Start with Lettuce Ride or Speedy Spinach and end with my favourite, Pedal to the Meadow; a burger for vegi fanatics.
Just shy of three hours from Calgary takes you to a whole new world. Wrapped in endless views of Rocky Mountain spires, the town of Golden gives you time to time to relax, dine and take in nature.
Are the Top 50 Best Places to Eat in Canada on your bucket list? Just winning this award once is a huge coup, but Golden’s Cedar House Restaurant has won it six times. Adorned with local art, warm colours, crackling fire and candlelight dining, Cedar House brings everything together to create a unique ambience. If that is not enough to get you going, then the espresso and maple syrup marinated buffalo steak will rev your senses up. Or check out the black sesame crusted wild Pacific halibut fillet.
Love Grill & Liquids? My stomach frequently takes me to the front door of Eleven 22 in downtown Golden, tucked away in a renovated turn-of-the-century house, Eleven 22 is a perfect escape for fine food and a warm atmosphere. Warm the belly with house-made seasonal soups, the lamb shank Australian or the Asian fusion miso-sake bowl filled with a bounty of savory ocean delights.
Looking for a quickie? An hour from Calgary, Can-more has grown over the years into a foodie and fitness Mecca.
Trough Dining Company in Canmore may only have 10 tables, but that just makes this spot all the more of a romantic secret. And the food fits the bill, with free range chicken and, of course, the local choice, AAA Alberta beef tenderloin.
Crazyweed isn’t something residents of Nelson, B.C. partake in regularly, rather it’s a place full of foodie fun and energy on Railway Avenue in Can-more. A rich wine list matching a star lineup, from Alberta sterling rib-eye to my spicy star, the red seafood curry bowl, Crazyweed will leave you fulfilled and on Rocky Mountain time.
Need a health stop? Communitea in Canmore is aptly named because it is a great place for socializing and enjoying and warm beverages. But it is the healthy offering and friendly staff that keeps me coming back to this place. Communitea has fresh food worth the wait, from picture perfect salads to a dish that takes you to a spiritually special place, the Buddha bowl with tofu.
Matt Mosteller is better known as Powder Matt through his blog at PowderMatt.com or at Calgary Herald.com. He spends his days on the slopes working at Resorts of the Canadian Rockies. Check out this adventure lover’s first book at mattmosteller.org
Source: Calgary Herald
© Calgary Herald 2012