The Farmer’s Almanac predicts we will have a ‘harsh & cold’ winter. Boo, our resident bear, seems to agree – he’s been eating and getting ready for hibernation earlier than usual, being about a month ahead of schedule on his winter weight gain leads the experts to believe not only will it be a harsh and cold winter, it will also come early. While some people might not be happy about this foreshadowing, we hope it means a winter season filled with lots of powder for skiing and riding!
Jack Burnett, editor of the Farmer’s Almanac appeared on CTV’s Canada AM recently and said we are in for “the T-Rex of winters”. To check out the full predictions visit this CTV article.
Here’s to hoping that prediction holds true, help motivate Mother Nature and start doing your snowdance. Post your snowdance pics & videos using #thishorserules and start the anticipation of winter now!
Fun fact: Boo gained 25 pounds over the past 2 weeks, he’s currently eating about 40,000 calories a day preparing for his winter sleep (that’s the equivalent of 65 Big Macs)!!
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.
Matt Mosteller, For The Calgary Herald
Published: December 26, 2014
No disrespect Canmore. Golden truly is a more edgy, hardcore, a seat of your pants, go for it mountain town. Not as polished or refined. Golden and Canmore both have rivers running through town. But the similarities differ like the rivers.
The Bow River, elegant, slowly moving through Canmore. The Kicking Horse River, charges, tearing through its namesake canyon, go for it pace until it slams into the Columbia River on the edge of town hitting its brakes.
Golden, framed by two mountain ranges, far away from being cookie cutter anything, a place where adventurer’s, rippers, mountain guides, river guides, go-for-it types and hardcore athletes hideout, mixed, in a community good way with loggers and railroad workers.
Logging trucks still run down main street in Golden. The centrepiece is a wooden bridge across the Kicking Horse River, a symbol of the logging industry backbone and a deep connection to the natural environment that the people share, one skis it, walks it, bikes it, climbs it and the other sleds it, cuts it, hunts it and drives it. The lines are blurred for sure and it is not that simple but the key is they get along, joined in this place full of do it yourself, help your neighbour care and go for it adventure spirit.
You may have driven the Trans Canada Highway, catching a glimpse of the spectacular mountain scenery around Golden, just a quick blur on your road trip, maybe to the Shuswap, or Vancouver, but this place deserves pulling off the road. It will grow on you. Not as quick as Canmore so give it some time. Canmore is a refined tea and Golden is strong, black, kick ass coffee that sinks in, becoming a dear friend over time.
Friday. Slide in for foodies delight. Pack your sleigh up, make the breakaway from the daily grind, finally that feeling, you know the one you get when you escape. The Trans Canada Highway enhancements have made it easier to get to Golden, with a 2.5 hr. drive from Calgary, one can easily leave after work and make it to Golden for eats. Foodies finds abound hidden in and around town. Score one for Eleven 22, a renovated old house that serves up a 91% rating on Urban Spoon, known for its original comfort cuisine, your tummy will thank you.
Check in. Kicking Horse Mountain Resort will surprise you. Having probably one of the nicest offering of private homes of any mountain resort in Canada, secluded in the woods, ski to your door, hot tub adorned and all ready for your classic cabin escape. John Lush, escaped Whistler-Blackcomb, on a road trip to check out the best skiing in British Columbia. He literally was pulled off the highway, he blames magnets in the go on forever mountain views and the champagne powder. A cabin in the mountains. For a family huddle, making everyone connect, fireside chats, story time, there is no place better for an escape. You need to check this out for yourself. Lush Mountain Accommodations at Kicking Horse nothing short of ‘Family Amazing’ time. A little secret, large family gathering, Valhalla is perfect.
Big Mountain Skiing and Snowboarding taken to a new level at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Many other ski resorts use this description. It comes to life here. One cannot fathom the magnitude of skiing terrain here, one bowl beckons, then another, another, phew your legs say as you try to make it to the 4th bowl. Still un-discovered, many don’t know that the place has the 4th biggest vertical in North America, and more chutes than any other resort in Canada. The hardcore knows this. But don’t you worry, beginners and intermediates have a home here as well with a massive lower mountain terrain and much-needed recent enhancements to the skiing egress out of Crystal Bowl. Besides even if you don’t ski the dining at Eagles Eye Restaurant, perched high in the Purcell Mountains, is the only place where both the food and views will amaze.
Saturday afternoon. Sip, Soak and Skate. A glass of BC wine led to a bottle, sitting by the fire at Eagles Eye Restaurant, ending a great day in the mountains, we decide to drink, eat and it is probably better to ride the Gondola down to the base. Back at the cabin, steam is rising from the deck, beckoning us in. Settling in, relaxed as my daughter yells, ‘don’t forget the cross-country skiing we planned before dinner’. The Golden Nordic Ski Club, operates one of the finest Nordic centres in British Columbia, with 33 km of track-set skiing, snowshoe loops and an incredibly homey and warm timber frame club house, right at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.
Sunday. caffeinated, books and wild animals. Boo is famous but sleeping. If you don’t know he is the resident grizzly bear at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, so while Boo naps, don’t miss checking out a walk with wolves or the resident bison. Coffee first. Bluebird Cafe, good joe and atmosphere or Bacchus Books and Cafe, for great eats and reads. Stroll main street of Golden, browse the shops and more importantly share in some local conversation, more than likely, someone excited about their next adventure. Now fuelled, you’re ready for the wildlife. Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre, offers a forest walk, where wolves are freely roaming. One of kind experience for sure!
Add on. Helicopter skiing, Cat skiing or backcountry touring. It is all here. Golden is truly the epicentre for powder lovers. Featuring the jumping off point to the best of resort, Helicopter, Cat skiing and backcountry ski touring. There are many good operators, here are a few to get you going, Purcell Heli Skiing, Chatter Creek Cat Skiing and Golden Alpine Holidays operates a string of backcountry ski touring lodges.
Source: Calgary Herald
© Calgary Herald 2014
Words by Steven Threndyle
Photos by Trent Bona, Dave Best & Neil Jackson
OK, are we ready to go? We’ve got our boots, check. Goggles, yep. Gore-Tex jacket and pants. Uh-huh. The fat skis and poles with powder baskets are in the box. A couple of changes of long underwear, some jeans, fleece, and t-shirts – yeah, I think we’re good to go. Rental vehicle’s got good winter tires; GPS is set, side pocket is full of maps and brochures… We’re ready to roll, let’s see what this Powder Highway is all about…
The Powder Highway is a bit of a combination of myth and reality. Where a nose for adventure combines with the desire to make dreams come true. What is the dream? Free falling down a powder choked bowl or open glade, snow hissing and vanishing in a vapour trail behind you, turn after turn of what’s become known as “epic goodness,” a feeling sensation that powder skiing aficionados come from all over the world to seek.
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort just outside of Golden, BC, and Fernie Alpine Resort in the southeast corner of the BC Rockies, and a Powder highway sojourn to both resorts and their respective towns embodies what a great road trip should be all about.
Here are five great reasons for gassing up the rental SUV:
- Snowfall—and Plenty of It: Due to a winning combination of mountain locale and micro-climate weather patterns, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort has become known as Canada’s Capital of Champagne Powder. When snow falls here, it’s not light – it’s what powderhounds call “blower” – the result of cold air temperatures and low humidity.
- Stunning Mountain Scenery: There isn’t a superlative yet that matches the view from the top of Eagle’s Eye restaurant at the summit of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. There are mountains in every direction, due to Kicking Horse’s unique location intersection four different ranges, including the world famous Rocky Mountains in Kootenay National Park. There’s literally a new mountain vista around every corner.
- Mountain Terrain for Experts…and Beginners: Next to snow, what makes skiing and riding at Kicking Horse so special? The myriad ways in which you can get down the mountainside, and the utter feeling of stillness and solitude as you descend turn after turn, powder boiling over the knees. The great part? You really don’t need to be a black diamond skier to start hooting and hollering. Intermediate runs groomed in late afternoon provide the perfect platform for a fifteen centimeter dump of downy powder. With the right gear (and maybe a good instructor, who will simply tell you to ‘keep centred over your skis’ and ‘relax’) – you could have a breakthrough day you’ll be talking about for year.
- Real Mountain Town Culture and Vibe: B.C ski towns don’t get more authentic than Golden. This is a place where you might rub shoulders with local guys who, plant trees in the summer time or ride in helicopters to fight forest fires to sock away enough money and time to ski over a hundred days each season (this is where the real ski bums live). The history of Golden – just eight kilometres away from Kicking Horse – is inextricably tied with the greatest nation building project in Canadian history – construction of the Canadian Pacific Railroad from Montreal to Vancouver. Swiss mountain guides were hired by the CPR to lead ambitious travelers from all over the world to the snowy summits which stretch in every direction. The town has a wealth of natural history and cultural heritage that rival the epic snow conditions and mind boggling mountain scenery. In the past two decades, this scenery has led to the development of a vibrant four-season tourist industry.
- Easy Access from Major Airports: Both Kicking Horse Mountain Resort (and Fernie Alpine Resort) are accessible through Calgary International Airport (YYC), a major Canadian gateway that also serves the regional Airport of the Canadian Rockies. A wide range of rental vehicles are available. High performance skis and snowboards can be hired up at the hill
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