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;
It’s snack time for Boo the Bear. Ross Prather approaches with a bucket of fish carcasses and kitchen compost. It’s a hot summer’s day and Boo has found a shady spot among the fir trees to laze away the afternoon. However the scent of a snack gets his attention; a grizzly’s sense of smell is so acute it can detect an animal carcass more than 30 kms away upwind. Under normal circumstances such proximity would be perilous – man with bucket of food, hungry 275 kg grizzly bear steps away – if it wasn’t for the electric fence separating the two.
Boo the Bear has made his home at Kicking Horse Grizzly Bear Interpretive Centre since first arriving in 2003, when he was orphaned after his mother was shot by a poacher. Over the years Prather, refuge manager, has gotten to know this wise old bear well. The specially built, 10-hectare fenced enclosure, found on the Eagle Express Gondola lift line and accessed in summer via the Catamount chairlift, provides a natural habitat for Boo, with forest, meadows and a running stream.
Ursus arctos horribilis – the grizzly’s Latin name is enough to strike fear into the hearts of even the most seasoned wilderness traveler. However the opportunity to observe this animal up close is a thrilling experience, enabling visitors like my family and I to better understand grizzly behavior and ecology with the help of Prather and his staff. At times Boo stays deep within the confines of his enclosure, perhaps eating dandelions and digging for springtime bulbs in a meadow, or hunting for squirrel or marmots. However when curiosity gets the best of him, or the dinner bell rings, he approaches the fence. We’re lucky today. Boo lumbers out of the forest, snout pointing upward, his powerful shoulders rippling, lustrous silver-brown fir gleaming in the sun. It’ hard to overcome the urge to retreat as Boo comes close, but the fence keeps us safe.
A male grizzly typically ranges a territory of between 350 and 800 square kms, but Boo seems content with his home at Kicking Horse Resort – for the most part. Occasionally his urge has gotten the best of him.
“Boo gets a little randy in springtime,” Prather says, adding that he has left his enclosure a few times in the past in search of a mate.
However he always comes back.
Meal time is over. A horsefly buzzes courageously nearby and Boo shakes his massive head. Oblivious to my family and I observing from a few metres away, he strides the fence line before angling back into the forest and finding a nice muddy pool in which to cool himself. He lowers into the brown water, rolls from side to side, then emerges again, fir dripping with water, then disappears into the cool of the forest. Life is good for Boo and we’re thrilled to share a few moments with him.
Disclaimer – Andrew visited Kicking Horse Mountain Resort to see Boo in 2016, Ross has since left his position with Nicole Gangnon taking over as Grizzly Bear Ranger Manager. Visit Kicking Horse this winter to see Nicole and her team caring for Boo.
August 11, 2016
Matthew Bailey from www.mustdocanada.com recently visited Kicking Horse Mountain Resort to experience the Via Ferrata, ride the bike trails and of course, visit Boo the Bear. Here is some of what he had to say, to read the full story, visit mustdocanada.com.
“…We curled our way around rock ledges as we moved along the ridge-line that divides the Rocky Mountain trench from the Purcell range. We climbed up and down and straddled the face of the mountain while looking down at the incredible scenery. At one point, we also crossed Gut Bridge, which was just a line of metal cable that you have to walk across. If a suspension bridge doesn’t scare you, this just might. Everything is so safe though so it’s a good time to test your fears!
After a couple of hours, we made it to the top of Terminator Peak, which offers absolutely stunning views of the surrounding area. In one direction, we saw Roger’s Pass while in the other direction we saw as far as the Columbia Icefields. Everything was so clear and vivid. It’s the kind of scenery that draws you in and never wants to let you go. I could easily sit down and just stare at the view for the entire day. It’s that beautiful…” Read the rest in his post on mustdocanada.com.
Next up came Boo & biking;
“….I’ve been riding mountain bikes ever since I was a kid but this was the first time I rode one down an actual mountain. For those looking for a mountain-rush during the summer, I can’t think of a better way. For me, going downhill with a bike versus ski’s is much more terrifying…but I was up for the challenge.
First though, my wife Karla and I wanted to see Boo, the resident Grizzly bear. Since Karla wasn’t going to be joining me for the mountain biking, we decided to explore the Grizzly refuge in the morning. Plus, this is when Boo is more active. I don’t blame him. With 25ºC weather and a thick fur coat, I wouldn’t want to be under the sun either….” Read the rest on mustdocanada.com.
1) Eagle’s Eye at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
How to get there: Ride the Eagles Express Gondola from the Plaza to the summit, step outside and see the Eagle’s Eye Restaurant walkway in front of you
What you’ll see: Spectacular views of 6 National parks surrounding the resort (and eat a delicious meal as well).
2) Lost Boys Lookout at Fernie Alpine Resort
How to get there: Ride the Timber Chair to the top and walk a short distance past Lost Boys Café over to the Lost Boys Lookout
What you’ll see: Amazing landscapes of the surrounding peaks of the mountains and of the town of Fernie below.
3) Kimberley, B.C – Lois Creek Trails
How to get there: Parking is available at Centennial Hall. To enter Lois Creek Trails go to either the North End of trail Street, the intersection of 8th and Elko Street or at Centennial Hall at the old Legion Tracks.
What you’ll see: Gorgeous mountain vistas and a variety of wildlife along the trails.
4) Lizard Lookout at Fernie Alpine Resort
How to get there: Ride the Elk Chair to the top and walk a short distance into Lizard Bowl
What you’ll see: Stunning views of the Elk River & town of Fernie
5) Via Ferrata at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort – The Ultimate Mountain View
How to get there: Ride the Eagles Express Gondola from the Plaza to the summit, step outside and proceed to Eagle’s Eye, look for the tent to meet up with your guide and group. Once everyone is there you’ll do some training and head right over to the suspension bridge taking you to the Terminator Peak for the climb of your life!
What you’ll see: If you’re brave enough to turn around and take a look behind you’ll see a stunning stretch of mountains while hanging off the Terminator Peak including 6 National parks, the resort below you and Eagle’s Eye Restaurant off in the distance.
NEW this summer – try the Hanging Glory Suspension bridge! More information.
Photos by Alpenglow BnB, Dave Best
Feature Photo: Dax Justin
Summer might be the best time to get outdoors and enjoy what the mountains have to offer in our amazing backyard in Canada. In recent years, ski resorts in British Columbia have made a series of additions, upgrades and updates to have family friendly activities for adults and the little’s as well as keeping the hardcore activities available for the summer thrill seeker.
Summer is a great time to escape the hustle and city bustle, to relax and recharge. The tranquility of fishing will help those kids forget all about the stress of making the grade at school and will help you take a real mental vacation from work. Fishing provides kids (of all ages) a great lesson about being calm and one with nature in an authentic environment. More information about fishing in Golden is on the Tourism Golden website.
- Take a Hike
No, we’re not telling you to get lost, but we are literally telling you to take a hike. Fernie, Kimberley and Kicking Horse all offer hiking in a mountain setting with amazing views at Fernie and Kicking Horse the lift accessed hiking provides some epic views you won’t on any regular old hike. For more information about hiking in mountain towns visit the Tourism Fernie, Tourism Golden or Tourism Kimberley websites and for more information about lift accessed resort hiking visit the Fernie Alpine Resort or Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.
- See a real bear up close (and learn too)
Perhaps one of the most unique aspects at Kicking Horse is Boo the Bear who lives year round at the resort and has made a name for himself as a local celebrity. Boo has an interesting story of how he ended up making his home at Kicking Horse, in the largest protected Grizzly Bear habitat in the world. While living at the resort he’s offered us humans a rare and special opportunity to learn about the life and practices of Grizzly Bears. Kids and adults of all ages will enjoy taking a Grizzly Bear Interpretive tour and learning about his life at the horse! Get more information about Boo and Interpretive tours on the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.
- Monkey Around
The Aerial Park at Fernie Alpine Resort is a good introduction to find out how the little’s in your family feel about heights. They can try out the free kids aerial park, or if they meet the height restrictions can venture up in the trees. The lesson beforehand from our knowledgeable guides and extensive safety system will allow them to feel safe while far away from the ground! If you have a very adventurous little one (who is at least 10), use the Aerial Park as a stepping stone to trying the Via Ferrata at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Get more information and book the Aerial Park on the Fernie Alpine Resort website.
- Explore historic towns
Many towns in British Columbia have a strong history in mining and have museums or memorials in town to commemorative and conserve the memories. Along with learning about history, try out some of these unique town experiences;
- Visit Beanpod Chocolate (Canada’s Traditional Chocolate maker) in historical Downtown Fernie. Beanpod website.
- Walk the downtown platzl in Kimberley (also location of the Kimberley museum). More info.
- Walk with Wolves in Golden, a truly unique experience in the Canadian Rockies. More info.
- Visit the Heritage town – Fort Steele (near Kimberley, B.C). More info.
- Pop into the Clawhammer Press in Downtown Fernie. Clawhammer Press website.
- Take a golf lesson
Getting them started young is a great way to build impressive golf skills! Check out our websites to see about specials like ‘take a kid to the course day’, ‘family stay & play packs’ and family golf lessons.
- Sunbathe and Swim in the outdoor pools
Staying at ski resorts in the summer offers a full service experience! While many of our hotels have in house or nearby Spas to pamper, gyms to keep in shape and outdoor pools/hot tubs for the kids to keep entertained for hours! Shown in below photo – Lizard Creek Lodge at Fernie Alpine Resort.
- Eat all the food
It might be a bit of a hidden fact (although gaining more and more recognition), mountain towns are the best place to have great food! Each have their own unique restaurants, bars or cafes to check out – all come with an authentic mountain town vibe (guaranteed).
- Mountain Bike ON a mountain
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is a great starting point to get the passion flowing for mountain biking, with a kid’s skills course in the base area set up each summer. Fernie Alpine Resort has also added a myriad of beginning trails over the last couple season to provide a gentle ride down the summer ski slopes. In addition to beginner trails, Fernie Alpine Resort along with the Fernie Trails Society and Fernie Nordic Club unveiled a new Peak to Park multi use trail last summer. Adding a different experience to the mountain biking game – ride the chairlift at Fernie Alpine Resort and bike your way back down to the town. More information about mountain biking at Fernie Alpine Resort and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort can be found on our websites.
- All the best fests
What’s your jam? Outdoor music? Farmers Markets? Hardcore racing events? There is something nearly every weekend in Fernie, Kimberley or Golden. Check out the online events calendars on the resort websites or town tourism websites to find out the schedule for this summer!
Photos: Tourism Golden, @calsnape, Cali Sammel and Patrick Majer.
Try out the only gondola accessed mountain biking in the region at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, with over 3,700 feet of variety, there’s downhill hardcore single tracks with multiple berms, jumps and wooden features as well as lessons and green trails offered for beginners! Golden, B.C has more amazing mountain biking options to offer, being located near Mount 7, one of the most challenging downhills in Canada! Not to worry if you aren’t into the challenge, there are over 100 kms of cross country trails on Mountain Shadows and Moonraker trail systems as well as easier road and mountain cycling. Don’t miss the annual Western Open – B.C Cup, this year on July 2nd & 3rd! Keep an eye on the online events calendar for more information.
There are ‘trails for everyone’ in Kimberley, 3 different trail networks offer everything from beginner riding with gentle, scenic cruises to some adrenaline pumped more difficult trails. With the newest improvements of the trails, the North Star Rails to Trails network is a 25 km long multi use track perfect connecting Kimberley & Cranbrook, perfect for families looking for an afternoon spent exercising outdoors in one of the sunniest places in B.C! Other trails to try are the Lois Creek Trails, geared towards beginner to intermediate riders, and the Kimberley Nature Park, one of the largest municipal parks in Canada for great for riders of all levels. Visit the Tourism Kimberley website for more information on biking in Kimberley.
One of the largest Bike Parks in the region with a recent focus on progression makes Fernie Alpine Resort’s bike park a favourite among the biking community, being voted in the Top 5 Bike Parks in Canada for the last 2 years. Offering cross country, downhill, single track and dual slalom trails accessible from the base area or chair lift as well as a number of green trails and lessons for any ability level to learn the sport or brush up on skills.
Fernie Alpine Resort isn’t the only place to ride in Fernie, along with a number of trails accessed from town, maintained by the Fernie Mountain Bike Club and the Fernie Trails Alliance there have been significant improvements made to a number of trails over the last few summer’s allowing even more people to enjoy scenery around this gorgeous mountain town! A favourite among the youngest generation of riders, Fernie also has a FREE dirt jump park with large & small jumps, bridges and obstacles to check out, located in town near the aquatic centre. For more information on Mountain Biking in Fernie, B.C visit the Fernie Tourism website
For Immediate Release: April 11th, 2016
KICKING HORSE MOUNTAIN RESORT announces EARLY SUMMER OPERATIONS OPENING DATE
Golden, BC – Continuing last year’s momentum, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is scheduled to open daily from May 28 to September 25, creating a must-visit spot for summer adventurers and families alike. A Preview Weekend is tentatively scheduled for May 20-22, our Bike Park and Via Ferrata operations will be available starting from June 25, pending terrain conditions.
Summer at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort;
VIA FERRATA Secured Climbing Route – Get vertical at the most exhilarating Via Ferrata (Italian for iron path) in Western Canada! Confirmed and apprentice climbers alike will tackle Terminator Peak’s north face & venture through 2 custom courses and 1 suspension bridge. Giddy up!
GRIZZLY – Close encounters of the grizzly kind! Our Grizzly Bear Refuge – home to Boo, our resident grizzly – is the world’s largest enclosed and protected grizzly bear habitat. Tours are available daily.
GONDOLA + MOUNTAINS – Whisk up to 7,700 feet in a gondola ride with 360° views. The altitude won’t take your breath away, but the views still will! With amazing views of 6 mountain ranges and 5 national parks, this is the finest in Canadian vistas and a quintessential BC experience. Choose your hiking path along the top of the world.
DINING – A wide variety of culinary establishments to pique every palate. There’s award winning dining, casual Rocky Mountain comfort food, grab-n-go breakfasts, grills, pubs and cafes. Visit Eagle’s Eye Restaurant, Canada’s Most Elevated Dining Experience.
MOUNTAIN BIKING – Explore our award-winning bike park with over 4000 feet of vertical, 50kms of single tracks, wicked dirt jumps, great tech shop and exceptional bike and equipment rental. Did we mention a great pump track, lift serviced riding and daily bike lessons?
Call our reservations specialists to enjoy on-mountain luxury accommodation at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort! From slopeside boutique hotels to condos and resort homes, package your accommodation with summer activities for further savings.
For more information, please contact:
Senior VP Marketing & Resort Experience
Resorts of the Canadian Rockies
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Kokanee has released a brand new brew of beer, a beer infused with water from a glacier that’s been around since 1962. Glacier water from 1962 was chosen as that’s the year Kokanee beer was first brewed in Creston, B.C.
Pick up the Kokanee Deja Brew at a liquor store near you, and get fueled up for winter with the glacier fresh taste of the beer out here!