They call it the jet stream—a narrow band of wind high up in the atmosphere that blows from west to east. It’s what brings us most of our weather in North America. During years when the Pacific Ocean is warm, the jet stream veers south and B.C. gets less storms. On years when the Pacific Ocean is cold, however, the jet stream juts north, soaking up Arctic air before dumping loads of snow on the Pacific Northwest and Interior B.C. We call those La Niña years, and to a skier or snowboarder, it’s the best thing ever. Part of that is because they deliver the driest most consistent powder on earth, but it’s also because La Niña winters usually only come around once or twice a decade.
We’ve been lucky enough to have La Niña stick around for the last two winters in B.C., and oh my has it made this horse kick. It snowed 66 days during the 2021/22 operating season, which is four months long at Kicking Horse. Do the math on that, and it was storming more than half the time—piling up to eight metres total. That’s over 26 feet, surpassing even the 24 feet from the season before!
And guess what, it’s still here. Climatologists are predicting an unprecedented third winter of La Niña this winter: a never-before-seen “triple dip.” That means if you’ve been trying to pick a perfect season to visit Kicking Horse, this is it. Not only is it going to puke coldsmoke all winter, but the pandemic is finally over. Covid restrictions have all but vanished in B.C. (though we need to be vigilant), and this will be the first “normal” season in three years. High-fives in the lift line? Check. No more masks? Check. No more distancing in gondola cabins? Check. That all means getting up the mountain faster, and getting more of the fluffy white stuff in your face on the way down.
Plus, if you’re visiting from the U.S., you’ll be getting an especially hardy discount courtesy of the exchange rate. The U.S. dollar has been outpacing the Canuck coin by a solid 25 to 30 percent for the last six months, and there’s no signs of that changing. Kicking Horse also just updated its grooming fleet with a new, state-of-the-art, environmentally friendly cat to help boost your experience on corduroy—because, let’s be fair, it won’t snow every day… just most.
Photos by Tim Grey & Aiden Trudel