November 18, 2018

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Kicking Horse Winter

It started out as Whitetooth Ski Area, a smaller ski area owned by the town of Golden, B.C. The ski area was purchased and expanded in 1999, and reopened with the name of Kicking Horse Resort, after the river by the same name at it’s base, on December 8, 2000. The majority of the skiable area consists of four large bowls (Crystal Bowl, Bowl Over, Feuz Bowl and Super Bowl) that combine about half way down the mountain into a single area, with a fairly gentle ski-out to the lifts at the bottom. One run, It’s a 10, is 10 km long and connects the runs in the main Bowl areas. In 2002, a new chairlift (Stairway to Heaven) was added to allow access to a third bowl (Feuz Bowl), which generally sees less traffic.

In 2010, a fourth bowl to the south of the existing resort (Super Bowl) was added to the area. The area statistics are impressive making this a place for big mountain riders and skiers. With 4,133 vertical feet of skiing and riding, Kicking Horse contains a staggering 85 in bounds chutes. There is an in bounds guided skiing excursion offered and highly recommended for the first timer.

The 120 runs break down to 20% beginner, 20% intermediate, 45% advanced and 15% expert. An average of over 275 inches of snow falls on Kicking Horse and with the Purcell Heli Skiing helicopters departing from the base and an outstanding guided backcountry skiing experience close by, the ski stories are almost too tall to believe.

The mountain is served primarily by a high speed eight passenger gondola, the Golden Eagle Express, that rises from the base area to the top of the peak. Two smaller chairlifts also operate from the base area, a fixed-grip quad (Catamount) and a fixed-grip double (Pioneer – an original lift from Whitetooth days).

Another fixed-grip quad (Stairway to Heaven) serves the upper areas to the north of the gondola, including the third bowl. Uphill capacity is somewhat limited, however, and most skiers end up skiing the 4,000 vertical feet back to the base and so need to return to the summit via the gondola. The limited terrain park is compensated by the natural terrain and exceptional backcountry access.

Ski Terrain

The Golden Eagle Express Gondola accesses CPR Ridge, Crystal Bowl and Bowl Over. Crystal Bowl is large and open, providing intermediate skiing and is the easiest way down from the gondola. Bowl Over is also open but much steeper and often has more moguls than Crystal Bowl. In 2007, a trail was made to allow for advanced intermediate skiing into Bowl Over. CPR ridge is situated between the two bowls and is an advanced skiers paradise. One side of the ridge, the Crystal Bowl side, provides some of the 85 inbound chutes available at Kicking Horse. These chutes range from advanced to expert skiing. They are steep, sometimes narrow, but hold snow well and give a consistent fall line to the bottom of the bowl. The other side of CPR Ridge is a series of glades.

Stairway to Heaven is a fixed chair lift that is situated at the bottom of Crystal Bowl and accesses White Wall, Feuz Bowl and Redemption Ridge. White Wall is a quick hike right of the chair and is rated expert skiing for some rock bands and large cornices. Feuz Bowl is advanced skiing, quite similar to CPR ridge. Stairway to Heaven follows Redemption Ridge. On one side are chutes into Feuz Bowl and the other side is a series of glades back into Crystal Bowl. Eat well because skiing off this lift is a calorie burner but it’s some of the best adventure skiing we have come across anywhere. This is one of the reasons why Kicking Horse makes the AMH list of Special Places.

Terminator Ridge and Terminator Peak are situated on the left side of Bowl Over. On the south side of Terminator Ridge Super Bowl can be accessed. On the north side a few steep, narrow, expert chutes come back into Bowl Over. The hike to the top of Terminator Ridge is often well traveled and takes from fifteen to thirty minutes, depending on fitness. If you are not from the area we would recommend an able companion for heading over the North side.

Backcountry Access

Kicking Horse has exceptional backcountry access. South of the resort, Super Bowl can be accessed by hiking up Terminator Ridge. North of the resort, Rudi’s Bowl and many other backcountry assets are accessible. Contact us about our recommended backcountry guide service. The area around Kicking Horse and Golden has many alpine touring routes and memorable descents. Rodgers Pass is 40 minutes west of Golden and famous for it’s great backcountry skiing and riding.



Winter around Golden, B.C.

Backcountry Skiing

OK, here’s how serious they are about backcountry powder access around Golden. Our recommended backcountry guide service for the area around Kicking Horse and Golden offers snowmobile accessed ski tours. They have a permitted area of 11,000 hectares and use modified sleds to tow you to the desired terrain. If the resort is skied out you can have 5 runs, depending on fitness level and ability, for around $150. All guides are ACMG certified and excursions are available February to April. They also have numerous backcountry skiing routes from moderate to intense in the Golden area as well as on the powder mecca of Rodgers Pass, 40 minutes away.

Cat Skiing

Well, its 60 miles north of Golden but…two young loggers secured a tenure with amazing terrain, 250 square kilometers worth. They blazed in some cat roads and put up a rough log lodge and with 3,000 vertical foot runs and Canada’s only snowcat glacier skiing and vast amounts of powder glades word began to spread from Golden to Calgary and far beyond. They have two beautiful new lodges and they only joint cat and heli ski operation until recently. 2 day excursions are available early season, after that it’s 3 and 4 days blocked together.

Heli Skiing

Two services operate out of the Golden area, one about a half hour north of town has it’s own lodge and offers unlimited vertical. (Most heli ski operators ‘guarantee’ a certain number of vertical feet, if you ski over this amount there are additional charges. An Unlimited Vertical feet PROGRAM usually costs more up front but that’s it, all you can ski powder!)
The other heli ski operation departs right at the Kicking Horse base area. Both services have tenures (permitted areas) in the Purcell Mountains. As both are day operations they host many first time heli skiers as well as experienced heli skiers out for a day of powder dreams. Groups are divided into ability levels and have certified CMGA guides. Both operations have a mix of open skiing on glaciers that give you the feeling of skiing and riding on the roof of the world and then gladed tree skiing which is used during snowy days of flat light and for the steeper runs as the trees offer greater snow stability than open slopes. Contact us for more details.