Kicking Horse Mountain Resort (KHMR) is a ski resort 14 kilometers from Golden, British Columbia, Canada. It has the fourth largest vertical drop in North America, measuring 4,133 feet (1,260 m). It’s just six feet (1.8 meters) shorter than Jackson Hole. The resort has roughly 2,800 acres (11 km2) of skiable lift-served terrain in total.
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, interior British Columbia’s large mountain skiing destination, originated as a proposal in 1996 when award-winning Vancouver architect Oberto Oberti visited Whitetooth Ski Hill (the resort’s old name).
Oberti recognized the potential for the infrastructure to be expanded into a four-season tourist resort. The resort was purchased and refurbished with significant help from the local community of Golden, as well as local and international investors, and reopened in December 2000 as Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.
Kicking Horse Ski Resort, which began with one double chairlift, one T-bar, and 2,000 feet of vertical, today boasts access to some of Canada’s most difficult terrain. In little over 12 minutes, the Golden Eagle Express gondola transports skiers and snowboarders right into the high alpine. The bulk of the 2,750 acres (1,100 hectares) of terrain is served by this 8-person gondola. The Stairway to Heaven, which extends from the foot of Crystal Bowl to Blue Heaven Peak (8,033 feet), is the only other high alpine lift (2,450m).
Kicking Horse’s reputation has been established on its steep terrain and substantial yearly snowfall (an average of 275 inches) (700cm). The ski resort’s layout is distinctive in that it spans three separate ridges: Terminator Peak, CPR Ridge, and Redemption Ridge. There are several couloirs in these three places, each more dangerous than the last. Many of these ridges”skiable’ lines would be designated as permanently closed zones in larger, more popular resorts. Local skiers and riders have a sense of common sense that keeps them away from such regions when the conditions are harsh.
For beginners and intermediates, the lower mountain has a lot to offer. The lower mountain is great for families and people searching for a less ‘intense’ experience, with long, flowing groomed slopes, steep bumps, and a network of easy-to-navigate green routes.
There are a few motels and eateries in Kicking Horse’s modest base hamlet. Luxury vacation rentals are available in high-end residences within walking distance of the town.
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is 6 miles (10 kilometers) outside of Golden, British Columbia. Calgary, the next large city with an international airport, is two hours and thirty minutes distant by car.
Kicking Horse – Info Card
|Location||British Columbia, Canada|
|Top elevation||2,450 m (8,033 ft)|
|Base elevation||1,190 m (3,900 ft)|
|Skiable area||11.14 km² (2,750 acres)|
|Runs||106 (Beginner 20%, Intermediate 20%, Advanced 45%, Expert 15%)|
|Longest run||“It’s A Ten” (10km long)|
|Lift system||1 gondola, 3 chairlifts, 1 surface lift|
|Snowfall||7 m (23 ft)/year|
Kicking Horse Skiing
The mountain’s summit has four major bowls and many ridges that radiate out into one main face, producing a total of 128 named routes. With steep wide bowls, gorgeous glades, and dry snow, this is ideal for seasoned SNO skiers, and it’s also quite peaceful.
Skiers outnumber boarders at this resort, which lacks terrain parks and necessitates going beyond the lifts. While hailed as expert terrain, there is enough terrain at the foot of the mountain for novices to hone their abilities, and the resort’s peace and quiet is precisely what you need while you learn the fundamentals. The 10km It’s a Ten run traverses the resort from top to bottom, providing a gratifying accomplishment at the conclusion of the week.
Crystal Bowl is the biggest and most open of the four bowls, with high blue lines like Cloud 9 and Northern Lights letting you in on some spectacular vistas before flowing into various intermediate routes on the center mountain.
Experts are the honored visitors here, with three full peaks devoted to black runs. Many of the best lines come from the lift-served CPR ridge. There is also some backcountry and out-of-bounds skiing that is readily accessible. However, if you make a slight effort to reach slopes beyond the top lifts, you will enjoy the snow advantages. The Super Bowl (a short bootpack to Terminator Peak) is a classic, while the Feuz Bowl is appropriately characterized as “millionaire skiing.” With terrain this steep (45 degrees in parts), the authorities are correct to be concerned about avalanche safety.
Kicking Horse Snow
The powder quality at Kicking Horse is often outstanding. Kicking Horse contains dry powder that is more akin to the powder seen in the Rockies around Lake Louise and Sunshine. The northeast perspective is also favorable for superb snow conditions, and the powder off Whitewall is really delicious!
Not unexpectedly, the snow quality near the summit of the mountain is normally excellent, but given the height, the snow below mid-mountain may be a bit mushy, slippery, or barren. Snowfall statistics vary greatly as well, with an average season snowfall of 7.5 metres at the summit and just 2.5 metres at the bottom.
There are limited snowmaking facilities to help with the cover, and there are plans for more snowmaking in the future.
In-bounds avalanche risk reduction is a big task for the highly skilled patrollers, given the snowpack and steep cliffs at the summit of the ski area. The out-of-bounds backcountry sections are very avalanche prone, and skiing in these places necessitates extreme care.
Accommodations in Kicking Horse
The Kicking Horse community is both little and adorable. There are a variety of on-mountain Kicking Horse lodging options, some of which are ski-in/ski-out or just a short walk away. If you’re willing to take the bus or drive up each day, you may find cheaper options in Golden.
There are a few on-mountain restaurants, and it’s a must to treat yourself at least once to lunch or supper at the Eagle Eye restaurant, which is positioned high on the mountain. There are a few pubs up the mountain, but Golden is likely to have more activity.
The other Kicking Horse ski resort amenities are similarly basic, but acceptable given the quantity of guests. Equipment rental and a few of ski and snowboard stores are among the services. The ski school offers excellent teachers, so if you want to improve your skiing or snowboarding so that you can ride the steeps, this is the place to go.
Heliskiing at Kicking Horse
The slopes of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort are hardly congested, but if you want to get away from the “masses” and score mountains of new tracks, you can go heli skiing with Purcell Heli Skiing, which is situated in nearby Golden. It makes no difference whether you’ve never heli skied before. Purcell Heli Skiing offers programs for both first-timers and those who are already completely hooked to the joy of heli skiing.
When is the best time to visit Kicking Horse?
These slopes are famous for their light, dry “champagne” powder, and the peaks see an astonishing average of seven metres (275″) of snow every season. This is the well-known Powder Highway, and if you intend to spend the most of your time on the expert terrain surrounding the summits, the slopes are sure to have a nice dusting at any time of year.
However, given the resort’s tremendous height, the snow below mid-mountain might become mushy or barren in later months. There are plans for more snowmaking, but for the time being, we urge that intermediate and novice skiers arrive sooner rather than later. By February, the temperatures had risen above the minuses, and the sun is often visible.
Families in Kicking Horse
Kicking Horse is ideal for first-time skiers, with a handful of ski-in/ski-out residences only feet from the learner’s area and calm, typically traffic-free paths. The Telus Winter Sports School provides a variety of classes, ranging from one-on-one instruction for one hour to full-day programs for families. The Kid’s Club serves well for children from 18 months to 5, and has been known to organize a “kid’s night out” on a Friday for a little of fun. Kids will have a fantastic time here with activities including ice skating, ice climbing, tubing, and visits to the local grizzly bear, “Boo.”
Kicking Horse Apres Ski
In many respects, the Horse is still a foal, and the town has a long way to go before it matures. Nonetheless, there are enough restaurants, pubs, and taverns to keep things interesting. Peaks Grill is the first destination for après, and on beautiful days, throngs may be seen pouring out onto the patio. Whiskey on the terrace at The Local Hero is another must-do after-hours activity. One of the greatest restaurants, the Eagle Eye, is positioned on the mountain top rather than at the foot. While many mountain restaurants struggle to provide both stunning vistas and exquisite cuisine, this is not the case here, with truffle fries on the menu and “bird’s eye” views of five adjacent national parks.
If you’re in the mood for some fun, there’s much more to do in Golden, which has a plethora of bars and clubs.
KHMR is peaceful, but not boring, and you can liven up your afternoons by going snowshoeing, dog sledding, ice skating, or even ice climbing to view the Kicking Horse Canyons and Yoho National Park. Visit the nearby wolf sanctuary (to practically walk with wolves) or grizzly bear refuge, whose orphan “Boo” is somewhat of a local celebrity, for an even closer encounter with nature.